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Discover How Much Professional Photographers Really Make

written by: Om Thoke•edited by: Amy Carson•updated: 2/26/2015

Before taking the plunge into becoming a professional photographer, find out what you can expect to earn.

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    Average Income Level of a Photographer

    Well, you may be slightly disappointed to know that according to statistics, average income level of a photographer is close to $28,000 mark, but the records indicate that an average photographer usually makes anything between $14,000 and $54,748.

    If you look at the average income level, it may not be too enticing to take up photography as a full time job in your career. So, you ask how much does a photographer make, if he's wiling to walk that extra mile, and put in whole lot of efforts early on.Well, the good news is that if you look at the income levels of some of the top photographers, I am sure that you'd be more than thrilled to discover the amount of money involved behind the scenes.

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    What Are Your Career Options?

    Having seen what a photographer makes on an average, you should think about the various options at your disposal. Some of the career options are as follows -

    • how much does a photographer make - Image Credit: http://www.thephotographers.us working for commercial photography studios,
    • shooting for newspapers, and/or magazines,
    • working with advertising agencies,
    • entering a contract with television companies
    • working as a part-time photographer
    • working as a full-time self-employed freelance photographer

    As per the job statistics of government's Bureau of Labor Studies, 152,000 professional photographers were employed in 2008, and about half of them were self-employed. The figure has increased by another 4% over last two years, and it is being predicted that the numbers will grow by another 12% by the end of 2018.

    Keeping this in mind, freelance photography looks like a good option, but you'll have to deal with several things before you can think of taking up photography as a self-employment option; the next section discusses specifically about this aspect in detail.

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    Benefits of Being a Self Employed Freelance Photographer

    You may want to consider photography as a self-employment option rather than working for someone in lieu of meager compensation. One of the good aspects of working as a freelance photographer is that you get freedom to work the way you want to, and even the flexibility to decide upon work timings, location, and everything else that you'd want.

    However, it may be difficult to find lot of assignments early on in your careerl; but once you build a good portfolio, and find freelance photography assignments on a timely basis, you can be sure of a stable income level in upcoming times.

    Another good thing about working as a self employed photographer is that you can make a good deal of money auctioning some of your best photographs, and even sell republishing or redistribution rights to multiple agencies that wish to make use of your photographs in their publications.

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    Top Paid Photographers

    Considering the top paid photographers in the world, here's a handy list of those who're envied by rest of the folks in the world of photography, and are considered as idols by beginner level photography fanatics.

    • Tricia Gosingtian
    • Annie Leibovitz
    • Henri Cartier - Bresson
    • Helmut Newton
    • Rankin
    • David LaChapelle

    Wondering how much does a photographer make at this level? Astonishingly, all of them make much more than the $50, 000 as per federal government stats, though Annie Leibovitz has had some trouble repaying her loans, and been the center of controversies off-late.

    When you take a look at the income level of best photographers (top 10% of all photographers), they make close to $60,400 - $62,430, which indeed turns out to be a handsome figure, while the median of the income levels of all photographers is just about $30,000.

    So, go ahead and give it a shot; you can always try out part-time photography, and make few handy bucks. A decent camera, a quick guide to photography and passion to shoot some exotic photographs is all that it takes to try your hand in this field. So, think no more how much a photographer makes, but rather give it a shot, and see how much money you can make, working as a part time photographer.

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    References

    http://www.bls.gov

    http://www.nppa.org