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How Much Do Freelance Photographers Make?

How much do freelance photographers make
Photo by Aman Tyagi on Unsplash

Freelance photography is a highly competitive field but the rewards, both financially and personally, are worth all the hard work. Your income as a freelance photographer depends on several factors including your experience, niche, location, and the types of clients you work with. But how much do freelance photographers make?

In this article, we’re going to discuss everything you need to know about a freelance photographer’s income, including the average income in the UK and USA, and how to maximise your earning ability. If you want to learn more about the salary of freelancers in general, check out this article. But first, let’s discuss the importance of choosing your niche as a freelance photographer.


How to Choose Your Freelance Photography Niche

Choosing the right niche is vital to your success as a freelance photographer. And it’s important to understand the earning potential of a niche before you start. Different niches attract very different rates. Some niches, like wedding photography, can be seasonal, so the work may not be consistent. Many freelancers specialise in several niches to ensure they have multiple streams of work (and therefore income) all year round. So, let’s take a look at the niches where you can make the most income as a freelance photographer.


How Much Do Freelance Photographers Make? (10 Niches)

1. Fashion Photography

For fashion photoshoots, you generally charge per hour with rates starting at around £25 to £50. More experienced photographers with a good reputation can easily charge £100 per hour, while the world’s top-tier fashion photographers charge upwards of £1,000 per hour!

2. Sports Photography

Most sports photographers work for magazines, sports companies, websites, or online streaming services. They earn an average annual income of around £20,000.

3. Freelance Photojournalism

As a photojournalist, you work for media companies to deliver images that help to tell the stories they are working on and give their publications the visual resources they need for new projects. It’s a fast-paced, real-time job in which you can expect to make an annual income of around £22,500. But an experienced photojournalist can leverage an income well above this.

4. Events Photography

Freelance events photographers charge per event and often specialise in a particular type of event, such as weddings or corporate conferences. Prices per job vary depending on your portfolio. They can range from £150 to £400 per job, depending on the host, venue, and type of event.

5. Travel Photography

Travel photography is a tough genre to break into and it involves finding the most desirable and unique travel locations all around the globe. There are several ways to make a good income as a travel photographer, including working for an online blog, a magazine, an airline company, or a local travel office. Pay for this kind of photography varies, starting at a few thousand pounds a year for absolute beginners, and getting into the tens of thousands for more experienced photographers.

6. Portrait Photography

With portraiture, you can work from your own home studio or rent out space in a commercial studio complex. You need to account for these costs when calculating your rate. For a portrait photoshoot, you usually charge per job. Rates range from around £100 to £200, depending on your reputation and experience.

7. Advertising and Marketing Photography

Working with companies, individual clients, and online businesses, an advertising photographer brings in around £36,000 per year. More established freelancers can earn more than £50,000 annually.

8. Freelance Stock Photography

Licensing your photos to sell in the public domain as a stock photographer is a real hit-and-miss niche. You’ll work with a stock photography website and can expect to receive around £1 per photo sale. But these websites take a fee, so you need to sell lots of images to make a sustainable living. Most freelancers sell stock photography as a side hustle rather than relying on it as their main form of income.

9. Wildlife Photography

As a wildlife photographer, you usually work with a wildlife media company, magazine, charity, or publication. Wildlife photography is hard work and not very well paid, usually coming in at less than £20,000 per year, so most of its practitioners do it as a labour of love.

10. Food Photography

This is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the freelance photography industry. You’ll have to find your own clients, such as food blogs, catering companies, local restaurants, or food retailers, and then arrange your own contract on an individual basis. A food photoshoot is usually priced between £100 to £500 per job, depending on its scale and the nature of your client.


Freelance Photography Income (UK)

Freelance photography prices in the UK depend on your experience, portfolio, and reputation. As a starting point, you should charge between £25 to £50 per hour for your work. And it’s not just your experience that matters. Rates also reflect the location so, for example, prices in London are significantly higher than in rural parts of Scotland.

One of the best ways to find out the going rate in your area and niche is to simply look at what other freelancers are charging! You can call them directly or check out their websites, where you’ll find the packages they offer and their prices. Remember to take their experience into account. So, if they’re well-established in the industry, you’ll probably have to charge a lower rate than them as a beginner.


Freelance Photography Income (USA)

The average annual income of an American freelance photographer also varies. It can start at around $30,000 and go up to around $80,000. The good news is that freelance photography in the US is a growth industry, particularly in terms of online opportunities.

E-commerce and digital marketing businesses require high-quality photos, and they often prefer to use a freelancer to cut out the agency and keep costs down. So, although there’s a lot of competition on the American market, there are also lots of new opportunities for beginner freelancers to earn an income as a photographer.


3 Ways to Increase Your Income as a Freelance Photographer

When you start your career as a freelance photographer, you might only work part-time while supplementing your income with another job. Later, as your business and client list grow, you can make the exciting transition to full-time freelancing.

But it’s not only the number of hours you put into your freelance photography business that determine its success. One of the most effective ways to increase your income as a freelancer is to diversify your services to create multiple streams of income. There are three ways you can do this.

1. Enter Photography Competitions

Once your business is up and running, it’s good to enter several competitions each year. If you win a competition, you’ll receive a monetary prize or equipment that you can use or sell to expand your business. On top of that, the recognition from winning a prize boosts your reputation and helps grow your public profile. This then attracts new clients and perhaps even opens unexpected doors with new contracts reaching out to you.

2. Set Up a YouTube Channel or Blog

Blogging, in text or video format, is a great way to build trust with your audience and attract new clients. It’s also a further opportunity to monetise your business through affiliate programs and sponsorship deals. Blogging is fun and it allows you to explain your methods, creative vision, and what inspires your photography. Blogging or running a YouTube channel can increase your exposure and both are good platforms on which to promote your own work. You can find out more about setting up a freelance photography website here.

3. Teach Photography

Another popular side income for freelancers is teaching photography. You can teach in person or online by creating downloadable courses for students. Once it’s set up, an online course is an excellent source of passive income. And in-person classes and workshops are an excellent opportunity to meet new people and expand your network of contacts in the industry.


How Much Will You Make as a Freelance Photographer?

Freelance photography can be a tough industry to break into. But once you’ve built up a good client base, it can be highly profitable, hugely rewarding, and it allows you to collaborate with other interesting creatives.

Salaries and incomes in the freelance photography industry vary considerably from one genre or location to another. The best way to ensure you have a stable income as a freelance photographer is to follow the market trends and constantly seek to diversify your business. You can learn more about freelance photography in this article, and we have lots of articles about freelancing in general over on the Sophical Blog.

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