A&P It's a silly question, but I have to ask it.

Discussion in 'Lifestyle' started by hootpie, Sep 10, 2008.

  1. hootpie

    hootpie New Member

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    First, pardon the large number of threads as of late. I'm getting closer and closer to getting serious about photography. I know it can be annoying especially when the questions are entry-level, so thanks for the patience and replies.

    With that being said, what kind of money can be made in photography? I know it's a very generic question, so I'll try to narrow it down.

    What do the highest paid photographers make per year (rough estimate)?
    What field of photography pays the most?
    What would a decent wedding photographer make per year?

    Things of that nature, but not limited to just that. I know it is heavily dependent on your skills, marketing, and connections, but I'm trying to get a rough idea.
     
  2. aCab

    aCab New Member

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    1. Millions
    2. High End Commercial or Wedding
    3. Depends on how you sell yourself. Say you shoot a wedding a week at $4000 a pop - thats $208,000 a year.
     
  3. Jbrown

    Jbrown OT Supporter

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    4k a wedding. That is high end, lol
     
  4. aCab

    aCab New Member

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    naw son, 10-15, even 20k is high end.
     
  5. Jbrown

    Jbrown OT Supporter

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  6. Dwight Schrute

    Dwight Schrute New Member

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    Haha no, that's average. 25K+ is high end.
     
  7. Tedrzz

    Tedrzz New Member

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    Gary Fong...ya know, the guy who invented the light sphere..he was a wedding photographer, and by the end of his career was charging a minimum of 120,000 dollars to shoot a wedding.

    If you're worried about making alot of money photography isnt for you. A very very small percentage actually can make enough money taking pictures to support themself and live comfortably. I bet if you graduated with a business degree you'd probably make more money off the bat than most photographers do in along time. BUT, there are those people who get lucky and make a ton of money.
     
  8. jared_IRL

    jared_IRL OT Supporter

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    one of the professors I work with at school teaches photography 3 days a week and then shoots weddings on the weekends...

    He makes about 40k a year as a part time college professor + full benefits, and charges a base of $5k per wedding.

    Not a bad living....
     
  9. Girth

    Girth ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ OT Supporter

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    1. people like Nahn Photography (here in H-town) charges minimum of $5,000 and upwards of $15,000 per. Avg. in Houston is close to $1,800 per wedding... but I'm sure the avg is brought down by people trying to book shit, not using their selling skills. so, if you're SUPER busy and you have 40 weddings in a year (if you're that good), thats a good amount. If you charge $5,000+ times 40 :eek3:

    do the math. its all competition

    2. Commercial usually pays the most per shoot and has more residual. A friend does it, and he makes goooood money. 30 minute shoot, company gets 10 pics to use for year, have to pay again to use the same pics next year again, or have him take more pics. He started in weddings, moved to commercial.

    3. refer to no. 1

    don't forget competition in your neck of the woods is probably the stiffest out of the whole country. So, if you want to get noticed... gotta get out there and get dirty. Its tough for me in Houston, and I'm in another massive wedding area of the country w/ a bunch of great photogs.
     
  10. Girth

    Girth ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ OT Supporter

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    if you keep your nose to the grindstone, shouldn't be that hard. Even if you're charging avg. Just get your name out there. Harder said than done... but it can be done. Determination > *
     
  11. xenon supra

    xenon supra OT Supporter

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    If he works 40 weekends a year that's 80,000 + 40,000 for teaching.

    Not bad living, but that's not too ballin' either.
     
  12. jared_IRL

    jared_IRL OT Supporter

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    Think about it another way...

    He's making ~$120k a year working entirely in photography.

    Not many people can say that.

    But on another note, that career path is something that every single one of us on this site can achieve if we wanted too. His prices for weddings aren't 'baller', they're average. He makes average salary as a college professor.

    I don't know about you, but i'd consider ditching my day job AND doubling my current salary pretty baller....
     
  13. Jonny Chimpo

    Jonny Chimpo OT Supporter

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    For some perspective, this question is a lot like asking "I'm thinking about taking a business class, how much do the highest paid CEO's get per year?" Seriously, your questions have about as much relevance to a first time DSLR buyer as what Donald Trump's income is to a high school senior thinking about an MBA.

    Unless your work is very, VERY good and you have a knack for absolutely genius marketing and social networking, you'll probably never reach the top level of the photography industry and you'll drive yourself nuts in the process.

    As everyone else has said, commercial and wedding will pay the most, and of those two, wedding will be the easier of the two to get into. Now that's not to say it's easy at all, it isn't. It's just relatively speaking, it's easier than commercial. Personally, I think wedding photograhy comes with far greater headaches as well since you have to deal with people under tremendous personal stress, you're likely to have to deal with "Bridezilla" or the in-law from hell at least occasionally.

    All that being said, the national median income for a photographer in the U.S. is around $50k (source: http://swz.salary.com/salarywizard/layouthtmls/swzl_compresult_national_CM02000016.html) with $60k for the 75th percentile. I'm not sure that the population sample for that salary study includes all types photographers. Even so, when people say that top photographers make millions you need to understand that only a handful make that much and they are people at the caliber of a James Nachtwey, or Annie Leibovitz.

    A realistic expectation is that if you shoot weddings, you'll probably be able to work yourself into a career making anywhere from $40k to $120k depending on your market size, your marketing ability and your skill (in that order) and you'd probably be able to do that within 1~3 years, again depending on those three factors. In other words, you can certainly make a comfortable living doing wedding photography but don't expect to become a millionaire from it.

    It's not like photography is just easy money, you have as much chance of being at the top of the photographic industry as you have of being at the top of any other industry. No matter what field you work in, it takes skill, hard work, luck and an entrepreneurial spirit that some people just don't have to reach the top. That's why so few people get there.
     
  14. Girth

    Girth ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ OT Supporter

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    That's my goal. When I do it, I will consider myself successful.
     
  15. Gvidon

    Gvidon New Member

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    Yervant said his top has been something like 75K for one wedding :bowdown:
     
  16. dooks88

    dooks88 need some bat wings

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    40 x 5000 = 80,000???
     
  17. jared_IRL

    jared_IRL OT Supporter

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    80k of pure profit might not be too far off...

    taxes, paying 2nd photog/assistants, photo equipment, printing, etc.
     
  18. ericande

    ericande Active Member

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    Lol, that's what i was thinking.


    Let's say he actually does something more like 25 weddings per year. His base is $5k which based on my limited experience means his average wedding is closer to $8k. Let's say he ends up keeping half of that, the other is a cost of something or another. That's $100k just from weddings.


    To the OP, I'm just trying to start making some money doing photography. I just shot my first wedding (cheaply, for a friend) and am doing some real estate photography. I don't intend to make a living solely off photography but I hope to make around $25k a year doing it to fund motorcycle racing and other expensive hobbies I seem to fall in love with.

    Making money in photography is more about your business skills than photo ability. There are a lot of shitty photogs out there making a good living. Learn to take decent photos and get excellent at marketing and making close to a $100k a year is achievable and realistic. Learn to take great photos and not learn anything about the business and you have no chance.

    You also stand a better chance at doing well if the type of photography you get into is something you actually enjoy, don't just do it because people say you can make the most money at it. You can find people who make money in every aspect of photography. There are a couple nature photogs out there who make a few hundred grand a year even.... of course, you have to be talented, have business skills and get lucky to do that.
     
  19. Wheezer

    Wheezer OT Supporter

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    Do it because you love it and have a passion for it...the money will come.


    This is also what is driving down the profits. Crappy photographers doing weddings for next to nothing. Why pay a good photographer what their worth when you can pay some hack with camera $200 to shoot one of the most important days of your life?

    BTW Girth, if you ever need a second shooter for a wedding... :x:
     
  20. Girth

    Girth ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ OT Supporter

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    Website is up, business cards are out, and advertising through facebook and (soon) google. If I get anything worth a shit, I'll need help. I have a fellow Nikonian in Austin I'm doing 2 weddings with the next 2 months that told me he's willing to come down here if need be. I wouldn't mind a backup, or even a third shooter at those bigger events. :big grin:

    You shoot Nikon?
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2008
  21. SugarCoatedSour

    SugarCoatedSour OT Supporter

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    You're asking way too soon for a guy that isn't even sure what brand to buy into yet. Don't worry about going pro the day after you get your first DSLR.

    Baby steps, man.
     
  22. FusionZ06

    FusionZ06 /\__/\__/\__0>

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    For all you know you might not even have the photography eye or talent :rofl:

    Get a camera first dude.
     
  23. mojito

    mojito New Member

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    yeah no, he put that up there to draw traffic to his site :rofl:
     
  24. mojito

    mojito New Member

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    a shitload
    commercial / advertising
    first off, the most talkented people aren't the highest paid.
    the avg "pro" is less than 23k
    skill alone will get you no where, its about sales and networking and who you know
     
  25. mojito

    mojito New Member

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    since we're talking about the high end pro, a newb with a rebel on craigslist isn't your competition. the low end person has competition, and the high end goes higher as people pay for art not hired help. the middle of the road person is in trouble depending on what direction they go
     

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