Elena Wiedlin

    A photographer standing on the ice trying to take a picture of the sunrise over downtown Chicago.

    Scott Olson // Getty Images

    In a world where 85% of American adults own a smartphone, photography has become a hobby accessible to virtually everyone. Yet professional photographers are still in high demand. The number of professional photographers over the next 10 years is expected to increase by 9%, nearly double the average growth rate projected across all industries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    There are approximately 38,420 active photographers in the United States. The career path offers a myriad of focus areas, such as wedding and event photography, family portraiture, portraits, photojournalism, advertising, fashion, and magazine shoots. A rapidly growing industry is stock photography; other photography work may focus on architecture, automobiles, landscapes, or science.

    Giggster analyzed May 2021 data from the BLS to determine the hourly and annual salaries of photographers in 20 of the most populous metropolitan areas. The metros are listed in alphabetical order and include the main city as well as surrounding towns and suburbs.

    The BLS classifies photographers as photographs of landscapes, merchandise, people, or other subjects. These workers may use lighting when shooting a subject to enhance certain features and use editing software when producing prints or images. The occupational field includes scientific photographers, photojournalists, and commercial and industrial photographers; it excludes similar professions such as cameramen, video and film and television.

    Means and medians have been calculated to broaden the scope of annual and hourly wages. An average is calculated by adding all salaries together and dividing by the number of salaries used. The median is calculated by the midpoint, where half the salaries are higher and the other half are lower.

    The average hourly salary for photographers in the United States is $23.18, with an average annual salary of $48,210. When calculating by median, the hourly salary for photographers is $18.73, with an annual salary of $38,950.

    Keep reading to see how much photographers are paid in 20 major metros.

    Atlanta

    A person on a downtown balcony with a long-lens camera pointed skyward.

    cendhika // Shutterstock

    – Photographers in the metro: 1,100
    – Average annual salary: $63,580
    – Median annual salary: $61,000
    – Average hourly wage: $30.57
    – Median hourly wage: $29.33

    Boston

    A person holding a camera on a boat with an American flag in the background.

    Roman Babakin // Shutterstock

    – Photographers in the metro: 530
    – Average annual salary: $55,270
    – Median annual salary: $50,340
    – Average hourly wage: $26.57
    – Median hourly wage: $24.20

    Chicago

    A person photographing a couple in wedding attire in front of a sculpture in downtown Chicago.

    Anne Richard // Shutterstock

    – Photographers in the metro: 1,390
    – Average annual salary: $53,340
    – Median annual salary: $46,910
    – Average hourly wage: $25.64
    – Median hourly wage: $22.55

    Cincinnati

    A view of downtown with a photographer taking pictures of two people in the foreground.

    Anne Kitzman // Shutterstock

    – Photographers in the metro: 340
    – Average annual salary: $41,790
    – Median annual salary: $36,510
    – Average hourly wage: $20.09
    – Median hourly wage: $17.56

    Dallas-Fort Worth

    A person taking a photo of downtown Dallas with a tripod at the waterfront.

    Nat Chittamai // Shutterstock

    – Photographers in the metro: 970
    – Average annual salary: $44,440
    – Median annual salary: $36,100
    – Average hourly wage: $21.37
    – Median hourly wage: $17.36

    denver

    A person taking pictures of a botanical garden.

    Light Studios Page // Shutterstock

    – Photographers in the metro: 520
    – Average annual salary: $53,180
    – Median annual salary: $45,340
    – Average hourly wage: $25.57
    – Median hourly wage: $21.80

    Detroit

    The Detroit skyline at sunset.

    Cloth

    – Photographers in the metro: 380
    – Average annual salary: $52,390
    – Median annual salary: $38,590
    – Average hourly wage: $25.19
    – Median hourly wage: $18.55

    Houston

    Downtown Houston buildings at sunset.

    Cloth

    – Photographers in the metro: 780
    – Average annual salary: $39,890
    – Median annual salary: $33,750
    – Average hourly wage: $19.18
    – Median hourly wage: $16.23

    Vegas

    A photographer takes a photo of a family from his car.

    Ethan Miller // Getty Images

    – Photographers in the metro: 400
    – Average annual salary: $33,500
    – Median annual salary: $30,220
    – Average hourly wage: $16.11
    – Median hourly wage: $14.53

    Angels

    A photographer in all black wearing two cameras around his neck, with boats and palm trees in the background.

    Kit Leong // Shutterstock

    – Metro photographers: quote not available
    – Average annual salary: $51,340
    – Median annual salary: $46,550
    – Average hourly wage: $24.68
    – Median hourly wage: $22.38

    miami

    A photographer and his assistants taking pictures of someone on the beach with a red and white striped lifeguard stand at the edge of the water.

    Jan’s Snail House // Shutterstock

    – Photographers in the metro: 1,000
    – Average annual salary: $53,090
    – Median annual salary: $48,860
    – Average hourly wage: $25.52
    – Median hourly wage: $23.49

    Minneapolis-St. Paul

    Photographers set up to shoot the Minneapolis skylie at dusk.

    Sam Wagner // Shutterstock

    – Photographers in the metro: 630
    – Average annual salary: $49,380
    – Median annual salary: $48,320
    – Average hourly wage: $23.74
    – Median hourly wage: $23.23

    New York City

    Photographers taking pictures of Manhattan at sunset from the water.

    Eileen_10 // Shutterstock

    – Photographers in the metro: 3,260
    – Average annual salary: $62,730
    – Median annual salary: $55,770
    – Average hourly wage: $30.16
    – Median hourly wage: $26.81

    philadelphia cream

    A person taking a picture of a "love" sign in Philadelphia.

    Raymond well // Shutterstock

    – Photographers in the metro: 560
    – Average annual salary: $47,050
    – Median annual salary: $43,000
    – Average hourly wage: $22.62
    – Median hourly wage: $20.67

    Phoenix

    Two people sit in a stone gazebo while one of them photographs the view of Phoenix.

    Gregory E. Clifford // Shutterstock

    – Photographers in the metro: 690
    – Average annual salary: $44,590
    – Median annual salary: $32,920
    – Average hourly wage: $21.44
    – Median hourly wage: $15.83

    San Francisco

    A photographer walks past a wedding party on a street in San Francisco.

    drserg // Shutterstock

    – Photographers in the metro: 770
    – Average annual salary: $66,140
    – Median annual salary: $59,100
    – Average hourly wage: $31.80
    – Median hourly wage: $28.41

    Seattle

    A photographer takes pictures on a tripod above the city center.

    EB Adventure Photography // Shutterstock

    – Photographers in the metro: 630
    – Average annual salary: $65,810
    – Median annual salary: $74,880
    – Average hourly wage: $31.64
    – Median hourly wage: $36.00

    Saint Louis

    A photographer highlights a graduate in a cap and gown in a field of sunflowers.

    Matthew Munsell // Shutterstock

    – Photographers in the metro: 300
    – Average annual salary: $41,270
    – Median annual salary: $36,640
    – Average hourly wage: $19.84
    – Median hourly wage: $17.61

    Tampa

    A team of photographers setting up equipment among the palm trees.

    Yes, I photograph models // Shutterstock

    – Photographers in the metro: 480
    – Average annual salary: $38,020
    – Median annual salary: $29,780
    – Average hourly wage: $18.28
    – Median hourly wage: $14.32

    washington d.c.

    Malachi Jacobs // Shutterstock

    – Photographers in the metro: 650
    – Average annual salary: $70,440
    – Median annual salary: $60,720
    – Average hourly wage: $33.86
    – Median hourly wage: $29.19

    This story originally appeared on Giggster and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.



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