I was blessed with the opportunity this past week to present to a class of Indiana University students who are studying and are passionate about photography.
Among many questions and interesting discussions, the students were keenly interested to know how much money they can make as a professional photographer.
Fair enough. My own son is about to graduate from college, so I’m aware of the significance of income in a young adult’s mind in 2018.
There are so many ways to answer the money question. Geography is a primary consideration, of course. But, if not based on either coast, and, instead, working in the Heartland (excluding Chicago, of course), income is so largely determinative by the number of days in a year and your talent level, as simplistic as that sounds.
A small-market Heartland good photographer should be able to average at least roughly $500 per session, which (math was NOT my strong suit!), if he/she works 365 days per year, would be over $180,000 in annual income. There’s a line, however, that most photographers draw, in the desire for time off. The work, while wildly exhilarating, is also exceedingly taxing. There’s editing, meetings, business travel, emails, phone calls, seminars, classes, etc….. As well, of course, there are the expenses of a studio and the camera equipment, naturally, both of which vary tremendously, based on a multitude of factors.
The final analysis? I wouldn’t go into photography as a career to earn “a lot” of money, but, equally, I wouldn’t walk away from the dream to be a self-employed photographer because of the fear that the earning potential is limited. A good photographer (inclusive of being a good businessperson) can make well over the income of a teacher, professor or the equivalent, AND have ample time off. It’s a great life, albeit one that’s a constant series of choices — time-on versus time-off being high on the list among them. Read More