Who Pays Photographers

- - Working

In response to the tumblr “Who Pays Writers” someone created an anonymous version for photographers: Who Pays Photographers?

You can anonymously submit (here) what you were paid to shoot for a magazine along with some of the terms and conditions. There’s a spreadsheet of all the results on the blog and (here). If you’ve been in this business for awhile it’s mostly what you already knew or thought someone paid. If you’re new to photography you might be a bit shocked.

There Are 31 Comments On This Article.

  1. I am not so shocked.. it was quite expectable to see such rates. I used to work for Polish daily newspaper and sometimes I was getting paid around $1 for headshoot … getting $2-5 dolars for photo published on internet seems for me also quite familiar… only thing I can say – I am happy I am not depended on such income anymore

  2. At $5,000, it looks like the wedding photographer is the winner so far by a wide margin. But if wedding clients sophisticated enough to pay for quality start seeing databases like this with a bunch of zeros, they too may start to wonder, why should I pay 5K, when Nylon pays zero for its editorials?

    • The thing with a wedding photographer, is they don’t get to stuff up and the images that are created are meant to last a life time, rather than end up being some discarded rag that ends up on some hair salons waiting list read pile. I shoot editorial and wedding and the later is far more pressure… you think with editorial, you are getting the one look… wedding you have different locations, different people… (most of which who have never taken camera instruction in their lives). People pay for wedding photographers, because they need to put faith that the person on the other side of the glass has what it takes to deliver them the memories that they have spent so many tiresome months in creating. In saying this, I think that editorial rates are damn disgusting… the titles ride off the backs of people who “want to build a portfolio by saying they worked for such and such title”. It’s absolute absurdity, as a photographer I have had to start turning down editorial shoots in favor for wedding gigs, I think it is so rude that you the photographer have to work your ass off to buy all the camera gear, battery packs and lights… and every Tom, Dick and Barry gets to use it all for nothing.

      Nobody blinks an eye lid when someone pays X amount to buy a dress, or have a cake or rent a car… but, the poor photographer has to fight every step of the way.

      That hardly seems fair.

  3. Tim,

    Wedding Photographers aren’t over charging, the average wedding photographer gets paid around 3K all inclusive, delivering over 1,000 images – pure math makes that $3 per image – with unlimited licensing. Lots of wedding photogs even hand over copyright and include wedding albums in that pricing.

    • Oh, no, I definitely didn’t mean to imply I think wedding photographers are over-charging! By “winner” I guess I meant they’re some of the few able to maintain a viable business in the face of other high quality photography being done for little or nothing. But there is a difference between a complete service, and a mere magazine submission, so I realize they’re not entirely the same anyway.

  4. i mean… on quick glance… this is very skewed towards dissatisfied folks who are bummed they’re getting next to nothing for a one-time use on a small-run, quasi-niche website. or that newspapers pay very little. welcome to the 21st century. in the magazine world, budgets are still healthy and you can make a living. not 1990s cocaine healthy, but “if you’re new to photography” you can still know that national mags pay around 1500-2K for their one-day local assignments.

    • It seems many of these photographers also didn’t know how to write an invoice that bills for everything they do as an expense.

    • Donnor Party

      Yeah. When I last worked editorial, fashion, even when the rate was “$0″ I billed for expenses and usage, usually making $2k-$3k, three-six pages. The advantage was that I always received catalogue work on the back of the editorial and pulled in at least $30k. I don’t recomend this to new shooters, because they probably won’t get the catalogue shoot. But remember, bill out retouching (that you do), digital fees, and rent your gear to yourself.

        • I use excel with homegrown templates because it works for me and 99% of invoices follow the same pattern – but if I were starting all over I would use blinkbid and recommend it to my assistants. I may eventually switch.

        • I love Fresh Books. It’s an investment ($25/month I think), but as someone who doesn’t care much for the paperwork end of estimating and invoicing it’s really easy to setup and use and look professional.

          • Thanks Craig and Cal (and Renee for asking), I’ll definatly have a look at Fresh Books and Blinkbid.

  5. Wow this is great, having this much insight into pricing, and knowing who to focus on. Thanks guys, I’ll submit my info later on.

  6. time was…late nineties, early two thousand…i did fashion
    feature for magazines at 30% of my day rates…but it was
    a great way to experiment, meet models,makeup artistes,stylist…and,
    sometimes, get spinoff assignments…though i no longer do
    magazine stuff now, i believe, in india(mumbai/delhi, this is still the
    norm…what has changed perhaps, from what i hear, is long
    delayed payments…

  7. Chris Nuzzaco

    I’m not surprised that the highest paid person by far was the guy working with an advertisement client.

  8. It’s hard making a living as a photographer these days. I do a lot of real estate photography for realtors. These people are even more stingy than a local publication. I average about $175 per house for 20 images. Some of these homes are 7 and 8 figures and the realtors still complain about how much I charge.

    • look into what it would take to offer a smaller fee,…and,…. a percentage of the commission on the sale. I would have a lawyer brainstorm it with you though. Think of the various ways a realtor could weasel out and write the contract accordingly

  9. I work in advertising and editorial (fashion, food, travel.) and have been lucky enough to make a good living for years. And it has often occurred to me that the wedding guys have it pretty good. The successful ones get decent wages, and get their checks 100% paid months in advance! Try that in any other genre. Go ahead, I dare you.

    • And yes I agree, the rates in this chart are absurdly low. Though I work in the bigger markets in the U.S. (NYC, LA, SF…)

      • Chris Nuzzaco

        Most of these rates are from businesses that are dying off, so I don’t think this is the best example of what the industry is like as a whole. There are a lot of other ways to make money with a camera. I could probably be a wealthy wedding photographer, but I have ZERO passion for weddings, so I just can’t go that road.

  10. Don’t y’all get yourselves too much in a tizzy over this chart. These types of surveys tend to attract the poor-pitiful-me kinds of stories as opposed to the look-how-succesful-I-am, tale tellers. I think the ratio between the two in this ‘who pays photographers’ list is just about exactly right . Chris Nuzzaco is right, there are many ways to make money with a camera… and many ways to use a camera to make money in any particular market. The choice is all ours. But that’s not to say this survey is not useful for its cautionary value to new shooters, as Rob suggests. Lesson: choose not to work for people who who cause you to lose money.

  11. Wow. I am going to stop complaining. I had no clue that the paying rates were so low. I had no clue how lucky I have been…knock on wood. I thought I was not getting enough at 350 Euros. for 3 hours of work (my normal rate…because I could not get clients if I charged more. This was an eye opener, I thought that once more people know about me, I could charge more and make killer rates! Haha, joke is on me! However, I did get ripped off for a book cover for a few hundred.

    Now I know to keep doing what I have been doing and with a bigger smile! However, I am really sad at the market zero? really? Pay to get published? really? I think that we as photographer’s should ban together somehow..the problem is that so many will do something for $25 or for free. We are worth so much more than that!