Are you a minimum wage photographer?


I always see people posting on social media about how they are unhappy about the fact that “hobbyist” photographers are undercutting “professional” photographers pricing. I see people complain about how its ruined the photography industry and how they are discouraged. However, some of these professional photographers that are complaining still have some stuff to learn as well. Recently someone posted about this topic and stated what they were charging and explained that they wanted to eventually do photography full-time. Now, while everyone has to start somewhere we never want to sell ourselves short of the end goal. I started doing some thinking about the rates they were charging clients and started doing a little math on what it would take to pay bills, buy groceries, pay taxes, and put some in savings…

I wanted something to compare to so I started with the United States national average minimum wage which is $7.25 an hour… At $7.25 an hour while working 40 hours a week for an entire year one will gross $15,080. The figure this person said they were charging was $175 for a shoot. To make this same amount in a year this photographer would need to shoot roughly 86 photo shoots in a year which averages out to 1.7 photo shoots per week. That does not seem difficult but it is actually more difficult than it seems considering the thousands upon thousands of other professional and hobbyist photographers who are charging the same amount of money. Keep in mind…. This is just to make minimum wage…

I used to have a job where I was on straight commission. I made close to $70,000/year a few times. I was married and in the process of starting a family. and the sole income provider… Lets do the math using that $175 per photo shoot…

$70,000 / $175 per shoot = 400 photo shoots per yr or 7.7 photo shoots per wk… Forget it! Photography may be your passion but you don’t realize how quick photography WILL NOT be your passion anymore doing that many shoots a week while shooting stuff your clients demand and stuff you may not even WANT to shoot! I’d say that the photographers who are shooting 7 shoots per week have people working for them doing post work and other jobs, and those photographers are grossing a lot more than $70,000 / year.

Weddings tend to be a little more pricey in the photography industry so lets say one wants to gross $70,000 in a year doing weddings and the photographer was going to shoot one wedding a week they would need to charge…

$1,333 x 52 weddings in a yr or one wedding a week = $69,316 and that’s if you can average one wedding a week for an entire year at $1,333.


All this is to just make one think about the future… You may not desire to be rich and make lots of money off photography. However, if you want to do photography as a full-time job and make a decent living you are going to have to figure out your cost of doing business and how much you’re going to charge. You definitely don’t want to charge $175 for 5 years or so while establishing a target market and a client base, then figure out you need to double, triple, or quadruple your rates to make what you need to make to live how you want to live or raise a family. If so, you will lose your clients and need to start from scratch gaining a new target market and client base. And you definitely don’t want to be stuck being a minimum wage photographer!

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