Making Money As A Photographer

There is a common misconception around how photographers work and get paid. People think that big magazines like Vogue or Sports Illustrated pay their photographers a lot of money for editorials work, but that’s not always true. Here’s how a photographer actually spends his/her time and how they get paid:

Editorial Work
Pay: not well 
Do it for: getting your name out there
Open a magazine, see that 8 page travel story? That’s the type of editorial photographs that doesn’t pay as much as you think it would. The photographer must work with the editor on the angle of the story, types of images needed. The editors have the final say on which images make the cut and best complements their story, sometimes these are not the same images preferred by the photographer. Although the pay is average and the photographer loses a degree of creative control, we do this because it helps to promote ourselves in the industry so we can get more commercial clients.

Commercial Work 

Pay: very nicely

Do it for: the money
Commercial work is the reason we do some or most of the editorial work. This is where the big bucks are made. Commercial work means taking images for clients to be used in advertising. The downside of commercial work is sometimes losing creative control to the client – or the client’s creative/marketing director. 
Personal Work
Pay: meager 
Do it for: the sake of art
If we do commercial work to pay the bills and we do editorial work to get commercial gigs, then it’s no wonder why creatives love personal work: this is the work we do for our own vision, art for art sake so to speak. There is nothing more liberating and creatively enticing than working on personal  photography projects. This is where we truly let our inner artists shine, in fact, the personal work section of your portfolio is one that most clients and editors look at first to determine your creative fit for their project. 

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4 responses to “Making Money As A Photographer

  1. Oh yes, doing stock photography and licensing images commercially is definitely another source of income. This one is tricky as I know some photographers who focus primarily on stock photography as their source of income but you need to have a lot of images available and have a licensing platform with a lot of traffic.

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