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Talking About Income In Photography: How Does That Make You Feel?

MoneyWhether it's photography or another career, it's only human nature to have various reactions to money discussions and many of them are not positive.

Before I dive in deeper, let me set the record straight on my personal stand, I turn 50 this year. I started doing photography in High School in 1982. I am way past getting jealous over what others make. If I wanted to be super rich and that was my goal, I'd likely be something other than a photographer. I love what I do. I make a good living doing it, but I'm not going to throw income in someone's face because there is always someone making more of it until it gets to the mega rich billionaire level then things change a little.

So no matter where you are at personally with your photography income, set goals for yourself and when you reach your initial goals, then set some new ones. Whatever you do, don't be discouraged by the photographers that like to blab their income whether it's someone you know personally or someone you know of.

There is a popular headshot photographer that seems to love saying things like "I get $1,200 for a headshot" - "It's $1,200 to get in front of my camera." Blah, blah, blah. Who cares? Why is it important to blab that? You may think that bothers me and that's why I'm pointing it out. Again, I turn 50 this year. I'm not a child. I just find it amusing that he is one of the few top photographers, actually the only one that comes to min, that seems to constantly toss that figure out.

The annual average income for a photographer is around $38,000 a year according to the US Labor & Statistics from 2014. That's less than $800 per week.

If you'd like to be a little better than the average wage as your initial goal, let's look at some easy math: $1,000 per week divided by 5 days is $200 per day. What would it take to make $200 per day after basic expenses like gas, insurance, travel, etc.? $1,000 a week may seem like a huge number, but when you break it down to $200 a day, it should seem a little more doable. If you want to make $750 per week, that is $150 per day based on 5 days. And if you want to make $500 per week, then that becomes $100 per day. So break your financial goals into manageable pieces like this and you will likely find them easier to achieve.

Don't let the success or financial talk of other photographers discourage you. They may be doing things that you are not willing to do like working 6 days a week, 12 hours per day and not being at home most nights with their family. For me, I love to be at home as many nights a week as I can which I am able to achieve on a very consistent basis and still make a good living doing what I love.

You are you. Set your own goals within your own limits. If you are only willing to work Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with no nights and weekends, just understand that in photography that it may limit your income, but if that's OK, stick to what works for you.


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David Williams

Short Bio About The Author: I'm David Williams a professional commercial photographer focusing on corporate and business clients with some personal branding, lifestyle photography in the mix. My love for photography began in late 1981 while still in High School. I started making money with his camera in 1982. Brenda, my wife, and I started working together in photography in 1988 shortly after we met. Brenda and I married in 1989 and have two adult daughters. Please be sure to get a quote for services if needed. Call or Text: 919.723.8453. Please reach out to connect with me on LinkedIn.