Salaries For Portrait Photographer


A portrait photographer is a professional photographer who produces high-quality portraits of people for either personal or commercial purposes. Headshots, family portraits, wedding photography, and other types of photographs that feature individuals or small groups of people are examples of portrait photography. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for photographers in the United States was $36,280 as of May 2020. Let us know ‘Salaries For Portrait Photographer’.

Salaries For Portrait Photographer

Average salaries for a portrait photographer

The average salary for a portrait photographer varies on several factors like the location where they work, their experience level, and the type of photography they specialize in. According to the website Payscale, the average salary for a portrait photographer is around $45,000 per year. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $20,610, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $76,220

According to industry data and online job postings, the average salary for a portrait photographer in the United States ranges between $42,000 and $65,000 per year. Some successful and experienced portrait photographers earn significantly more, charging hundreds or even thousands of dollars per session.

Average salaries for portrait photographers in different US cities

The following are the mean annual wages for a portrait photographer in selected metropolitan areas of the United States,

  • New York, NY – $59,000 per year
  • Los Angeles, CA – $53,000 per year
  • Chicago, IL – $43,000 per year
  • Houston, TX – $41,000 per year
  • Atlanta, GA – $39,000 per year
  • Denver, CO – $42,000 per year
  • Seattle, WA – $44,000 per year
  • Miami, FL – $40,000 per year
  • Boston, MA – $49,000 per year
  • San Francisco, CA – $64,000 per year

Specialty Portrait Photography and Associated Salaries

Specialty portrait photography refers to a variety of types of portrait photography that require the required skills, equipment, or knowledge. Some examples of specialty portrait photography include:

  • Newborn Photography – capturing images of newborn babies during the first few weeks of life.
  • Maternity Photography – taking portraits of expectant mothers to celebrate their pregnancy.
  • Boudoir Photography – creating sensual, romantic, or intimate portraits of individuals or couples.
  • Pet Photography – taking photos of pets with their owners, for keepsakes or commercial purposes.
  • Senior Portraits photography – capturing high school or college seniors in a variety of poses and settings.
  • Wedding Photography – documenting the entire wedding day and portraits of the couple and their families.

According to Payscale data, the following are the average salaries of the above type of photographers in the United States:

  • Newborn Photographer – $47,000 per year
  • Maternity Photographer – $40,000 per year
  • Boudoir Photographer – $54,000 per year
  • Pet Photographer – $38,000 per year
  • Senior Portrait Photographer –  $37,000 per year
  • Wedding Photographer – $49,000 per year

Freelance vs Employed: Salary Differences for Portrait Photographers

There are some differences in the salaries of freelance portrait photographers and those who are employed by a company. The average salary for a full-time employed portrait photographer is $44,000 per year, while the average hourly salary for freelance portrait photographers is $30 per hour. There are some key factors under consideration when comparing the salaries of freelancing and employed portrait photographers:

  • Hourly or project-based rates: While employed photographers receive a salary or hourly payment, freelance photographers charge an hourly or project-based rate for their services. Because they are responsible for their equipment, marketing, and other business expenses, freelancers may be able to charge higher rates for their services.
  • Level of experience: Experienced freelancing photographers with a strong portfolio and a loyal clientele can command higher rates than employed photographers. Entry-level freelance photographers, on the other hand, struggle to find consistent work and may need to charge lower rates to build their portfolios.
  • Job security: Because they are hired for ongoing positions or contracts, employed photographers may have more job security than freelancers. Freelancers may have to work harder to find new customers and projects, resulting in a more volatile income.

Perks and Benefits Offered to Portrait Photographers in Addition to Salary

In addition to a salary or hourly wage, some portrait photographers may be compensated with extra perks and benefits. The following are some examples of perks and benefits a portrait photographer may receive:

  • Health insurance: Some companies and organizations include health insurance as part of their benefits package, which can help cover medical expenses and provide photographers and their families with peace of mind.
  • Employers may provide 401(k) or other retirement plans to help photographers save for the future.
  • Equipment allowance: Some companies may offer equipment allowances to assist photographers in purchasing and maintaining their equipment.
  • Travel opportunities: Photographers who work for destination or travel companies may be able to travel to various locations and take photos for their clients, which can be a fun and exciting perk.
  • Education and training: Some employers may provide education and training opportunities to photographers to help them develop their skills and keep up with the latest trends and techniques in portrait photography.
  • Freelance photographers may enjoy the creative freedom that comes with working for themselves because they can choose their clients, projects, and photography styles.
  • Flexibility: Freelance photographers may also appreciate the freedom to set their schedules and work from home or on location, which can be a significant benefit for those who value work-life balance.

Future Outlook for Portrait Photographer Salaries

The future outlook for portrait photographer salaries is difficult to predict because it will be influenced by a variety of factors such as the state of the economy, technological advancements, and changing consumer preferences. However, the following are some potential trends that may affect portrait photographers’ salaries in the coming years:

  • Amateur competition: As digital cameras and photo editing software become more accessible and affordable, more people may become interested in photography as a hobby or side business. This could result in increased competition for professional portrait photographers, putting downward pressure on pay.
  • Consumer preferences for portrait photography may change as a result of changing cultural, demographic, and technological trends. For example, there could be an increase in demand for more diverse and inclusive portraits, as well as more immersive or interactive experiences. Photographers who can adapt to changing preferences may be able to command higher pay.
  • Demand for video and multimedia content: As video becomes more popular on social media platforms and other digital channels, portrait photographers who can offer video and multimedia content in addition to still photography may see an increase in demand. Photographers who can provide these services may be able to command a higher salary.
  • Emphasis on digital skills: In addition to traditional photography skills, portrait photographers may need to develop expertise in digital editing and social media marketing to stay competitive. Photographers who can offer a range of services and skills may be able to command higher salaries.


In conclusion, the salaries for portrait photographers can vary widely depending on factors including experience level, location, industry, and type of employment. Some portrait photographers may work for studios or companies, while others may do freelancing or run their businesses. In addition to salaries or hourly wages, portrait photographers may receive benefits and perks including health insurance, retirement plans, and equipment allowances.

Some of the top-paying cities for portrait photographers include San Francisco, New York, and Santa Barbara. Looking to the future, the outlook for portrait photographer salaries depends on various factors, including competition from amateurs, the need to develop digital skills, shifts in consumer preferences, and demand for video and multimedia content. Despite these potential challenges, the demand for high-quality, professional portrait photography remains strong in the coming years.

Salaries For Portrait Photographer

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