Photographers may take photos for individuals or businesses during special events, take publicity photos for celebrities and hopefuls, or provide images to go along with news reports. Most photographers are self-employed; their salary depends on how many photographs they take during a given month. Thus, photographers must be willing to work hard to sell their services if they want to make a living.
Unlike traditional jobs that offer employees a set amount of money to start, photography salaries depend on the individual photographer's talent, portfolio and education and on how many clients hire him to take pictures in a given month. Photo Galaxy says that the average photographer makes between $14,000 and $54,748 per year, which averages out to between $1,110 and $4,562 per month.
Photographers who have taken photography courses at the college level or who have a degree in photography tend to make more than other photographers. These photographers can point to their education as additional evidence that a particular client should hire them. Many community colleges offer certificate programs in photography. These programs offer photographers contacts that they can use to build their businesses as well as an official diploma, which may boost client confidence.
As photographers gain experience, they build a portfolio of successful photographs that they can use to sell themselves to clients. Photography students must take various types of photographs to fulfill educational requirements and can use these to begin building their portfolio. Beginning photographers can also build a portfolio by taking various types of photographs on their own, such as headshots, background and scenery shots and portraits.
Photographers' salaries depend on how much money they put into the business as well as how much they get paid. For example, a beginning photographer who must spend money on cameras, lights and other high-priced equipment may be successful enough to earn $4,000 in a month, but he keeps less of that money than a more experienced photographer who does not need to buy as many supplies.