If a picture is worth a thousand words, one might expect it to be worth a fair chunk of change as well. And while only the top-tier photographers can charge $1,000 for a single snap of their shutter, there is still plenty of good money to be made in the photography industry. But what are some of the most lucrative niches for those looking to break into the photo biz?
Some of the most profitable photo niches include product photography, fashion photography, wedding photography, corporate portrait photography, film set photography, medical photography, and sports photography.
Of course, there is much more to choosing a niche than just what we’ve listed above. Keep reading for all the details you need to know for each specialty—including what you can expect them to pay!
How Can New Photographers Make Good Money When Starting Out?
In an industry that has as low of a barrier to entry as the photography business, it can often be hard to stand out in such a crowded marketplace and start making money. Luckily, photographers can use a few tricks to maximize their earning potential.
The first trick is to keep business expenses as low as possible. Don’t rent studio space until you need to, and keep an eye on expenses for essentials such as business insurance. Look at your current coverage and see if it is tailored to your needs. Are you sure you’re getting the best coverage for the price? Don’t be afraid to shop around online to compare rate quotes. Doing so can help you save money in a long run. (Typical photographer insurance policies can cost as little as $16 a month.) Still, there can also be a lot of coverage options. Comparing insurance options will also help you estimate coverage for things such as commercial vehicle insurance.
The second thing those new to the business can do is to take the money that they have saved and put it towards advertising. Not sure where to start with ads? Let your niche guide you and help get your message in front of people who are interested in your services. For example, advertising on a wedding registry website is probably a good idea for new wedding photographers. However, if you are looking to break into fashion photography, buying some Facebook ads to hawk your abilities probably isn’t going to cut it.
How Much Can Product Photographers Make?
Product photography isn’t the sexiest job, but you’ve almost certainly come across the end results in advertisements without even realizing it. In short, most product photography is commercial work that focuses on inanimate objects such as burgers and computers. These photos are later used in a variety of advertisements on everything from billboards to social media announcements.
While the job is one of the more challenging in the photo industry, mainly due to the difficulty of dealing with teams of corporate clients, the pay doesn’t necessarily reflect this. The median salary for a product photographer is $39,000.
How Much Can Fashion Photographers Make?
Fashion photography may seem like a glamorous gig, but it is actually a lot of hard work. Fashion shoots can last more than 12 hours with minimal downtime for photographers. These sorts of projects also require more of a support team.
Photo assistants and editors are basically a necessity when dealing with the volume of photos that a fashion shoot can produce. Some photographers will take thousands of photos for only a couple to be deemed worthy. And while the high-end earners can make six figures in this niche, the national average is more like $45,327.
How Much Can Wedding Photographers Make?
Wedding photos are some of the most prized possessions many people have. Wedding photography can be high stakes. No one wants to miss the big “I do!” kiss. Furthermore, the days are long with few breaks from the action. However, many photographers find being a part of a family’s special celebration a unique and enjoyable aspect that brings enjoyment to their job.
The issue that many come to have with wedding photography is that it can be highly seasonal, with a limited number of jobs that can be taken on during the busy spring and summer wedding season. So, while there is plenty of work to go around, competition and a photographer’s own time constraints mean that the actual number of jobs able to be taken will be substantially less. And while pay will vary among different states, wedding photographers are some of the highest-paid in the industry. In most areas, a wedding photographer can expect to clear $40 an hour.
How Much Can Corporate Portrait Photographers Make?
If you aren’t familiar with what corporate portraiture looks like, think of an elementary school’s photo day on steroids. The procedures will essentially be the same. A photographer will show up and shoot however many subjects have signed up to take their portrait taken. The photographer will have very little control over the setup. Primarily, the focus will be on capturing accurate and professional photos. Posing clients correctly will be of the utmost importance.
The appeal of this niche is that it requires minimal prep from the photographer, and work is fairly consistent year-round. The national average for a corporate photographer is $75,152 annually, making this one of the better-paying jobs in the photo industry.
How Much Can Film Set Photographers Make?
Film set photography may seem like a bit of a misnomer. After all, what could they still need photos for on a film set? Well, mostly, such images are used to offer behind-the-scenes evidence of the production and publicity photos. Stills are often also used for continuity purposes. This is because it is much easier to consult a snapshot of what an actor’s outfit looked like in the last scene and recreate it than it is off of video or written notes alone.
These photographers typically work for the film studio that is producing the film, and the studio maintains final control over all the artist’s work. In terms of pay, the annual salary range can be as low as $31,593 or as high as $44,249. This makes this one of the lower-paying jobs for potential shutterbugs to consider.
How Much Can Medical Photographers Make?
Medical photographers play an important role in the care of patients worldwide. These photographers use their skills to document the ailments, treatments, and (hopefully) the recovery of patients. While not the most accessible niche to break into, this specialty can be very lucrative, with the highest earners pushing well past six figures. The national average for such work is $45,049.
How Much Can Sports Photographers Make?
Being a sports photographer seems like a dream job to many. Getting exclusive access to sporting events in order to shoot athletes can be a nice perk, but it does come with downsides. Photographers working in this niche will likely find that their nights and weekends are dedicated to shooting events. This can make striking a healthy work-life balance a struggle.
This is also the niche with the largest range in potential pay. Are you just starting out in sports photography? You’ll be lucky to earn $19,000 annually. Are your sports shooting skills more in demand? You might be lucky enough to charge $100,000 for your services—or more!
Don’t Worry About Money, Shoot What You’re Passionate About
And there you have it, some of the best paying photo jobs around. There are options to pique everyone’s interest, and the pay in most niches, once you’re past entry-level, can be pretty good!
If the money involved in the niches above isn’t enough to attract you to one of them, don’t worry about it. Not everything has to be about money. And the dollar sign in your bank account is rarely a good measure of happiness. Do what you love as a photographer, work hard, and everything will take care of itself.