A photographer standing on ice trying to catch a photo of the sunrise over downtown Chicago.
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How much photographers get paid in 20 major metros

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January 23, 2023
Scott Olson // Getty Images

How much photographers get paid in 20 major metros

In a world where 85% of American adults own a smartphone, photography has become an accessible hobby for virtually anyone. Yet professional photographers are still in high demand. The number of professional photographers in the next 10 years is expected to grow by 9%—nearly double the average projected growth rate across all industries—according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There are an estimated 38,420 working photographers in the United States. The career path offers myriad focus areas, such as wedding and event photography, family portraiture, headshots, photojournalism, advertising, fashion, and magazine shoots. A rapidly growing sector is stock photography; other photography jobs may focus on architecture, automobiles, landscapes, or science.

Giggster analyzed May 2021 data from the BLS to determine the hourly and annual wages of photographers across 20 of the most populated metropolitan areas. Metros are listed alphabetically and include the main city along with surrounding towns and suburbs.

The BLS categorizes photographers as photographing landscapes, merchandise, people, or other subjects. These workers may use lighting when shooting a subject to enhance certain features and employ editing software when producing prints or images. The occupational field includes science photographers, photojournalists, and commercial and industrial photographers; it excludes similar professions such as camera operators, video and film, and television.

Averages and medians were calculated to broaden the scope of annual and hourly wages. An average is calculated by adding all the salaries and dividing by the number of salaries used. The median is calculated by the middle point, where half the salaries are higher, and half are lower.

The average hourly wage for photographers in the U.S. is $23.18, with an average annual wage of $48,210. When calculating by median, the hourly wage for photographers is $18.73, with an annual wage of $38,950.

Keep reading to see how much photographers are paid in 20 major metros.

A person on a downtown balcony with a long-lens camera pointed at the sky.
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cendhika // Shutterstock

Atlanta

- Photographers in metro: 1,100
- Average annual wage: $63,580
- Median annual wage: $61,000
- Average hourly wage: $30.57
- Median hourly wage: $29.33

A person holding a camera on a boat with an American flag in the background.
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Roman Babakin // Shutterstock

Boston

- Photographers in metro: 530
- Average annual wage: $55,270
- Median annual wage: $50,340
- Average hourly wage: $26.57
- Median hourly wage: $24.20

A person photographing a couple in wedding attire in front of a sculpture in downtown Chicago.
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Anne Richard // Shutterstock

Chicago

- Photographers in metro: 1,390
- Average annual wage: $53,340
- Median annual wage: $46,910
- Average hourly wage: $25.64
- Median hourly wage: $22.55

A view of downtown with a photographer taking pictures of two people in the foreground.
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Anne Kitzman // Shutterstock

Cincinnati

- Photographers in metro: 340
- Average annual wage: $41,790
- Median annual wage: $36,510
- Average hourly wage: $20.09
- Median hourly wage: $17.56

A person taking a photograph of downtown Dallas with a tripod on the edge of water.
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Nat Chittamai // Shutterstock

Dallas-Fort Worth

- Photographers in metro: 970
- Average annual wage: $44,440
- Median annual wage: $36,100
- Average hourly wage: $21.37
- Median hourly wage: $17.36

A person taking images of a botanical garden.
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Page Light Studios // Shutterstock

Denver

- Photographers in metro: 520
- Average annual wage: $53,180
- Median annual wage: $45,340
- Average hourly wage: $25.57
- Median hourly wage: $21.80

The Detroit skyline at sunset.
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Canva

Detroit

- Photographers in metro: 380
- Average annual wage: $52,390
- Median annual wage: $38,590
- Average hourly wage: $25.19
- Median hourly wage: $18.55

Downtown Houston buildings at sunset.
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Canva

Houston

- Photographers in metro: 780
- Average annual wage: $39,890
- Median annual wage: $33,750
- Average hourly wage: $19.18
- Median hourly wage: $16.23

A photographer snaps a photo of a family from their car.
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Ethan Miller // Getty Images

Las Vegas

- Photographers in metro: 400
- Average annual wage: $33,500
- Median annual wage: $30,220
- Average hourly wage: $16.11
- Median hourly wage: $14.53

A photographer in all black wearing two cameras around his neck, with boats and palm trees in the background.
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Kit Leong // Shutterstock

Los Angeles

- Photographers in metro: estimate not available
- Average annual wage: $51,340
- Median annual wage: $46,550
- Average hourly wage: $24.68
- Median hourly wage: $22.38

A photographer and their assistants taking photos of someone on the beach with a red and white striped lifeguard stand  by the water.
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Jan Schneckenhaus // Shutterstock

Miami

- Photographers in metro: 1,000
- Average annual wage: $53,090
- Median annual wage: $48,860
- Average hourly wage: $25.52
- Median hourly wage: $23.49

Photographers set up to shoot the Minneapolis skylie at twilight.
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Sam Wagner // Shutterstock

Minneapolis-St. Paul

- Photographers in metro: 630
- Average annual wage: $49,380
- Median annual wage: $48,320
- Average hourly wage: $23.74
- Median hourly wage: $23.23

Photographers taking images of Manhattan at sunset from the water.
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Eileen_10 // Shutterstock

New York City

- Photographers in metro: 3,260
- Average annual wage: $62,730
- Median annual wage: $55,770
- Average hourly wage: $30.16
- Median hourly wage: $26.81

A person taking a photo of a "Love" sign in Philadelphia.
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Raymond Well // Shutterstock

Philadelphia

- Photographers in metro: 560
- Average annual wage: $47,050
- Median annual wage: $43,000
- Average hourly wage: $22.62
- Median hourly wage: $20.67

Two people sitting in a stone lookout while one of them photographs the view of Phoenix.
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Gregory E. Clifford // Shutterstock

Phoenix

- Photographers in metro: 690
- Average annual wage: $44,590
- Median annual wage: $32,920
- Average hourly wage: $21.44
- Median hourly wage: $15.83

A photographer walks in front of a wedding party on a San Francisco street.
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drserg // Shutterstock

San Francisco

- Photographers in metro: 770
- Average annual wage: $66,140
- Median annual wage: $59,100
- Average hourly wage: $31.80
- Median hourly wage: $28.41

A photographer takes images on a tripod over downtown.
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EB Adventure Photography // Shutterstock

Seattle

- Photographers in metro: 630
- Average annual wage: $65,810
- Median annual wage: $74,880
- Average hourly wage: $31.64
- Median hourly wage: $36.00

A photographer shines a light on a graduate in a cap and gown in a field of sunflowers.
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matthew Munsell // Shutterstock

St. Louis

- Photographers in metro: 300
- Average annual wage: $41,270
- Median annual wage: $36,640
- Average hourly wage: $19.84
- Median hourly wage: $17.61

A photography team setting up equipment among the palm trees.
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Yes I Shoot models // Shutterstock

Tampa

- Photographers in metro: 480
- Average annual wage: $38,020
- Median annual wage: $29,780
- Average hourly wage: $18.28
- Median hourly wage: $14.32

A wedding couple looking at photos on their photographer's camera among the cherry blossom trees.
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Malachi Jacobs // Shutterstock

Washington DC

- Photographers in metro: 650
- Average annual wage: $70,440
- Median annual wage: $60,720
- Average hourly wage: $33.86
- Median hourly wage: $29.19

This story originally appeared on Giggster and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

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