What type of photography pays the most?

Photography careers are critical to a wide range of industries, and they often require knowledge of modern imaging technology and traditional photographic equipment.

Today, there is a multitude of diverse careers in the field, from portrait photography to photojournalism. Each choice offers different opportunities and requires other skills, and some even offer enough compensation to make them viable full-time jobs. If you need advice on your wedding photography, check out our photography packages and services at Wild Romantic Photography.

Listed here are some of the highest paying photography jobs in the world:

  • Freelance Photographer
  • Fashion Photographer
  • Fine Art Photographer
  • Medical Photographer
  • Product Photographer
  • Film Set Photographer
  • White House Photographer
  • Wedding Photographer

Freelance Photographer

As a freelance photographer, you can be your boss rather than working on staff at a studio, publication or other company. There are opportunities for freelance photography careers in just about any industry, from news photography to event photography to fashion photography. Though it can be challenging to establish yourself in the business, the endless variety of assignments means you’ll never be bored.

Here’s something to think about: The highest paying photography job doesn’t exist. In the year 2000, we took 86 billion photos. In 2019, that number grew to more than 1.4 trillion. The exponential rise of digital technology has put all but the most dedicated and established film processing labs out of business and brought the power of technically advanced SLRs into the average consumer’s hands. Alas, photography was not just for professionals anymore.

What does all of this tell us? One way to work your way up the “best-paid photography jobs” list is to start your own photography business. Some of the most creative (and lucrative) photographs of the modern age were shot by freelancers, so as long as you have a camera and some extra gear, you’re sure to find a way to make money as a photographer. 

Success in this area is less about camera skills and a mix of strong business acumen and great sales experience. Ironically, avoidance of the latter is commonly what drives people to want a career in photography in the first place. Choosing the right wedding photographer in Melbourne to capture every moment on your wedding day.

How to Transition: 

There are many ways to earn money as an independent photographer. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of finding your forte—basically what you’ve been practising the longest for or are good at—and then looking for potential clients. You’ll probably need to build your portfolio first and then offer your services to people you know so you can make your confidence and increase your asking rate.

Pros: 

Freelancing allows you to be your boss (sort of), so you can take any photography assignment you like and get paid directly by the client.

Cons: 

Working for multiple clients can sometimes be a handful. Not working for a specific company can give you a pretty unstable income unless you become established and popular enough to get consistent bookings.

Ever wonder what types of freelance photography exist and how you can make money doing them?! Let’s break down your options!

The term freelance photography can be a bit intimidating! It means you’re on your own and have to keep your business afloat by being creative and aware of market trends. Here’s a list of types of freelance photography that can make you money.

Social Media Photography

What type of photography pays the most?

This is a BIG one, guys. BIG. If you’re on Facebook or Instagram, which I suspect you are, you’re bombarded by ads and thousands of images daily. That means businesses need to majorly step up their game if they want to stay relevant! When a company invests in its social media presence, customers often take them more seriously. IMAGES SELL. That’s where your freelance photography comes in! This new social media platform is growing exponentially, and businesses are starting to take notice.

Family/Portrait Photography

Portrait and family photography is probably the most common type of freelance photography. If this is your niche, it’s easy to get busy very quickly! This type of photography is always in demand as families grow and change over the year. Not to mention people love to share their photos online and hang them in their homes.

How to make money: Advertise locally on Facebook and Instagram. Tell all of your family and friends, and offer discounted or free sessions to get the ball rolling. This type of freelance photography relies HEAVILY on word of mouth, meaning you need to make the client experience a stellar one. This is why it’s always important to know what your client is experiencing! So get in front of the lens yourself on occasion.

Stock Image Photography

This may not be the most lucrative type of freelance photography, but you can make money off copyright-free photos that sites sell to people/companies.

How to make money: Depending on the site, you can get paid a flat rate each time your image is downloaded. This can range from a few cents to $1-2/per image. It’s probably not something that will support you full-time but can maybe increase your income by a few bucks a month.

Fashion Photographer

Being a fashion photographer is one of the most desirable jobs in the industry. Unknown to many, it involves more than just capturing high-fashion poses on the catwalk—one must also be prepared to take photos in virtually any location. 

The realm of freelance fashion photography can be tricky since it’s such a small niche with big industry names. If you’re inclined to love fashion, this can be a lifelong career.

Fashion photography can be very busy and rewarding. If you’re starting, offer your services to local boutiques around town. If they don’t have a budget for this, it’s time to get your negotiating skills to use! Trade services! Maybe for an hour of shooting, they can offer you a 50% discount on your next purchase (this can be pretty nice if you like to shop)! Keep working, keep finding models, and make sure to advertise your images on social media. You never know who’s looking at your work!

It’s a dream job for many photographers to be shooting for big magazines, fashion catalogues, and even billboards. Former Allure magazine photo editor Clio McNicholl told Fashion.net that she gets around 50 unsolicited portfolio submissions per month. After all, Allure has an extensive monthly circulation of almost 900,000, making it one of the most sought-after publications for aspiring and professional fashion photographers.

But like sports photography, professional fashion photography requires connections to other photographers, designers, and other high profile people in the industry, aside from needing a signature style and a strong portfolio. Wild Romantic Photography has the best range of services of wedding photography Yarra Valley. Check them out here.

How to Transition:

Focus on improving your qualifications and building your network. Consider moving to cities where there is a demand for fashion photographers and tapping friends or family who may connect to the industry.

Pros:

I am meeting creative people, travel opportunities, and creative freedom.

Cons: 

Highly competitive, and often not as glamorous as it looks.

Fine Art Photographer

Among the jobs on this list, doing fine art photography allows you to exercise your creativity the most. However, it also takes a lot of luck to become a successful fine art photographer.

A prolific fine art photographer Ted Forbes revealed that his fellow photographer, Peter Lik, has sold more than $500,000,000 worth of prints from his more than 15 galleries despite not being regarded as one of the best in the field. Stephan Brigidi, on the other hand, admitted to Pacific Standard that he had to take photography teaching jobs, commercial photography projects, book publishing, and even wait on tables for a short period to support his passion for fine art photography.

How to Transition: 

While aspiring fine art photographers will most likely have to hope and wait before getting their big break, having a degree in fine arts adds value to your credibility, provides you with the necessary technical skills to improve your work, and helps expand your network of fellow artists.

Pros: 

There’s always the fulfilment that comes with selling your first photo. And with the growing demand for fine art photography, there are more chances of appreciating your work and a more significant influence for growth as an artist.

Cons: 

Fine art involves featuring work that is not strictly commercial, so you’ll have to be persistent in trying to make a name for yourself as you pursue this career.

Medical Photographer

Much like any other medical field job, being a medical (or biomedical) photographer pays very well, but not before undergoing some serious training, acquiring high technical skill levels, and gaining detailed knowledge in scientific processes.

You may be tasked to document or photograph anything health-related, which usually includes surgical procedures and even autopsies. Other assignments involve digitising images, creating prints of statistical data on charts and graphs, and doing some photomicrography, sometimes for educational materials like pamphlets, textbooks, teaching models, instructional films, and exhibits. Your work may also be used as evidence in legal procedures.

How to Transition: 

Depending on the targeted position, formal photography studies (a full-blown degree) and medical training may be needed, on top of being detail-oriented and creative.

Pros:

It’s highly lucrative, plus it allows you to take part in the improvement of the medical field.

Cons: 

Aside from the often graphic content, there’s not much room for creative freedom.

Product Photographer

Although it may seem to be a trivial job, product photography can rake in a decent amount of cash depending on the project and the photographer’s experience. Clients also vary—from artisans and businesses to big-time advertising agencies—but they generally need professional-quality images of their products for promotional purposes.

The resulting images taken can directly affect sales, so companies must get an experienced product photographer. Whether you’re shooting food and beverage items, gadgets, cosmetics, furniture, and even industrial materials, it’s usually up to you to make them look as attractive and appealing as possible.

Many photographers in this fieldwork freelance work well for companies that prefer to hire multiple photographers with varying creative styles for different projects. Work hours can be as long as 40 hours per week, depending on the clients, the product, and the contract.

How to Transition: 

Photographers entering this field don’t necessarily require formal photography training, but they need to be very skilled and experienced in product photography. Knowledge in photo post-processing is also a significant plus. 

Pros: 

There’s a steady increase in clients and products that will need your services. 

Cons: 

You won’t always get to exercise your creativity as much as the other photography jobs here do.

Film Set Photographer

Known for his celebrity portraits and promo posters of prolific TV shows like Homeland and Californication, Los Angeles-based freelance photographer Patrick Ecclesine is one such person. A self-professed “gun for hire in Hollywood,” Ecclesine takes photos of actors on set to produce posters and promotional material for film and television. However, being a film set photographer is not all glitz, glamour, and six-figure salaries, Patrick admitted in an interview with Shutterbug.

You’d be forgiven for thinking all the $$$ you’re raking in from this work would ease the burden of a high-stress work environment. While it’s not the lowest paying photography job out there, it isn’t the highest paying either.

But before you turn up to your favourite director’s office with a portfolio, there is a significant number of hoops you’ll have to jump through first—more so compared to the majority of other photographic jobs out there.

How to Transition: 

There are three ways to qualify as a photographer on a film or television show.

Work and get paid for 100 days on a non-union show where you earn at least $50 a day;

Work on a non-union show that happens to go union;

Be “grandfathered in” by a producer or director who insists upon working with you, and you only.

Pros: 

Compensation can be very generous if you work long hours. 

Cons: 

It can be tough to get into, especially for beginners.

Wedding Photographer

What type of photography pays the most?

People are continually planning events! Between weddings, Christmas parties, Bar Mitzvahs, Christenings, corporate lunches, charity events, all the way to birthday parties and births! Specialising in event photography can open your networking possibilities as well. 

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Not many understand why wedding photographers do what they do, especially when it’s at the expense of a more stable career. After all, it doesn’t start paying all that well until word gets out about your experience, talent, and most of all, stunning images. That’s what happened to Alan Kirwin, who made a career shift to wedding photography despite already being successful in the computer industry and was once disappointed by his wedding photographer in 2002. 

Remember that you have to sit down and figure out what event photography is worth it. Let me tell you, it’s EXHAUSTING, and if you don’t price it appropriately, you’ll end up hating the thought of doing another event. Events tend to run over in time, people are often slightly more stressed out than usual, and the stakes are higher because you only have one shot at getting it right!

Like many wedding photographers, Kirwin worked with his current set of skills to his advantage, mainly marketing and computing, and aims to meet clients’ demand for more candid photos that captured the essence of their weddings. 

How to Transition: 

After earning a photography degree, the wisest route is to first apply as a second shooter to several weddings before dreaming of being a primary or only shooter. Being under the wing of a more experienced photographer while solving technical problems on the job will sharpen your skills and boost your confidence.

Pros:

With the increasing demand for priceless wedding photos, there are more opportunities to increase income.

Cons: 

High equipment and occasional space cost when you start venturing out on your own or shoot in studios.

Photojournalism

Photojournalism (also referred to as press photography) can be a cool way to spark a love for photography that can take you worldwide. This type of freelance photography centres around news and material print. It can range from international politics, documentary or street photography. It usually appears in newspapers and magazines. Some of the most well-known photojournalism was seen by war correspondents, like in Vietnam. 

How to make money: 

Publishing companies (newspapers, magazines, journals) can help gain work because they are often looking for image content. The key to photojournalism is to be persistent, targeting a specific audience or type of genre.

Product Photography

How many people have a product that they want to sell? A LOT. Marketing requires professional photos, and that’s where you come in!

Starting to think about hiring a wedding photographer? Check out our range of Mornington Peninsula wedding photography here.

How to make money: 

TALK! Ask around town, friends, family, and local businesses. Offer to take photos of local products and ask that they give you photo credit or pass out your business card. It’s fun to meet new people and collaborate on projects. Word of mouth can be like wildfire. Produce top-quality work and exceptional customer service, and they’ll call you for future endeavours.

Print Photography

Print photography is pretty straightforward when it comes to freelance photography. Could you take a picture and print it?

How to make money:  

Print your photos on high-quality material, and voila! Post them to your website, etsy.com, or ask that they be displayed in local stores! You never know who will connect and fall in love with your work! Heck, if you feel the desire, open up a gallery of your own. People love to decorate their homes with beautiful artwork!

Sports Photography

Photographing sports can be an enjoyable way to get your work out into the community. Whether you’re an amateur or a professional, sports work can be a dynamic type of freelance photography.

How to make money:  

If you’re a parent, offer to take official photos for the sports team. Parents love a great picture of their child to look back on. If you’re an avid fan, take your camera to college or professional games and see what comes. You may be able to sell your shots to the team or the school.

What Type of Photography Makes the Most Money?

You can trawl the Internet and read list after list of “The 10 Highest Paid Photographers” in search of an answer, but your efforts will always be in vain. None of this information ever mentions sums (or even sources, for that matter!). As we’ve seen, the most successful photographers among us are those who can sniff out and exploit the compelling array of opportunities made available with rapidly changing technologies daily. If you’d like to work with professional photographers for your wedding, book with us at Wild Romantic Photography.

Suppose you’ve trudged through the years of learning how to operate a camera, enduring constant criticism as you struggle to find your “vision,” and suffered inevitable rejection as you try to prove yourself worthy of a career that leads the charts in its severe shortage of job prospects. In that case, I’m willing to bet you didn’t get into photography for the money—and that’s okay. A true revolutionary of the photographic art form shouldn’t love the excessive living he can make from it, but rather, making a living from what he loves.