How Much Do Fashion Photographers Really Earn?

how much money do fashion photographers make

The Perks of Being A Fashion Photographer

“As a world-renowned fashion photographer, let me tell you, there are few careers as rewarding and fulfilling as this one. The creative freedom, the opportunity to work with beautiful models, and the chance to travel to stunning locations make it an incredible experience,” added Louis Lavigne, a dear client, and highly successful fashion photographer.

Fashion Photography

Here’s a quick rundown of the perks of being a fashion photographer –

Creativity Unleashed: Being a fashion photographer gives you the platform to express your artistic vision, push the boundaries of creativity, and bring your unique ideas to life.

Model Magic: Working with models is a dream come true for many photographers, and fashion photography gives you a chance to do just that. Creating stunning images with gorgeous models is what this career is all about.

Jetset Life: Fashion photography often takes you to the most incredible locations, from the bustling streets of Paris to the tropical beaches of the Caribbean. Traveling and experiencing new cultures is a huge perk of this career.

Networking at its finest: Being a part of the fashion industry provides an unparalleled opportunity to network with the business’s most talented and influential people. You’ll make connections that will last a lifetime.

Financial Freedom: Let’s be honest, money talks. And being a successful fashion photographer can be highly lucrative. The sky’s the limit if you have the talent and the drive.

Fame and Glory: Your work will be seen by millions of people, and the recognition of being a top fashion photographer is simply unmatched. The exposure and acclaim you receive for your work can open doors you never thought possible.

Is It Financially Gratifying?

Fashion Photographers make money from editorials, lookbooks, campaigns, catalog shoots, and portfolio shoots. As of Jan 9, 2023, the average annual pay for a Fashion Photographer in the United States is $55,485 yearly.

Financially Gratifying

An average fashion photographer in the US makes around $48,827 every year with an average bonus of $611, representing 1% of their salary. Fashion photographers have to be in a contract with companies and agencies to be able to get a fixed salary, including other occupational benefits.

The payscale for fashion photography gigs depends on the banner under which the photographers are hired and their experience in similar projects. With time and experience, fashion photographers can gain credibility in the market to ask for higher charges for these gigs.

Generally, in the US, fashion photographers’ salaries range from $10,289 to $247,376, with a median salary of $44,689. Their agent negotiates fees, and they ensure the client has a project that would be interesting to the photographer and compatible with their look and creative nature. The total cost of a campaign similar to this scale would cost USD 500k and more.

What About Tax?

According to SalaryExpert, an entry-level fashion photographer (1-3 years of experience) earns an average salary of $32,288, whereas a senior-level fashion photographer (8+ years of experience) earns an average salary of $51,704.

In 2018, an individual filer in this tax bracket would have estimated an average federal tax of 22%. However, after the federal tax rate of 22% has been taken out, fashion photographers could expect to have a take-home pay of $42,145/year, with each paycheck equaling approximately $1,756.

Fashion Photographers take a big part of your money, around 40% to 60% depending on the country. Luckily, some taxes are exempted from the purchase of photography pieces of equipment.

Fashion Photographer

Along with the taxes, fashion photographers need to clear bills and fees in the mentioned areas:

  • Property and sales tax fees
  • Limited liability company (LLC) or corporate filing fees
  • Cost of local business permits
  • Dues paid to professional associations/ outsourcing fees
  • Professional certifications
  • Copyright fees
  • Professional or trade license fees

Many of these fees and purchases are necessary and can take up a good portion of a photographer’s overhead budget.

Hence, you should always make responsible purchases based on your business plan and level of revenue, you should also know that many of these investments are tax-deductible.

Which Cities Pay Highest to Fashion Photographers?

Here are ten identified cities where the payment for a fashion photographer is above the national average.

New York City, NY is on the top list, with San Mateo, CA, and Daly City, CA, close behind in the second and third positions.

Daly City, CA beats the national average by $6,060 (10.9%), and New York City, NY furthers that trend with another $9,103 (16.4%) above the $55,485 average.

The average salary for these top 10 cities may vary by 6% between New York City, NY, Santa Monica, and CA, proving the limited potential for wage advancement in fashion photography.

What’s More Important than Skills?

An aspiring fashion photographer will require the ability to collaborate with a wide range of people who all play their part in the project.

There’s the client; the client’s designer, the layout artist, the makeup, hair, and clothing stylists, the models, photo assistants, digital post processors, an art director, and often an advertising or digital marketing agency involved in building a theme together.

Fashion photographers’ pay scale varies widely depending on factors like education, certifications, additional skills, the number of years they have spent in their profession, and the reputation of the brands they have collaborated with.

How to Keep Things Interesting?

Working on fashion photography means filling your work schedule with different kinds of people, in a variety of shoots in different places and locations. The day rates of the photographers will depend on the value and costs of the brands.

Fashion Photography

Top-tier photographers have compensated matching skills and demand in work, whereby mid-level fashion photographers slowly work their way up from portrait photography to reach the desired payscale.

As of Jan 25, 2023, the average annual pay for a Fashion Photographer in Los Angeles is $55,425 a year. In a simple salary calculator, that is approximately $26.65 an hour. This is the equivalent of $1,065/week or $4,618/month.

As a photographer, you must first prove your photographic integrity by submitting your photos to different forums and competitions to get into renowned fashion events and projects that bring attention to your work.
In addition, aspiring photographers must also strive to be a part of the many events that can highlight their work and enrich their portfolio.

Dropping your portfolio to different platforms, exhibitions, and competitions would boost your business and get offers from clients in an organic manner.

What Else Can Fashion Photographers Do?

Upon research, we found other professions in a similar category that gets paid more than fashion photographers, such as photography producer, travel photographer, and unit photographer.

These jobs pay between $26,834 (48.4%) and $31,513 (56.8%) more than the average fashion photographer’s salary of $55,485.

Getting a degree in commercial photography broadens the scope of your work to include all forms of commercial photography, not just limiting you to fashion. Once you have a few years of experience and a decorated portfolio to offer to clients and brands, you will start receiving shoots that will give you opportunities to shine.

Cultivate cooperative relationships with consumers of fashion photography, and specialize in your desired genre to highlight your unique selling point.

What Did We Learn?

The digital revolution has unleashed a wave of innovations, changed the business landscape, and transformed overall human social behavior.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment in photography is projected to decline by 6% from 2016 to 2026. The mean annual wage for photographers in the U.S. is $42,770. Unfortunately, that is still less than the current national mean annual wage of $51,960 for all occupations around the US.

Fashion photographers have to use their innovation and business acumen to slowly increase the monetary value of their creative worth and increase their overall salary for a rewardful experience in the career of photography.

Tazim Ul Mulk

Tazim Ul Mulk

As a fervent writer and an enthusiast in the beauty of imagery, I wish to show the world the true meaning behind each image.