How much photographers get paid in 20 major metros

Giggster analyzed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to determine the average wage of photographers in 20 major metropolitan areas.

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A photographer standing on ice trying to catch a photo of the sunrise over downtown Chicago.

Scott Olson // Getty Images

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.

Atlanta

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

cendhika // Shutterstock

- 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

Boston

A person holding a camera on a boat with an American flag in the background.

Roman Babakin // Shutterstock

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

Chicago

A person photographing a couple in wedding attire in front of a sculpture in downtown Chicago.

Anne Richard // Shutterstock

- 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

Cincinnati

A view of downtown with a photographer taking pictures of two people in the foreground.

Anne Kitzman // Shutterstock

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

Dallas-Fort Worth

A person taking a photograph of downtown Dallas with a tripod on the edge of water.

Nat Chittamai // Shutterstock

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

Denver

A person taking images of a botanical garden.

Page Light Studios // Shutterstock

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

Detroit

The Detroit skyline at sunset.

Canva

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

Houston

Downtown Houston buildings at sunset.

Canva

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

Las Vegas

A photographer snaps a photo of a family from their car.

Ethan Miller // Getty Images

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

Los Angeles

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

Kit Leong // Shutterstock

- 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

Miami

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

Jan Schneckenhaus // Shutterstock

- 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

Minneapolis-St. Paul

Photographers set up to shoot the Minneapolis skylie at twilight.

Sam Wagner // Shutterstock

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

New York City

Photographers taking images of Manhattan at sunset from the water.

Eileen_10 // Shutterstock

- 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

Philadelphia

A person taking a photo of a "Love" sign in Philadelphia.

Raymond Well // Shutterstock

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

Phoenix

Two people sitting in a stone lookout while one of them photographs the view of Phoenix.

Gregory E. Clifford // Shutterstock

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

San Francisco

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

drserg // Shutterstock

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

Seattle

A photographer takes images on a tripod over downtown.

EB Adventure Photography // Shutterstock

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

St. Louis

A photographer shines a light on a graduate in a cap and gown in a field of sunflowers.

matthew Munsell // Shutterstock

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

Tampa

A photography team setting up equipment among the palm trees.

Yes I Shoot models // Shutterstock

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

Washington DC

A wedding couple looking at photos on their photographer

Malachi Jacobs // Shutterstock

- 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.