For people with a love of photography, working as a wedding photographer can be an ideal career. Wedding photographers can own their own businesses or work for wedding photography companies. Photographers who own their own businesses get to be their own boss and enjoy freedom and flexibility, but also additional responsibilities. The average salary of a wedding photographer varies depending on several factors.
In general, salaried wedding photographers earn on average $29,440. As the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states, as of 2008, salaried wedding photographers earned salaries of $16,920 at the low end up to $62,430 for the top 10 percent. For freelance photographers, because the amounts vary greatly from photographer to photographer, there are no concrete salary numbers. Current photographers at Photo.net estimate a freelance wedding photographer can earn anywhere from $25,000 a year to $70,000 a year.
Each wedding photographer’s salary may also differ because of the many varying outside costs. Photographers who own their own business must pay for start-up and general business costs. Additional costs can include equipment and supplies, insurance, travel, studio rent and other overhead costs, according to Fab Job. Wedding photographers who work for a company often have the benefit of a stable salaried income, according to A Digital Dreamer. Also, photographers who work for a company often do not have to pay for their overhead costs.
Where a wedding photographer works can also determine salary. Wedding photographers in major metropolitan areas can often charge more money per wedding and make more money in a year. Photographers in smaller markets may not make as much money but do not face as much competition from other photographers in the area.
Wedding photographers work long hours and during off times, like evenings and weekends, states the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some wedding photographers also do other types of portrait photography, since weddings are often on weekends. Many wedding photographers also process their own images, design photo albums, and mount and frame the finished photographs.
Besides a yearly salary, salaried wedding photographers can also receive health and life insurance benefits, retirement accounts and paid vacations. Freelance photographers can also have the same benefits, but must pay for them out of their overall earnings.