Survey Reveals the Average Day Rates of US and UK Photographers


Eposure, a UK company that brings commercial photographers together with the companies that need them, recently released the results of a survey they conducted about the day rates of UK and U.S.-based photographers. And even though some might expect that the vast majority are charging a pittance in our photography-saturated world, the outlook isn’t as grim as you may think.

According to the survey data, the majority of US-based commercial photographers are charging $900 or more per day. On the other side of the Atlantic, the majority of UK photographers are charging between 300 and 700 pounds per day (between $460 and $1100 USD). Here are those charts:



More revealing than the initial results, however, are the followup charts (also by Eposure) that compare these rates with the rates photogs were charging five years ago. It turns out rates haven’t decreased across the board — what Eposure calls “the general perception.”

The charts show that the market, rather than shifting downward in price, has simply become less tolerant of certain price ranges. In the US, far more photographers were charging between $700 and $800 five years ago, but far fewer were charging between $1,250 and $1,500.

The UK numbers on the other hand, show that prices have (in general) gone up. Fewer photogs are charging between 100 and 300 pounds, and many more fall into the 1,500-2,000 and 2,000+ categories. As Eposure points out, there are many conclusions as to what these numbers mean. Here are those charts so you can draw your own:



Of course, whenever survey results are presented, we like to remember the words of Mark Twain: “There are lies, damned lies and statistics.” In other words: take everything with a grain of salt. Important numbers such as how many days photographers are working on average aren’t mentioned ($900 per day is no good if you’re only working one day per month), and the survey obviously can’t get an accurate portrait of all photographers.

That being said, it’s nice to see that the photography market isn’t as bleak as some studies have made it seem recently.

(via PhotoShelter)

Image credit: Money by 401(K) 2013

  • Roscoe Ellington

    Sorry but as a professional photog with 18 years of experience, based in US I’m having a real difficulty to believe these stats.

    The pay has gone down considerably, so much so that of about dozen pro photog colleagues of mine only 3 are still “in the game”, others had been pushed into different other ventures and business due to falling profits margins and profits. My pay rate has gone down over 40% during tha last 3 years and is still steadily declining.

    Not sure where you pulled those stats from…sorry :-(

  • JakeB

    Roscoe, I’m pretty much in the same boat as you, just about to hang the camera on the wall for good. It’s far worse for the pro photographer these days, and I and most of the members of PPA I keep in touch with are about to call it quits.

    It’s a little easier if you’re single, with a family to keep warm and fed from the proceeds of your photography engagements, it’s nearly impossible these days.

  • Carmela Chatswood

    I agree with everything Roscoe and JakeB stated, definitely not good times for us pro photographers who used to make a living out of our work. :-(

  • selina maitreya

    Day rates?Why are these figures based on Day rates? Since the 1978 c law was passed here in the U.S, project rates are quoted, which include the licensing fees.
    If this study is based on “day rates” as it refers to it has little to no relevance.

  • Seth Roach

    Not sure where are you going with this selina, I have been in photo business for over 20 years and pretty much worked and got engaged on ‘day rates’, even in the good old days.

    Not sure how is this hard to understand?

  • Deb Lazarus

    Me too. Hardly ever worked on project rates, mostly daily and weekly rates.

  • Micah

    Survey – shmurvey…this is so far from the truth it’s not funny…

    Get your facts right, please.

  • mike finley

    there’s another missing item – how the total number of photographers has changed – if there are fifty percent fewer professional photographers now, that would be more significant than the shift in percentages in different bands

  • Swade

    Sorry, but it sounds like you need to be a pro businessman more than a pro photographer. Being business savvy is almost more important than your actual pictures. It is assumed you can take pictures if your are a professional photographer, but that doesn’t mean your business practices are good. It also depends on how this stat is broken down in terms of type of photography.

  • Brian Powell

    Key words ‘used to’. If you’re not getting better all the time and adapting to modern times, what do you expect? It’s a great time for me; I quit my day job a year ago after about 10 years of part time, and support a family of four doing this full time now — and there are plenty more of us that get tired of reading all the bellyaching.

    No, I actually do everything professionally, pay 7 different kinds of taxes, pay my CPA, pay assistants, have insurance, etc., and don’t just sling a Rebel around calling myself a ‘pro’. The boogeyman ‘guy with camera’ who is stealing your career but isn’t really legit? That’s a figment of many imaginations!

  • Duke Shin

    “I am depressed … without phone … money for rent … money for child support … money for debts … money!!! … I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings and corpses and anger and pain … of starving or wounded children, of trigger-happy madmen, often police, of killer executioners … I have gone to join Ken if I am that lucky.”

    -Kevin Carter, photojournalist

  • Heath

    Ken Rockwell? Why would that be lucky?

  • Len Power

    There’s really not much to add or respond to your arrogant post.
    And giving yourself a thumbs up on your own post is low, for a lack of a better word.

    Calling you a boogeyman would be an understatement.

  • genotypewriter


    The guy’s head is so up his backside he can even tell how much up it really is.

  • Carmela Chatswood

    Thanks for such an “insightful” post Brian, you must be very lucky person then. Either that or you’re so up yourself that you couldn’t restrain yourself from posting how “rosy and beautiful’ is in the pro photog world for the magnificent people like you that are “moving with the times”

    We all moved with the times my dear Brian, as you stated that’s the only way currently to be able to ensure survival in this industry.

    Back to your post, apart from bragging and being unkind to others, what exactly is your point and what were you trying to say? Oh, I see – nothing really.

  • Kelvin Brace

    Just ignore him, Carmela, I wonder with the attitude like his that he gets any work at all.

    Arrogant photogs are on the way out, and while he boasts how wonderful he is and how he makes a lot of money, people like this guy have limited shelf life in the times to come. Just ask him in a year or so how’s he doing…I’d love to be able to hear his response then.

  • Ron S

    Is that a thumbs-up you’ve giben it to your own post?

    What a d!ck…

  • pizza joe

    Good old Kenny is not that bad…sometimes over the top with his statements but not bad in general. Many a beginners learned a thing or two from him sometime…

  • chphotovideo

    I think people are under the impression they are hiring you for x amount a day to work for them. Not that they are contracting you for a product which they have to license. I hear it over and over as a photographer when people say “no he hired you, we own the work” or as many other ‘bullying’ business’s try to use saying it was a ‘work made for hire’.

  • 9inchnail

    “The boogeyman ‘guy with camera’ who is stealing your career but isn’t really legit? That’s a figment of many imaginations!”

    I don’t think so. I’m not a professional but I have been asked to take photos of people. They saw my stuff online and wanted to hire me. I reclined since it’s just a hobby and I don’t want to go through a lot of hassle with taxes just because I shoot some photos once in a while. But I am a guy with a Rebel who potentially could have stolen contracts from pros. To make it clear, every pro would propably take much better photos than me but many people are not willing to pay 1000 bucks for one day of work and try to get it cheaper. You find an abundance of good amateurs via sites like 500px. That has to hurt business.

  • Joes

    I call BS.

    There is no mention of the NUMBER of pro photographers and how that number is declining.

    We could show a graph of how “film prices have increased” over the years, but it’s not because they are in high demand, it’s because there are fewer producers of film.

    In Pro Photography, yes you have to be creative, business-savvy and all, but nowadays you HAVE to produce a service that “Uncle Bob with a camera” or “hobby photographer with an entry-level DSLR” can’t produce.

  • BoJo

    Not sure how this can be seen to show that the photography market isn’t as bleak as some reports suggest. In most cases the charts show only an increase of a couple of percent or so in people charging a rate. Hopefully those are at least due to adjustment of rates to take into account inflation etc but in many cases photographers are charging the same now as they did 5 years ago. In other words whilst the actual figure is about the same in real terms it is less in relation to other expenses than it was 5 years ago.

    I wonder how many of those commissioning our work haven’t put their rates up by more than a couple of percent in that time. I would guess very few.

    There are also a couple of details that are missing at least from the above article.

    Firstly, the field of photography. Even Editorial / Commercial breakdown may help some plan their pricing structure better. In the least we would be able to see which are the better and growth areas of photography to consider working in.

    Add in the location of the photographer (major city or out in the sticks) with all the differing costs of living used to calculate each photographers CoB and, that the US chart appears to be referring to dollar amounts and the UK one refers to pound amount so making direct comparisons difficult, then the real usefulness of this research becomes less.

  • O’s

    He’s referring to Ken Oosterbroek.

  • ATrapAtNoon

    You’re pretty mistaken on who the clients of professional photographers are if you think you have the potential to steal them just because someone asked you once…

    That’s like saying that just because you built a running automobile in your garage and someone said, “Hey, I like that – how much?” that you’re somehow going to take business from Porsche, Lexus, and McLaren… You may give KIA a run for their money, though, and there’s certainly a demographic for that.

  • Heath

    Yeah, I got it. Just rustling a few jimmies.

  • Chris

    This shouldn’t be an issue if the contract is done correctly before any work is performed.

  • Chris

    I hate seeing people try to average out photographer pay scales. It’s really crazy, there’s just too much variation between barely making it and major success. I’d rather see a chart that breaks down income and the percentage of artists actually pulling those numbers per year. That would be WAY more informative than trying to average out the $300 a day low end with the $5000 a day campaign day rate. I’m sure only small fraction pull in the larger numbers.

  • chphotovideo

    It’s been an issues I’ve faced a couple times. They assume they own all rights to my images because they paid me to be there and shoot. Even though there was nothing in the contract about ‘work for hire’.

  • DafOwen

    Oh yes – Day rates without mentioning sector, travel, post work included, etc – most useful.

  • Duke Shin

    back to /p/ with ye, yon trole.

  • Guest

    These stats are just not factual. The commercial photographers in my Mid West US medium market city mostly all charge well beyond $2000 day rate… in addition to licensing fees on top of that. The ones who are under $2000 day rate are borderline hacks and generally don’t get the bids if they’re even that well connected to be asked. So with day rate and licensing the average per day of shooting for me is around 8-15K depending on the scope of usage, number of shots, etc. 8-15k for an absolutely average shoot. Folks who say the photography market is dying or that they can’t support themselves any longer with it are just not producing shoots for the right people… or are probably pseudo hacks.

  • Ash Haber

    From the looks of all the comments on this thread none of you are working at very high caliber? In the ad world my day rate isn’t even worth talking about. World Wide usage for 1 year (ad’s, POP, web, catalog etc ) is about $1500-$4000 an image . The last client used 30 images . So that’s $45,000 just in usage plus 2 days of expenses, day rate etc….. I only need a few of these jobs a year to support my whole family. Who cares what to the average photographer is doing. We don’t do anything to be part of the mediocrity ….. if you are ya have fun with your $1000 day rate. I won’t pull my gear out for $1000 even if it’s an hour shoot unless it’s for something personally inspiring. It takes so much to produce the kind of work that will take you far that it’s more of a risk to do those kind of jobs your talking about here than anything else. You shouldn’t be ( at least i shouldn’t be ) shooting more than a few times a month if your getting great jobs. Keep yourself in demand, healthy, educated and inspired . Marketing and developing new ways to connect your photography business can’t be neglected either so that requires a team as well if you are to be at the top and you have to run that team. It’s only getting better from where i’m sitting. Good luck.