Photogs Reveal the Best Publications to Work for, and How Much They Pay

The Columbia Journalism Review recently surveyed 30 veteran freelance photojournalists to find out what publications treat photographers best, and how much they pay. What they found is revealing, maybe even encouraging, and definitely useful information for the photogs out there.

You can review their complete ‘findings’ at this link, but the most important thing to note is the “who” and the “how much.”


After talking to the photojournalists, 6 publications made CJR’s “best outlets to pitch”: The Washington Post, Harper’s Magazine, National Geographic, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. These are the outlets that freelancers claim offer the best combination of pay, great editors, and respect for photography and photographers.

Of course, great editors and respect for photography don’t add up to much if you can’t pay your bills, which bring us to rates.

How Much

According to CJR, your best chance of keeping the lights on comes from CNN; they pay freelancers a $650 day rate plus $150 for post-production editing. Coming in 2nd and 3rd are Harper’s and Nat Geo, whose day rates start at $500 and go up from there. Harper’s will pay up to $1,000 per day if you’re in a conflict zone, and Nat Geo‘s day rates increase to $650 and beyond depending on circumstances.

With their recently-increased day rate of $450, the New York Times comes in 4th, followed by the Wall Street Journal in 5th with a day rate of $400, and the Washington Post last with a day rate of just $350.


Of course, pay is just one dimension. Freelancers told CJR about their relationships with editors, how the publications treat photographers, why it’s worth trading pay for big name recognition and editorial quality, and so on. If you’re remotely interested in being a professional photojournalist, definitely head over to CJR and read the full article.

Image credits: CNN Center by red, white, and black eyes forever