Being a Professional Photographer Sucks, Study Concludes


This might not come as much of a revelation to some of you, but a review of occupations in the United States reveals that being a professional photographer really stinks.

Between the pressures of the rise of smartphones, exploding equipment expenses, and the plague of that guy who knows someone with a camera, professional photographers are experiencing more pressure than most jobs out there.


In a list of the 25 worst jobs in the United States conducted by 24/7 Wall St., professional photography comes in at number 25 as one of the worst professions in the US.

How did 24/7 Wall St. arrive at this conclusion?

They reviewed data from CareerCast’s 2018 Jobs Rated Report and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that looked at everything from future job prospects to stability of income and the quality of the work environment.

To further drive home the report’s findings, there is also the much more indicative “expected decline” in the number of professional photographers between 2016 and 2026. The job is expected to shed some 5.6% of its positions while most jobs in the US will grow some 7% during the same period.

Interestingly, 24/7 Wall St. says that “Thanks to camera-equipped smartphones some aspects of photography are more accessible for non-professionals…Other photography jobs could be eliminated as companies choose to hire freelancers rather than keeping salaried photographers on their payrolls.”

And it isn’t like professional photographers are rolling in the dough already. 24/7 Wall St. also reports that the average professional photographer makes $USD 34,000. That’s a couple of grand under the median for all jobs in the US, which stands at $37,690 according to PetaPixel.

The question is: Does hiring freelance photographers not count as hiring a professional photographer?

That kind of implies that freelance photographers are not professional photographers or some variant of that. Depending on how you count freelance photographers, photography may or may not experience a decline in numbers.

What do you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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About Author


Kehl is our staff photography news writer and has over a decade of experience in online media and publishing and you can get to know him better here

Yep. I took a risk and switched careers thinking that it would pay off one day. In many ways, I regret making such a drastic career switch in an industry that’s constantly being turned over to the average joe. I’ve since sold all of my equipment.

The shift to using freelancers may not reduce the numbers, but it will likely further reduce the average income.

It was the same in the 2005 boom for Realtors. Tons of people ran out and got licensed to sell homes…and then all of them stopped selling…with the exception of the people who were actual Realtors. The people who are actual artists will stay “photographers” regardless of the wave. Yes, the market sucks currently. It will come back.

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