Photographer Income Survey Results

Posted on 11/6/2018 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

We have closed the Editorial Photographer Income Survey that was sent out at the end of August. There were 270 responses which is somewhat disappointing considering the tens of thousands of photographers producing stock images today.

Of those who responded 39% were from North America, 49% were from the EU and 12% from Asia and the rest of the world. Fifty-two percent of those from the EU were from the United Kingdom which is not too surprising given the high concentration of the Western European photographers work there, but it would have been nice to have better representation from the other EU countries.

Last week I published a breakdown of how I believe gross worldwide revenue breaks down by region.

United States 33%
Canada 4%
South & Central America 6%
Europe 42%
Middle East & Africa 2%
Asia 10%
Australia & New Zealand 3%

Based on these figure the number of respondents from North America seems about right; the number from Europe is high and the number from Asia and the rest of the world is low.

Country


Not all respondents reported their home country. The breakdown of respondents by country is as follows:

Country Staff Male Female
Other   1  
Australia & New Zealand   4 3
Other Asia 1 10 1
India   2  
Japan   1  
Africa   1  
Middle East   4  
Eastern Europe & Russia 1 8 1
Other EU 1 23 2
Italy   4 1
Spain   5  
Germany   5 1
France 1 10 1
United Kingdom 1 60 7
South Amerida & Mexico   4 1
North America 13 84 23
       
  18 226 41

Age And Income


About 94% of respondents answered the age question. Of those who did 64% were over the age of 50, and 5% were under the age of 30.

Of those 50 and over, 65% had gross photography earnings of less than $20,000 a year and 42% had gross earnings of less than $10,000. Keep in mind that these creators had expenses so the earnings are not all profit.

For contributors under the age of 50 it is interesting that 65% of this group also earned less than $20,000 a year, but 47% of them earned less than $10,000.

When we get to those who earned more than $100,000 a year, 7 were over 50 and 9 were under 50. Thus, 5% of total respondents earned over $100,000. Of all the respondents 14% earned over $60,000 a year.

Of the North American photographers 54% earned less than $20,000 a year. This compares to 75% of those in the EU and 72% from Asia and Eastern Europe that also earned less than $20,000. When it comes to the higher earnings 11.2% of those in North America earned more than $100,000, while only 2.5% of those in the EU and none in Asia and Eastern Europe earned over $100,000.

North American Earnings Under 20 20 to 30 30 to 40 40 to 50 Over 50  Total
$0 to $10,000   1 2 4 26 33
$10,000 to $20,000   2 1 3 18 24
$20,000 to $40,000   1 3 2 12 18
$40,000 to $60,000     2 1 4 7
$60,000 to $80,000   1     7 8
$80,000 to $100,000       1 3 4
over $100,000     3   4 7
            0
  0 5 11 11 74 101
  0.0% 5.0% 10.9% 10.9% 73.3%  
             
European Union Earnings Under 20 20 to 30 30 to 40 40 to 50 Over 50 Total
$0 to $10,000 1 2 14 7 38 62
$10,000 to $20,000   1 3 5 18 27
$20,000 to $40,000     1 4 8 13
$40,000 to $60,000       3 7 10
$60,000 to $80,000         2 2
$80,000 to $100,000         2 2
over $100,000         3 3
             
  1 3 18 19 78 119
  0.8% 2.5% 15.1% 16% 65.5%  
             
Asia & Eastern Europe Under 20 20 to 30 30 to 40 40 to 50 Over 50 Total
$0 to $10,000   3 6 4 8 21
$10,000 to $20,000   1 3   1 5
$20,000 to $40,000         2 2
$40,000 to $60,000         1 1
$60,000 to $80,000     3 2   5
$80,000 to $100,000       1 1 2
over $100,000           0
             
  0 4 12 7 13 36
  0.0% 11.1% 33.3% 19.4% 36.1%  

If we look at those who earn more than $60,000 a year 24 were from North American, 7 from the EU and 7 from Asia and Eastern Europe.

Six percent of respondents were staff photographers and 94% were freelancers. Of the 17 staff photographers 12 worked in North America, 3 in the EU and 2 in Asia and Eastern Europe.

North American Earnings Staff Male Female Total Percent
$0 to $10,000   24 9 33 30.8%
$10,000 to $20,000 1 18 7 25 23,4%
$20,000 to $40,000 5 18   18 16.8%
$40,000 to $60,000 1 4 3 7 6.5%
$60,000 to $80,000 4 7 1 8 7.5%
$80,000 to $100,000 1 4   4 3.7%
over $100,000   9 3 12 11.2%
           
  12 84 23 107  
           
European Union Earnings Staff Male Female Total Percent
$0 to $10,000 1 55 7 62 52.1%
$10,000 to $20,000   23 4 27 22.7%
$20,000 to $40,000   12 1 13 10.9%
$40,000 to $60,000 1 10   10 8.4%
$60,000 to $80,000   2   2 1.7%
$80,000 to $100,000   2   2 1.7%
over $100,000 1 3   3 2.5%
           
  3 107 12 119  
           
Asia & Eastern Europe Staff Male Female Total Percent
$0 to $10,000 1 19 2 21 58.3%
$10,000 to $20,000   3 2 5 13.9%
$20,000 to $40,000   2   2 5.6%
$40,000 to $60,000     1 1 2.8%
$60,000 to $80,000   5   5 13.9%
$80,000 to $100,000 1 2   2 5.6%
over $100,000         0.0%
           
  2 31 5 36  

I should note here that these results are probably not representative of the photographer community as a whole. Overall I would expect the earnings of EU photographers to be much closer to those of North American photographers. The earnings of Asian and Eastern European photographers might be lower generally because they are somewhat limited in being able to produce the kind of imagery that is in demand in Western Europe and North American which clearly represents 75% of the market. In addition, the prices paid for imagery in the local Asian and Eastern European markets tend not to be as high as in the EU and NA.

Editorial


One of the goals of the survey was to determine the proportion of each photographer’s earning that comes from Editorial sales compared to more Commercial Work. Of all photographers reporting 31% said that 70% or more of their income came from Editorial sales. Of the contributors from North America 34% were in the 70% or more range, 31% from the EU and only 17% from the Asia and Eastern Europe Region.

Another 31% of respondents said that less than 20% of their work was Editorial. The breakdown for this group was 34% from North America, 27% from the EU and 35% from Asia and Eastern Europe.

North American Earnings Total Staff Male Female
0 to 10% 27 6 18 9
10 to 20% 10 2 9 1
20 to 30% 2   2  
30 to 40% 7   6 1
40 to 50% 4   4  
50 to 60% 6   4 2
60 to 70% 4   4  
70 to 80% 12   9 3
80 to 90% 8 3 6 2
90 to 100% 17 3 13 4
Not Sure 10 1 9 1
         
  107 15 84 23
         
European Union Earnings Total Staff Male Female
0 to 10% 25   23 2
10 to 20% 10   10  
20 to 30% 2   2  
30 to 40% 7   7  
40 to 50% 5 1 5  
50 to 60% 7   7  
60 to 70% 4   2 2
70 to 80% 11 1 9 2
80 to 90% 10   10  
90 to 100% 19 2 18 1
Not Sure 27   21 6
         
  127 4 114 13
         
Asia & Eastern Europe Total Staff Male Female
0 to 10% 8   6 2
10 to 20% 2   1 1
20 to 30% 2   2  
30 to 40%        
40 to 50%        
50 to 60% 1   1  
60 to 70% 2   2  
70 to 80% 2   2  
80 to 90% 1   1  
90 to 100% 2 1 1 1
Not Sure 8   8  
         
  28 1 24 4
         
South & Central America Total Staff Male Female
0 to 10% 1   1  
90 to 100% 1   1  
Not Sure 3   2 1
         
  5 0 4 1

Other Questions


We also asked, “Of your total photography income, do you do other types of shoots such as: weddings, individual portraits, public relations, entertainment, travel, advertising, general stock, etc.?”  Sixty-six percent answered “Yes” to this question. The breakdown was 75% in North America, 57% in the EU and 67% in Asia and Eastern Europe.

In addition, we asked, “Do you have another means of financial support that supplements your photography income? (This could include the work of a spouse who earns income to support a family unit.) “ Seventy-six percent answered “Yes.”  The breakdown was 75% for North America, 76% for the EU and 67% for Asia and Eastern Europe.

Clearly, the business of stock photography has become more of a part-time, supplementary source of income and no longer a viable career.


Copyright © 2018 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-251-0720, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of www.selling-stock.com, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  

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