Bureau of Labor Statistics – Photographers

Have you ever gone to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and read about your job?  Makes you think.

Here is the link to Photographers.  But here are some B of L’s key statements:

“Photographers held about 152,000 jobs in 2008. More than half were self-employed, a much higher proportion than for most occupations.”

“Employment of photographers is expected to grow 12 percent over the 2008-18 period, about as fast as the average for all occupations.  Demand for portrait photographers should increase as the population grows.”

“Job growth, however, will be constrained somewhat by the widespread use of digital photography and the falling price of digital equipment. Improvements in digital technology reduce barriers of entry into this profession and allow more individual consumers and businesses to produce, store, and access photographic images on their own. News and commercial photographers may be the most adversely affected by this increase in amateur photographers and non-copyrighted photos.”

“Photographers can expect keen competition for job openings because the work is attractive to many people. The number of individuals interested in positions as commercial and news photographers is usually much greater than the number of openings. Salaried jobs in particular may be difficult to find as more companies contract with freelancers rather than hire their own photographers.”

“Median annual wages of salaried photographers were $29,440 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $20,620 and $43,530. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $16,920, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $62,430. Median annual wages in the photographic services industry, which employed the largest numbers of salaried photographers, were $26,160.”

“Those who succeed in landing a salaried job or attracting enough work to earn a living by freelancing are likely to be adept at operating a business and to be among the most creative. ”

“Photographers who operate their own business, or freelance, need business skills as well as talent.”

I really agree with a lot of their analysis.   Of course all these are nationwide statistics.  I think it must be hard to equate a small town portrait studio with advertising and fashion photographers in New York.   But lots of the points are very valid.  I remember, but cannot find a link to Photo District News article a few years back about incomes.  It was very different for New York photographers.  I think the median income for a New York advertising photographer was $115,00o.  Different markets, different methods for calculating income.  Very interesting!!

Michael Creagh



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