Photographers employed by private businesses have less volatile finances than those who are self-employed. Working full time as a commercial photographer, industrial photographer, or news photojournalist can provide a more stable income than freelancing. Photographers working for private businesses receive benefits that self-employed photographers must pay for themselves, such as the employer’s part of Social Security, health and disability insurance, and vacations.
Many photographers take jobs in private businesses after finishing photography school. They may work for advertising agencies, taking photos or videos for advertising campaigns. A commercial photographer usually works for a business, taking shots of buildings, merchandise, models, or company officials. These photographs are used in books, magazines, catalogs, or reports. Industrial photographers take similar photos of equipment, process, machinery, or products for company records, engineering reports, or publicity.
People in the news or sports photography fields are one of the biggest groups of photographers working for businesses. They may be sent on assignments to cover news, community happenings, or sports events. Most are employed by a newspaper or magazine, including online publications.
As a general rule, photographers working for private businesses make more money with less work time than those who are self-employed. They often receive overtime pay for working more than 40-hour weeks. The Newspaper Guild salary database listed monthly salaries for news photographers ranging from $685 to $1,777, depending on location. Commercial photographers make an average annual salary of about $50,000. Fashion photographers can make $50,000 and up to $100,000 annually for well-known photographers. Photographers working for advertising agencies typically make about $47,000 per year.
Because these photographers are working for companies and businesses, they have monetary advantages over the self-employed photographers. Those working in private industries have benefits that are at least partially paid for by their employers. They also have equipment and processing budgets, so they don’t have to provide their own cameras or processing, printing, and digital editing equipment.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that more companies may turn to freelance photographers instead of having staff photographers. If this happens, salary growth will slow, as will job growth. Photographers who keep their jobs in private businesses may be expected to handle more details outside of photography, such as layout, digital editing, and some writing. The decline of newspapers and magazines also could mean lower salaries and job growth for photographers. There are growing opportunities to sell photography online, but these sales are often less profitable than those for print media or television.