How Much Photographers Earn: Jim Pickerell’s Survey Results are Here


Around two months ago we reported that Selling-Stock’s author Jim Pickerell had an open survey for photographers — especially those active in the editorial segment– to anonymously share their earning stats and help the community as a whole know more about the current state of the photography business.

Such survey closed at the end of October, and now the results are out! While they align with the assumptions and predictions Pickerell and other insiders –and stock photo contributors– could have made, it’s still interesting to have the cold numbers to back them up.

Read ahead for a quick roundup on how much photographers are earning from their stock photo business! If you want to start selling your photos as stock, do check out our guide to make $500 a month with stock photography!

The Final Sample: Not a Full Spectrum

Before we dive into the results, we have to note that the final number of responses to the survey –to which we invited you to take part back in September– was of only 270.

While the photographers' community surely appreciates those who took the few minutes to complete the questionary, it can’t be denied that the number of participants was too low as for it to fully represent the arch of artists selling photos in the stock media industry, which ascends to tens of thousands. So the conclusions drawn albeit useful, are not as in-depth as they could be.

Photogs Income Survey: Quick Results Roundup

Here’s a very brief overview at the stats Jim elaborated on the results to his survey. For detailed statistics, that include graphics and analysis, please read Jim Pickerell’s Photographer Income Survey Results post.

The study focused on the editorial photography market but accepted participants from all segments, even those who do little to none editorial work, so we’ll begin with the activity breakdown and walk through:

  • Editorial photography: 31% of participants declared editorial makes up for 70% or more of their income. Another 31% said that less than 20% of their earnings come from editorial work
  • Other photography segments: 66% of photogs said they are involved in other commercial photography activities (wedding, portraits, PR, general stock, etc.)
  • Other incomes: 76% of responders have other sources of income aside of photography, be it by themselves or through someone else like their spouse for example
  • Age: Only 94% of all survey responses indicated their age. Of those, 64% were over 50 years old and only 5% was under 30. Males were also a majority.
  • Region: The sample is made of 39% North America based photogs, 49% from the EU, and 12% from Asia and the rest of the world.
  • Earnings: Only 5% of all photographers submitting earn more than $100K a year from stock photography. A 14% of them earned over $60K. 65% of the total makes less than $60K.
  • Earnings by region: 54% of North American participants make less than $20K annually, and 11.2% of them have incomes of over $100K – For EU members it’s a 75% making $20K or less and only 2.5% earning more than $100K – In Asia and Eastern Europe, those earning $20K max represent 72% and again just 2.5% of them make more than $100K a year

So How Much Photographers Earn? Quick Conclusions

From this limited sample and Pickerell’s analysis, a few conclusions can be drawn right away:

Part-Time Business: It’s clear stock photography is no longer seen as a career path, but a secondary revenue stream

Occidental-dominated Market: North America and the EU have not only more contributors but also overall higher incomes than the rest of the world

Pool of Mid to Low Earners: In all regions, the majority of contributors declare to be making fairly little money from this activity, and a considerable amount make just enough

Middle-Age Players Ruling: Those making the most out of their stock photography contributions and seeing important incomes are in their 50s or older

Use Photogs Income Stats to your Favour

As the author of the survey and further analysis states in his Photographers Income Survey report, this ends up not being as precise conclusions as one would desire given the low number of participants in relation with the estimated size of the contributor community.

But are certainly interesting stats to compare to your own experience and consider when it comes to planning your stock photo business strategy ahead of the new year! If you feel like giving the stock photo industry a shot, then our tips to make $500/month with stock photography is a must read!

What do you think of these results? Do you have other conclusions to add? Let us know!


About Author

I write about the stock photo and microstock industry since 2006 on my several online-magazines. My goal for MyStockPhoto is to teach photographers and stock photographers how to sell more photos and earn money with their photography hobby.

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