The earnings of a wedding photographer vary by country, though some have a lot in common. The U.S., Canada, and Australia have similar salaries and hourly wages, and the U.K. is close with hourly wages but its salaries are half as much. Norway has high hourly rates but extremely low salaries, while Switzerland has astronomically high hourly wages and salaries alike. Economic factors such exchange rates and the cost of living are a few of the reasons for these differences. The purpose of this article is to explore the factors that influence a wedding photographer salary in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia, Switzerland, and Norway.
Wedding Photographer Salary Influencers
A simple way to go about analyzing the differences in the wedding photography careers between these six countries is to break it into sections such as industry, geographical area, experience, working hours, bonuses and benefits packages, and job outlook. Each section will be broken down to specifically address each country.
Wedding photographers are mostly independent contractors or freelance photographers, so benefits such as insurance and paid-time-off (PTO) are rare. Bonuses are often low if they happen at all, but in Canada and Australia, they range from $200 to $8,000. Hourly pay in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Australia is around $25, while in Norway it’s about $40. Meanwhile, the Swiss make about $320. Salaries in the U.S., Canada, and Australia average to a little over $40,000, while U.K. salaries are close to $27,000 and Norway’s are less than $5,000. Switzerland, for many economic reasons, has salaries of about $80,000.
2. Geographical Area
Wedding Photographer Salaries by Country*
|Wedding Photographer Salary||Hourly Wage||Annual Wage|
*All rates will appear with their USD conversions below.
Wedding Photographer Salary in the U.S.
The average salary of a wedding photographer in the United States is $45,775, while the average photographer’s salary is only $43,676. The average hourly rate is $37.50, $12.78 more than the average photographer. Bonuses vary greatly but average to $100 a year. Most wedding photographers work as independent contractors, so they rarely receive any benefits such as healthcare or PTO.
Wedding Photographer Salary in Canada
Most Canadian wedding photographers are freelance photographers. The median salary for a freelance photographer is C$49,263 (USD$38,676.38), and the median hourly wage is C$20.35 (USD$15.98). Bonuses are rare but can vary between C$255.32 to C$10,213 (USD$200.48 – 8019.32). Tips average to about C$1.27 (USD$1.00) an hour.
Wedding Photographer Salary in the UK
Salaries vary greatly around the United Kingdom for wedding photographers. Most are freelance photographers, which average a salary of £20,816 (USD$26,985.13) and an hourly rate of £20 (USD$25.92). Bonuses are rare so there is little data on them.
Wedding Photographer Salary in Australia
As with most other countries, most of Australian wedding photographers are freelance photographers. Their average salary is AU$54,544 (USD$ 42,308.14) and their hourly rate is AU$25.02 (USD $25.02). Bonuses can range anywhere from AU$98.99 to AU$9,863 (USD$76.78 – 7650.48).
Wedding Photographer Salary in Switzerland
Swiss wedding photographers are also commonly freelance photographers. Their median salary is CHF 77,511 and the median hourly rate is CHF 310 (USD$ 319.92). Bonuses are usually about CHF 9,826 (USD$79,990.72). These rates are very high compared to the other countries, though it is largely because of the worth of their currency and the high cost of living, which is about 41% higher than the United States.
Wedding Photographer Salary in Norway
The median monthly salary of photographers in Norway is NOK 38,100 (USD$4,626.43) and the average hourly wage is NOK 330.37 (USD$40.13). Why the hourly wages for Norwegian photographers is so low in comparison to its low salary is unclear, though it may have to do with the fact that Norway has 5.2% marriage rate compared to the U.S. rate of 9.8%. There is little information on bonuses for them.
Experience impacts wedding photography in a complex way. While clients will pay higher rates to those who have years of experience, most people who have worked in the field for 10 years move on to other careers or areas of photography. Education plays a role because it shows a certain competency with the equipment, and nearly every college course on photography requires a great deal of hands-on work, which builds experience. However, most people do not stay life-long wedding photographers unless they are passionate about it, but rather move on after making enough money to fund other passions.
The working hours of a wedding photographer, regardless of country, depend on the length of the wedding and if the photographer stays for the entire wedding or is just present for the ceremony. While in the U.S., the average amount paid for overtime is $515, in the U.K., overtime averages to about £300 (USD$389.07). Canadian photographers usually charge an extra C$18.00 (USD$14.14) an hour overtime, and Australian photographers charge AU$49.13 (USD $38.12) an hour for overtime. There is very little data on overtime pay in Switzerland or Norway.
Bonuses & Benefit Packages
Most wedding photographers do not receive bonuses but work at an agreed rate for each job, and do not get insurance of any kind from an employer because they are often independent contractors. The more satisfied a customer is, the more likely they are to give the photographer a bonus, and a larger one, but this is not the standard. Benefit packages usually don’t go beyond the photographer sometimes being allowed to eat at the reception and attend other parts of the wedding ceremony when they aren’t busy taking pictures.
As of 2014, there were only 124,900 jobs in the U.S. photography industry, with a meager 3% job outlook. Many people have a friend or family member do their wedding photos instead of employing a professional. This puts most wedding photographers out of business unless they charge steep rates that put off clients. However, a solid portfolio to prove competence and a degree are still solid ways to get clients. People still want quality wedding photos to show off for decades afterwards. Wedding photographers, like artists in every country, employ resourcefulness and dedicated to their craft to get clients.
Wedding photographers are often independent contractors with few bonuses or benefits. Between the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia, Switzerland, and Norway, they average $38,000 yearly and $130/hour. Experience is preferable, but photographers often leave after 10 years due to profitability. It takes dedication and resourcefulness to succeed in wedding photography.