Guess which study photographers ranked worst for #1

We’ve all heard of the ‘starving artist’ cliché, but a new study from the UK puts this narrative into concrete terms, showing that photography graduates really do become (on average) starving artists. To add insult to injury, the study shows that photographers not only make the list, but also rank worst among low-income postgraduates. Ouch.

Adzuna, a UK-based job search engine, analyzed more than 120,000 resumes to find out which jobs paid the lowest five years after getting her college degree. The research found that a photography degree offers the worst value for money, with graduates earning an average salary of £24,785 ($29,381) five years after graduation.

On the American side of the research, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports in 2021 that the median annual wage for photographers is $48,210.

The average college degree leaves graduates with £45,000 ($53,345) in debt. It seems that in the age of the “YouTube Academy,” traditional art degrees are hard to justify.

I’m one of the few to have graduated in fine arts. Did my studies pay off? Absolutely. I had requirements not only in film and digital photography, but also in design, composition and art history, which have had a significant influence on my work. Would I say that you need a degree to be a successful photographer? Absolutely not. Very few of the greatest works in the history of photography come from people with degrees in the field. Fortunately, I fall well outside the average for the study salaries. Maybe my next article should be “Making Great Money In Photography: How To Actually Do It”.

When reading these statistics, the question naturally arises: “Why”? Why do we as photographers have the lowest return on investment in our education? Do we underestimate our work? Does it have to do with the trend topic “impostor syndrome”? Maybe it’s related to lowering our prices for fear of not closing the deal? The downside of the “YouTube Academy” is that now everyone is a photographer. We’ve all received these answers: “Well, my cousin is a photographer, and he can do that for…” Is it that the increasing quality of cell phone images has reduced the need for professional, or at least semi-professional, work? ?

I’m thankful that I’m falling out of the stats and that my clients see the difference in my work enough to pay more. In cases where clients want the work for less money, I find that being educated on the process of creating the image helps them understand the price. I have charged several hundred dollars for a shot on numerous occasions. Some ask for thousands.

I’ve found that education drives prices down from what buyers think should cost to an actually fair price for the time and expertise that goes into creating the images.

What are your thoughts? Why do photographers fall into the painfully low range in this study? Is there a way to change that? Leave a comment below. Reading your post is always my favorite part of the article.

Cheers and happy clicking this week.

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