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How much do photographers get paid in New Zealand?

Working in photography is a creative, exciting and constantly talked about career. If you’ve always wondered if changing lanes to look at life through a lens, then you might be interested to know just what the earning potential is for a photographer in New Zealand.

The average salary for a photographer in New Zealand is around $70,000, or an equivalent photography hourly rate of somewhere around $30-$60

However, this isn’t the full story – and some photographers are actually earning well into 6 figures! How? Let’s find out…

In this blog, we’ll break down what photographers get paid, and why. Plus, we’ll look at the top online photography courses that can kickstart your new creative career and start that dream studio!

First, let’s break down what a photography career looks like.

Photographers use their creative and technical capabilities to capture photos of people, places, events, animals, products…and more! Many are often hired to take photos at memorable moments such as weddings, birthdays, and graduations. Others choose to specialise in areas like fashion, wildlife or portrait work.

To work as a photographer requires an in-depth knowledge of composition, light, cameras, lenses & photo editing software. You must also be able to effectively market your work, keep all documents and that all-important portfolio updated, plus keep on top of industry trends and demands.

A degree is not required to become a photographer, but proper training and a photography certificate can dramatically increase employment opportunities. Many consider photography a form of art that takes many years to perfect, and many new photographers expand their skills by working as an assistant to leading names in the sphere.

Working as a photographer requires attention to detail, creativity, endurance, technical prowess and the ability to communicate with models or subjects well. Knowledge of business is also beneficial, as many choose to work as a freelancer or start their own studio.

The main determining factors that have an effect on how much you can make as a photographer include your niche, location, business skills & marketing and, of course, skill level.

1) Niche

The area you choose to specialise in could have an effect on your income level. Choosing a niche is a fantastic way to enhance your profile and help you gain recognition in your field.  

For example, a self employed wedding photographer will usually earn around $50-$250 per hour. However, once well known many charge anywhere from $3,000 – $5,000 per wedding, and earn well into 6 figures on busy years! 

Demand in certain areas can rise and fall, depending on the time of the year too. For example in fashion, during important seasonal shows you may be inundated with work. And in worlds like this, catering to your audience’s needs and establishing yourself in that sphere, your earnings can rise rapidly during busy periods.

2) Location

Your operating base as a photographer can be a big factor that affects your income. This can influence the clientele you work with and the expectation of rates, as well as the amount of competition you face. 

In general, basing in a larger city can yield a higher income. For example, photographers in the Wellington area can make around $3,000 per month, and photographers in the Auckland area charge around $65 hourly.

However, being in a less competitive environment out in the suburbs and offering a niche service, like pet photography, for example, can also yield great results. If you take the time to build a standing in the local community, you can benefit from word of mouth and low levels of competition.

3) Business skills & marketing

To run a thriving studio you’ll need to have some knowledge of marketing, pricing, branding, accounts, customer service, and more. Whilst you might think a creative eye is all you need, to really transform your earnings into a six-figure salary you’ll need to build your business using these invaluable tools. 

By harnessing effective marketing you can grow your customer base, and with business skills, you can ensure they return and that you maximise your earnings with streamlined services.

4) Skill level

Creating beautiful photos requires a balance of artistic freedom and technical prowess. So it goes without saying that a solid skillset and experience matters hugely if you want to increase your earnings as a photographer.

For example, an entry-level photographer in New Zealand earns an average salary of $50,000 On the other end of the spectrum, a senior level studio manager can earn an average salary of $105,000.

Without a doubt, the best way to increase your skill level is by taking a photography course. And better yet – why not take online courses in photography. That way you can learn around your current commitments, and even begin your photography career as a lucrative side hustle to begin with.

We have spent 15 years formulating the top photography courses taken online. Led by industry experts, with personal tutor support and 24/7 access – you will be guided through the foundations of photography. 

So whether you want to simply increase your skills, with a beginner course, learn about the world of professional photography or even take a course specifically designed to help you run your own studio. There’s something for everyone! Plus, we even have specialised courses in Wildlife and Portrait photography, for those who know their calling lies in that niche. 

We build business skills into each of our courses, so you can be sure to hit the ground running, especially our Photography Business course, which comes with marketing modules to get you seen!

Unsure which course is right for you? Then do speak to our helpful support team. They can guide you to the right path based on your goals and previous experience. We are here to help you succeed!


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