How Much Money Does a School Photographer Make in a Year?

How Much Money Does a School Photographer Make in a Year?

When you want to work out how much money a school photographer makes there are several things that need to be considered. These include whether the photographer is self-employed or freelancing for another firm or fully employed. It also depends on whether the school photographer is only making income from photographing school children. Where they live will make a difference whether that be country or area or whether they are networking to increase income and how many schools they visit regularly.  

Overall a school photographer working for someone else makes the following in the UK/US: In the USA the wage varies from $8.90-$15.78 ($36,811). UK Salary for school photographers varies a lot with base salaries ranging from around £5K-£15,000  (UK) with the chance to increase your income with commissions from photo sales. Below I have covered many of these areas so that you can better work out what your net income might be.

There are lots of things that you need to think about before deciding to become a school photographer and income is obviously an important factor. You need to make sure that the amount that you’re going to make from your photography business or as an employee is going to be a good livable income. If it’s something you’ve got your heart set on doing and you love to work with children you may find that you want to increase your income in other ways. If you are employed by a company you may not have the freedom to do that in your contract.

How Much Money Does a School Photographer Make in a Year?

The amount of money a school photographer makes varies depending on several important factors.

The amount may change depending on whether you are a staff member working for a firm on a specific pay grade, or if you are a freelance photographer working for another firm, or if you are a fully self-employed freelance photographer.

How Much Can You Make If you Work as a Self-Employed School Photographer?

To work out the total amount of money that you can make as a self-employed portrait photographer for schools you need to know how much your daily rate will be. You also need to know your average commission on your photos and what all of your expenses are.

You also need to allow for a time we’ll be doing other business related things so that you will not actually be physically making money taking photos and times were the schools are closed down so that again you will not be necessarily making any money unless you find alternatives.

It takes time to build up a client base and you will be up against the established photography businesses who will already have a contract. This means that you need to either undercut them or do extra outstanding work.

While under normal circumstances being the cheapest person out there is not necessarily the best course of action for any business, when it comes to dealing with schools especially in the UK the councils will probably go for the cheapest option. This may not necessarily be the best option. This is worth taking into consideration when you are putting in your prices for your bids. Or look to break into private schools. If this is an issue you may want to consider compensating for this by increasing sales with extra items or doing other portrait work as well.

School Photography Business Costs & Expenses

If you’re working for yourself you will need to take all of your costs into consideration and order to work out what your net income would be and whether you are pricing things correctly to make that.

As a self-employed photographer is likely that you will have daily rates. You will also gain some commission from the photos that you actually sell. However, you also need to consider the following costs for example:

  • The cost of running and having a car and the cost of the mileage of getting to and from your location.
  • The costs of any proofs if the school requires them.
  • The cost of your equipment including replacement items batteries bulbs etc.
  • Insurance, business & car, etc
  • Office costs including telephone, heating, computer, electric, post, stationery, etc
  • Future training
  • Website and internet costs including cost of website, upkeep, and hosting of the site, etc
  • Licenses and professional body membership fees
  • Mobile (cell) phone costs
  • Assistants
  • Accountants & Legal

Note:  things you need to take into account if you are working from a home office are that not every expense that you have will be allowable under business expenses.

While this may vary from country to country it’s worth knowing if this affects you. For example, if you work from home in the UK you are not allowed to charge for your line rental for your telephone as this is expected to be included in your normal day to day running of your home.  Check this with your government website online.

I’ve included this useful calculator although it’s US based if you’re not in the US you can still use the figures as a guide just substitute your own currency.

Cost on time taken to improve processing and chasing up clientele.

Cost of time taken to network and gain new clientele.

While both items of cost on time for networking and processing and chasing up clients while not a direct cost it will mean that it reduces the time that you can take actual photos unless you have assistants or outsource the work because you have to factor in the time you do this as this will cut into your profit margin. Having quality workflow benefits you because you have a system in place that you have fine-tuned that works for you and will save you time money and effort in the long run.

Allow For the Cost of Government Taxes

As a self-employed person you need to submit your income to the government and they will expect to take some income taxes from your earnings. The amount this is will depend on the profits you earn, what country you are in and what the government sets. This can vary quite a lot. It is typically between 24 to 50%. It’s well worth investigating and knowing this amount is in advance before you set your prices and setting up an accounting spreadsheet or software system.

Allow For Time Where You Will Not Make Any Money

You will also need to allow for downtime as with most school photography portraiture will be during term time. Schools have quite a lot of annual leave. And this means that you will be free to do other options during that time or you may find that there are on holiday school activities that you can join as a photographer. Or you may also prefer to have your own annual leave during this time to take advantage of the work lull.

Work as a Freelance Photographer But Semi Employed Freelancing for Other Companies

If you work as a freelance photographer you will not be able to set your own prices all of the time. Some companies will have set day rates and allowable expenses that you will need to use.  What these are will vary from company to company and of course, your pay will not be as stable as if you are employed.

How Often You Will Not Be Working on an Actual Job Bringing In An Income?

For example, in the UK the daily rate works out between £110 to £130 ($140 to $170) if you were to work 5 day weeks over 4 weeks. This is Between £2,200 and £2,600 ($2,868 to $3390) for 4 weeks work not including any commissions. This does not include any time off for processing or other activities or expenses discussed above. What you will need to do is work out what your minimum would be for all of your home life expenses and needs.

Work as an Employee for Another Company as a School Photographer

If you’re working as an employee for another company as a school photographer you may be paid a full-time income or you may be paid a base rate income plus a certain amount in commissions.

You may also either use your own vehicle or be allocated company vehicle a certain amount as expenses for travel may be included.

Other advantages of working for another company is that they often offer extra training on the job.

Disadvantages of working for other people is that you may not have the option to work outside of the firm which reduces your chance of making extra income.  This means your income is set.

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