Earlier this year the British Photographic Council commissioned a survey of professional photographers in the UK. It makes for some interesting reading.
You can download the full survey results here, but if you don't have time to wade through it all these are some of the salient points:
- photographers who retain copyright in their images earn, on average, 33% more than those who relinquish copyright to their clients
- the average (mean) freelance annual profit is £18,821
- only the top 19% of freelance photographers claimed an annual profit of £30,000 or more*
Regular readers will understand when I say, on the copyright issue, 'told you so'. But the profit figures should give everyone pause for thought. The average profit is below the UK's average wage. More importantly, in my view, it's wildly at odds with the perceived image of photography as a glamourous, financially rewarding profession.
Too many clients perceive photography as something that anyone can do, leaving photographers struggling to 'justify' their fees. When high quality images are treated as commodities rather than part of a brand's inherent value, is it any surprise that many photographers literally struggle to make ends meet?
The trickle of emails into my inbox wanting advice about becoming a pro has slowed over the past 18 months or so, perhaps because of the effects of the credit crunch. That's probably a good thing. To anyone thinking of making the leap at the moment, my advice would be simple: don't. You'll probably make more money flipping burgers.
* The survey treats staff salaries and freelance profits as equivalents. It's worth pointing out that that's not quite the case. Whilst some tax breaks are available on, for example, the purchase of new equipment, it's rarely 100% and the purchase still has to be funded directly from profits. In other words, a freelancer's salary is taken from their profit after deductions have been made for capital purchases. So the salary available from that £18.8k profit figure is even lower...