How Much Money Can You Make With Photography in One Week?

Any photography enthusiast who works a 9-to-5 job has probably wondered what it would be like to walk away from that day job and make all of their income through photography. This can be a scary endeavor, especially if you don’t have a specific plan in place to find clients.

YouTuber Jimmy Shixin decided to take a week off from his day job just to see how much money could make in a single week as a photographer. Since Shixin’s day gig nets about $3,000 a week, he set that amount as his goal to match or beat. For this experiment, he stacked the deck in his favor by photographing events during a period known as Cambridge May Week. This week is filled with events that celebrate the end of the academic year at Cambridge University in the UK.

As an event photographer, you should expect to work late into the night and perhaps into the next morning. Depending on your outlook and perhaps your age, this can be enjoyable or miserable for you. For Jimmy, the benefits of working as an event photographer this week included taking part in some of the parties and even securing a ticket to a ball for his girlfriend. When considering a move to becoming a full-time photographer, you will want to consider how your finances will increase or decrease and how your social life and sleep habits will be affected.

During the week, Jimmy acquires quite a few gigs, with his rates ranging anywhere from $100 to $1,000. Watch the video to see if he reached his goal of $3,000.

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8 Comments
Benoit .'s picture

It's hard to start. cutting it and taking $100.00 in order to charge more the next year offers no guarantee. Another photographer will have the same idea and why pay you more the next year if you take $100.00? I think this is how he sets his rate for the future with that specific place.

Tom Reichner's picture

If one has amassed thousands of marketable stock images, then it would not be so terribly difficult to have a big earnings week, if you spend one week really pushing yourself to contact a lot of potential clients and marketing your stock images to them. But most of us do not like to do sales and marketing, and cold-calling potential clients, so we just let the clients come to us in dribs and drabs, and have much smaller weekly earnings.

Brock Brogan's picture

This is so random! Not a bad article, just very much in line with many many professions. Just like the variance actors, real estate agents, lawyers, and countless other jobs enjoy: as does photography. I’ve made $0 in a week and I’ve made $10k in a week. Not sure how useful that information is to anyone.

Tony Clark's picture

I trust the main lesson is not to lowball jobs, you may have had a busy week and invoiced a fair amount but there was a lot of money left on the table. I would take the best images from the week, use them to market yourself and charge a much higher rate.

Jared Wolfe's picture

Great! Now just do it again for another 51 weeks and you can replace your day job!

Clearly not sustainable pricing and business model.

Tom Reichner's picture

I don't understand how it is not sustainable. I mean, honestly, overhead for a photography business can be quite low if one is frugal. Both start-up/initial investment costs and monthly costs can be very very low compared to most other types of businesses. And someone living in most parts of the United States can live okay on an income of $40,000 per year (as long as one isn't trying to support other people such as dependent children on their income). It simply isn't necessary to have a brick and mortar location or studio space, not necessary to have state of the art gear, and it certainly isn't necessary to have a personal annual income of over $50,000 USD. These things are nice, but by no means necessary to have in order for a business to sustain itself.

Jared Wolfe's picture

Did you even watch the video? He worked crazy long hours shooting. A 12 hour gig for just over 1k. Can you imagine a wedding photographer doing a 12 hour wedding for 1k?

It was only that busy that one week because of a large special series of events that particular week of the year. Any other week of the year he would probably make a few hundred.

All in all he worked probably at least twice to three times as hard that week as his day job just to make slightly more money than his day job.

That is not a sustainable business that can replace his day job.

Tom Reichner's picture

I am someone who works hard, full time hours, for minimum wage. And I am able to get by pretty well on that income that many people think of as "poverty level".

If you think about how long and how hard I work to earn $1,000, can you understand why I think that getting $1,000 for a 12 hour wedding is actually pretty good wages?

I mean, 4 hours preparing for the wedding and communicating with the client prior to the big day,12 hours of shooting, 20 or 25 hours of downloading, editing, and image selection, and probably another 6 hours of communicating with the client afterwards, getting images to them, collecting payment, etc.

$1,000 for 47 hours of total work. Seems like pretty good compensation for something that has such a low barrier to entry. Compared to the millions upon millions of people in the U.S. working for $11 to $15 per hour, at things that are just as hard and that require just as much skill and training as wedding photography, and it doesn't seem bad at all.

If anyone would pay me $1,000 cash to photograph an all-day-long wedding, I would jump at the chance! Where else am I ever going to be able to earn $1,000 for 47 hours worth of labor, using skills that I already have?