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How Much Does a Pet Photographer Make in 2023? Tips to Get Started & FAQ

Ed Malaker

By Ed Malaker

woman making a photo of welsh corgi pembroke dogs with a professional dslr camera

Pet photography is becoming a popular niche as pet owners increasingly seek to capture their pets in unique ways, causing many people to wonder how much pet photographers can make in 2023. The answer is around $38,000 per year, but this can vary significantly based on several factors. Keep reading as we discuss the different things that can affect your rates to help you see if this profession is right for you.

What Are the Factors That Can Affect Pet Photography Rates?

1. Location

People living in a large city or major metropolitan area are more likely to pay higher rates than those living in rural areas. Large cities will likely also have more people with pets, which provides more opportunities for a pet photographer to make money.

American Staffordshire Terrier dog communicates with a photographer and sniffs the camera lens
Image Credit: Anaite, Shutterstock

2. Experience and Skill Level

Another important factor in determining how much the photographer will get paid is their experience and skill level. Photographers just getting into the business will not be able to charge as much as someone who’s been working for many years. Some photographers also have a better eye that can help create better photos, bringing in more money.

3. Type of Photography

The type of pictures that a photographer takes will greatly impact how much money they make. For example, three-dimensional and action shots will bring in more money than a traditional portrait because the photographer will need to do more work setting up and executing the photo. With an animal, it can take several tries.

black dog sitting on floor and looking at camera while having photo session at home
Image Credit: Alex Zotov, Shutterstock

4. Equipment and Supplies

The cost of equipment and supplies can have a big impact on the annual salary of a photographer. High-quality lenses, cameras, light diffusers, filters, and other tools of the trade can be quite costly. For example, a photographer just starting out will need to purchase these supplies over weeks, months, or even years, lowering their annual salary.

5. Business Expenses

Another thing that you need to consider when determining how much a photographer makes is business expenses. Advertising, travel costs, web design and maintenance, and more can all use up profits, reducing your annual salary.

Woman on computer doing research
Image Credit: StockSnap, Pixabay

6. Client Base

Most people visit the same place repeatedly when they receive satisfactory results. The same is true for pet photography. Happy customers will come back, and the more you have, the more money you will make each year, as holidays are common times to get pet photos.

Average Pet Photography Rates in 2023

Based on these factors, pet photography rates in 2023 can vary significantly. Pet owners can expect to pay $250–$500 for the average photography session in the United States. This usually involves a pre-session consultation, the actual photography session, and a retouching of the photos. During the consultation, the photographer will usually offer a wide variety of print and digital packages that range in price.

dog photoshooting at the studio with all necessary equipment
Image Credit: Papanikolakis Photography, Shutterstock

Pet Photography as a Full-Time Job

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the average annual wage for photographers in 2023 is $36,280, but that figure includes all types of photography, not just pets. However, any kind of specialization, including pet photography, can result in a higher annual rate, with many professionals charging up to $1,500 per session. That said, achieving that kind of success can take a while and will require hard work and dedication. Pet photographers need to know how to appropriately work with animals to keep them under control during each session. They also need people skills to work with the owners, who can be extremely demanding.

Is Pet Photography a Good Side Job?

It certainly can be. With the average pet photography session costing between $250 and $500, even a few monthly sessions can add up to a significant income. The sessions will also help you build relationships with pets and pet owners that may enable you to move to a full-time position later.

cat that takes pictures old camera
Image Credit: azem, Shutterstock

How Can I Get Started as a Pet Photographer?

Once you have the equipment, offering your services to friends and family can be a great way to get started as a pet photographer. It’s also a good idea to attend pet-related events and offer photography sessions to people with pets to help spread the word about your business.

Tips for Preparing a Pet for a Photography Session

Here are tips that you can provide to owners to improve the chances of having a good photography session:
  • Practice basic obedience commands, like “sit,” “stay,” and “come” to make it easier to get your pet into the right position for the photo.
  • Take your pet for a walk or otherwise get exercise beforehand so they are not so excited at the photo shoot.
  • Bring plenty of treats and toys to help keep your pet focused and engaged during the session, and reward them when they do a good job.
  • Grooming your pet before the photo sessions will help them look their best in the pictures. A quick bath and brushing are usually all that you need to do.
  • Don’t forget your leash and collar, even if your pet is well-trained. The strange environment and flashing lights can cause them to behave strangely.


The average pet photographer makes about $38,000 annually, but this can vary significantly depending on the location, client base, type of photography, skill level, etc., with some professionals making significantly more. Most single sessions cost $250–$500, so pet photography can make a great side job as you purchase new equipment and gain experience and customers until you have a strong enough customer base to leap to full-time.

Featured Image Credit: Jus_OI, Shutterstock

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