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The Real Truth On How To Earn $100,000 Per Year As A Boudoir Photographer

Updated: Mar 11

Boudoir Photography woman pulling underwear

Ah, $100,000 per year. It seems like the magical number for photographers. Is it a realistic earnings number, though? Curious about how much boudoir photographers make per year? Let's take a look...

Being a boudoir photographer is a great occupation! Over the past six or seven years boudoir has steadily gained in popularity, and more and more women are taking part in sessions every year. --And why not! Not only is boudoir photography fun and a great gift idea, there is also the added benefit of it being an uplifting experience for all who take part, which is a big part of the allure.

Despite what you may believe (or have read), boudoir photography is actually a quite small and interesting subset of the photography universe as a whole. Boudoir, like any niche business can be tricky to learn and master, but for those to have the determination to invest the time in learning, it can be a lucrative experience.

Whether you've been thinking about becoming a boudoir photographer, or perhaps you've already begun your journey to grow your business, this article contains some real-world advice for those who want to reach a level of income that may not be possible working your standard 9-5 type job. Curious about what a boudoir photographer's salary is? Let's see if these lofty numbers are even possible.

Getting Started

The first thing is to realize not everyone is looking to make a career out of photography, and that's fine! Everyone who loves shooting hoops out in the driveway doesn't necessarily have the end goal of becoming an NBA All-star. Shooting around for fun is all most people ever expect, or want-- and that's enough for them. Many, many photographers are just that-- hobbyists who enjoy the art and experience of photography and that's enough for them.

Others see photography is a great opportunity to earn some extra cash on weekends to pay some bills, or maybe to invest in some new gear. You may already have a friend who may shoot a wedding on an occasional weekend, or do some family portraits in their spare time. Photography is a great part time job.

Then, there are those who set out to make photography a full time career with a full blown paycheck, and maybe even look to it to provide an income which may have not been possible otherwise.

For those who are best as described in the latter-- often, the path is wrought with frustration and failure.

I've frequently written about how most boudoir photographers set themselves up for failure right from the start. This is often someone who has no photography experience, but yet he/she wakes up one morning suddenly inspired that they are going to emmppppoooowwweeeerrrr women across the universe! The stars aligned, the birds sang, and now she/he is in full storm-the-beaches mode to start shooting boudoir and make women feel beautiful. They head to Amazon, plop down a hefty sum for a pro camera, sign up for a Wix website, and *BOOM* THEY ARE NOW A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER!! WHOOT!! The world should be beating a path to their doorsteps.

Nothing wrong with that dream--- except for the execution. So, Mike, what's wrong with that? That's exactly what I did... Well, this is the part where the reality sets in that no one wants to hear. Photography is a weird business where the actual "learning" seems to be somewhat of an afterthought. If you took out the "camera" part, and say substituted a "guitar" what would you think of this story...

Mike wakes up one day suddenly inspired to be the best guitarist in the world. He races to the nearest Guitar Center, runs inside, and exclaims to a sales rep, "I'm going to be the best guitarist in the world... I want the same guitar Eddie Van Halen uses..." So he maxes out his credit cards, and buys the guitar. Afterward, he races home, sits down at his desk and creates a new website --- and offers should come streaming in from major rock bands begging Mike to join them as a guitarist. Right?? ---And oh, by the way, Mike has never even touched a guitar before, and has no idea to play! Not even a single note!

Hmmm. Somehow exclaiming myself as a "pro" guitar player without even knowing how to play a single note won't most likely get major rock bands knocking on my door. It probably won't even get local kids in a high school garage band chasing after me either, huh. What about the local coffee house circuit?? I TOLD them I was a "pro" (after all, my website says so) but when they asked me to audition, that seemed to be a bit of a problem, being I really don't know how to play...

That guitar scenario would be totally ridiculous, right? BUT this is exactly what people exploring their options in photography do...and expect...ALL THE TIME. They feel because suddenly they say they are a "pro," women around the world should be lining up at their doorsteps throwing cash at them for their scary talents.

The number one thing to posses on your path to boudoir success and earning $100,000 per year as a boudoir photographer is to have self awareness. Self awareness that you'll be bad at first, and self awareness that you have no idea how to run a photography business. Harsh but true.

As ridiculous as the idea is of someone with absolutely no experience playing guitar and deeming themselves a "pro" with the expectation of major offers to come rolling in-- Its just as ridiculous as buying your camera on Amazon and publishing with the expectation of immediate boudoir greatness. Yes, I understand your divine inspiration of changing lives and empowering women... but it's still a path to failure, despite your good intentions. Chasing a false narrative isn't enough. It really isn't.

The reality is its a long hard road.

Photography is a business with a lot of "noise." There are hundreds... scratch that...thousands... well even scratch that... MILLIONS of photographers out there. Today, everyone is a photographer. There are smart phones in practically every hand taking photos. Everyone is a photographer. Why in the world would someone pay you to do something they can do themselves??

Some see this as a difficulty, but smart people see this as an opportunity-- and I'll get to that later.

Aside from the photographing masses, there may be dozes of pros in your area, as well.