These days anyone can do photography with their DSLR cameras, iPhones, or even with Android smartphones. But professional photography is something on a different level. It’s not a walk in the park as many people think.
Professional photography is an art that requires talent and experience. Out of the umpteen pro photographers operating globally, there are some who possess exceptional talent, skill, and experience. And that’s why they also charge high.
Needless to say, they aren’t highly paid right from scratch. Rather, they worked hard, unveiled their talent & skill, and produced photography masterpieces in their respective niches. With the passage of time, they kept on astonishing their viewers and clients, inspiring them to raise their fees.
This write-up will round up the top 16 highest paid photographers from different niches around the world. So, keep reading…
Professional photographers have ample opportunities to explore this wonderful world and make quick money. Only this is that they have to wow their audience and clients. And then, they will start flying high.
Let’s check out the top 16 richest photographers working across the globe —
Annie Leibovitz is one of the opulent photographers with huge popularity globally. Her work incorporates modern celebrities posing as characters in fantasy landscapes. She assisted Caityln Jenner to come out as a trans woman, snapped John Lennon on the day of his death, and took the now-prominent portrait of the Queen with her grandchildren.
Annie, the American portrait photographer was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, and brought up all over the world. She worked for Rolling Stone magazine in 1970 and that marked the start of her career. The Walt Disney Company hired her in 2007 for the Year of a Million Dreams campaign and it was a mammoth accomplishment.
Her imposing portraits of celebrities are among the most eminent in the world. These are also known for their lighting and luminous colors. She is arguably the most iconic fashion photographer in the world. In a nutshell, anyone who has worked with Leibovitz should feel proud of that.
An abstract photographer, Cindy Sherman is well known for her conceptual portraits. She typically snaps her photographs in a series telling a narrative. One of her highly idolizing works consisted of sixty-nine black-and-white photographs intended to eliminate female stereotypes in arthouse films.
Along with that, she has also worked with high fashion brands, magazines, and makeup companies that complimented her outstanding work. The special attraction of Sherman’s photography is the use of a green screen in her self-portraits.
She primarily works alone as a model, stylist, and photographer, and this enables her to feel free and chill in her work. As a result, she has been known to produce some of the world-class works working in her studio alone.
The world’s best paid photographers can’t be complete without listing Gilles Bensimon. This French photographer has had an abundance of success, including reviving the popular fashion magazine, Elle magazine.
Gilles discovered his passion for the arts at the outset of life and with lots of hard work. He successfully commenced his photography career, becoming a global star in the industry.
The French fashion photographer is also involved in America’s Next Top Model TV series. He has also worked with masses of celebrities and captured Haute Couture. He grew up with an innate passion and interest in photography. And later on, he developed a fully-fledged career in it as he was able to refine his skills.
A landscape photographer, Andreas Gursky is known for his mind-blowing landscape photographs. He frequently shoots from a high vantage point in order to take snapshots as much as possible. In 2011, one of his pieces fetched 4.3 million dollars, which was the highest anyone has ever paid for a photograph.
Normally, his work fetches more than a million dollars, making him a well-known name in the industry. The German photographer and university professor is known also known for large-format architectural photographs.
His photographs focus on the modern world and the different changes in architecture and landscapes that have taken place over the years. His digitally manipulated photographs perfectly capture contemporary culture.
Suggested Article– Top Architectural Photographers.
Morgan Norman is an ideal example of the classic phrase, working hard comes off. He kicked off his career by assisting a renowned photographer, Carl Bengtsson. After serving a number of years on the job, Morgan successfully entered the professional market as an independent photographer in 2007.
Morgan earned a name for himself as an art photographer when he showcased some of his work at the Commedia Dell’arte and LIBIDO shows in 2008. This shutterbug has a unique style of photography that is loved in the fashion industry. In his shots, this highly paid photographer is known for his magnificent use of light and color.
Lynsey Addario is a photojournalist, known for shooting raw and dark images by venturing into the world’s remote corners. She focuses mainly on human rights and social issues. Her noteworthy shots include the predicaments of living in conflict-ridden and war-torn places such as Afghanistan, Congo, Iraq, and Libya.
No wonder her photography has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, and Time magazine. Even though she has notched up a great reputation, her work has not always been easy. She went missing in Libya in 2011 but was released after five days. She was also harshly beaten and sexually harassed while on assignment.
Mario Testino is a world-renowned fashion photographer who predominantly focuses on portraying different types of fashion. He is well-known for a style known as “luxury realism” as he shoots his subjects in moments of candid behavior.
Plethora of contemporary fashion photographers have used emotionless photos of their subjects. In contrast, Mario Testino captures the expression of emotions and other feelings in his photography with full command.
Apart from that, he has been called the world’s most prolific magazine and fashion trade photographer by “The Observer”. Testino has received a bounty of honorable awards and accolades, including the Hero Award, British Style Award, Elle Style Award, and so on.
Jimmy Nelson has been eager for photography since 1987. He was born in 1967 and is distinguished for his photos of indigenous people and tribes that are gradually becoming smaller and less populated. However, his works are often slammed for imperfections and generalizations.
Over the years Nelson has published a number of books including, Before They Pass Away, a stunning portrait of 35 indigenous tribes recorded using an antique plate camera. He has displayed his work globally and won countless awards.
In 2016, he launched the Jimmy Nelson Foundation with a view to nurturing an appreciation for cultural diversity and connecting people across the globe to celebrate polychromatic cultural identity.
An Australian photographer, known for capturing nature with panoramic landscape photography. For more than 35 years, he has been pushing the boundaries of fine art with his cracking photographs. He markets himself as a “fine arts” photographer and vends his photographs on a sliding scale. This makes them pricier as he gets closer to selling a particular printout.
He is self-taught and one of the pioneers of landscape photography, making him popular with clients. Nature and landscapes are often overlooked aspects of photography, and there are very limited participants in this field.
Lik’s accomplishments include — Nearly half a billion dollars of sales in his lifetime and claiming to have sold the priciest print of all time at $6.5 million. As a matter of fact, he is one of the most controversial photographers of our generation.
If you’re a regular watcher of BBC, you might have seen Timothy Allen’s work in the landmark series “Human Planet”. Timothy Allen has spent numerous years documenting the life of tribal people and isolated communities around the world.
Allen snagged his first photography job with The Sunday Telegraph. Not long after working there, Timothy landed a long-term job at The Independent. His career success allowed him to continue his zeal for telling the stories of indigenous people.
One of Allen’s accomplishments embodies the Animal Planet documentary encompassing all about his travel photography. He boasts powerful story-telling skills, which are crystal clear in the photographs that he takes when in these situations.
When it comes to portrait and people photography, Marco is one of the first names that comes to mind. He specializes in film industry photography and has worked with dozens of big-name actors. He has worked with various actors such as George Clooney, Sandra Bullock, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert Downey, etc.
Besides, he has worked with famous musicians such as Lady Gaga, Justin Beiber, and Sir Elton John, as well as major corporations such as Warner Brothers, Walt Disney, and MARVEL. That being said, Grob has also taken shots of many political figures including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Joe Biden, and umpteen others.
Marco’s work always reflects professionalism, creativity, and a crisp look. He takes advantage of sophisticated equipment to shoot modern photography. Many superhit movie posters include his work “TRON: Legacy” and “The Avengers.”
Steve McCurry is a photojournalist and photographer hailing from the United States. He takes an interest in endangered cultures of the world, ancient traditions, conflicts, and contemporary cultures. The American photographer’s work has shown up on the cover of National Geographic several times.
His work encompasses color photography which showcases human emotion. He has been traveling around the world for more than 30 years capturing traditions and culture. Also, he has received several honors and awards for his exceptional work.
He is known for his evocative color photographs. The “Afghan Girl” is his most reputed photographer. His work “The green-eyed girl” was featured on the cover of National Geographic magazine. McCurry has worked for National Geographic on loads of projects.
Lee Jeffries is one of the photographers who received international recognition for his captivating portraits of homeless people. In his leisure time, Jeffries shoots photos of homeless people all over the world. However, he works as a full-time accounting job near Manchester.
His work is exceptional, and he manages to capture the people who are indigent, down and out, living a life they never imagined, and hoping for a change of luck in future.
Jeremy kicked off his career as a painter and soon after that developed a passion for the creative process. He went on to study graphic design in college and initiated his own company. His photographs are works of art and notched up the attention of celebrities and photographers worldwide. He has worked with bigwigs like the Kardashians, Taylor Swift, and Tim Tebow.
On top of that, he is the founder Help-Portrait which is a global movement of photographers. Under this movement, they use their time, skill, and gadgets to give back to the less-fortunate people. He spends most of his time on community projects and addresses major issues in society.
Joe McNally is a well-known National Geographic Society photographer who has been capturing the organization since 1987. He has received four World Press Photo awards for this marvelous work. His salary range is between $400K and $800K.
He works in New York City and lives in Ridgefield, Connecticut. He has captured the Afghan war, which was covered in the New York Times.
Known as Zemotion popularly, the Chinese-Singaporean photographer’s work appeared in several editions of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Elle. She also showed up on the Forbes 30 under 30 Asia list in 2018 and is one of the highest paid photographers in the world.
Her portfolio exhibits some world-famous companies such as Mercedes Benz, Canon, Elle Magazine and Ogilvy & Mather Advertising. Besides, her first solo exhibition, named “Something Beautiful”, took place in 2008 at The Arts House in Singapore and facilitated her path to winning innumerable awards ever since.
Her knack and experience in fine arts have leveled up her fashion photography in a significant way. At present, she works most of the time in New York, London, and Paris.
All the above photographers have secured incredible success in their careers. Their majestic works are a testament to their talents and hard work. No matter whether shooting portraits of the rich and famous or use cutting-edge technology to produce stunning and unique images, they are masters in these.
Some of them even travel to different parts of the world to explore and capture the beauty and wonders of this diverse life. They pour their heart and soul into creating art to cater to the masses and so far, it’s working out.