If the thought of capturing spring flowers appeals to you, a wildlife photography career might be a perfect fit. However, making a career out of it and focusing on the creative art form of documentation requires adequate planning. So, before you dive in headfirst, you probably want to know how much you can expect to earn as a wildlife photographer in Canada. Wildlife photographer salary in Canada varies quite a bit depending on factors like experience, location, and the types of projects or clients you land. Having researched the job market, we’ll dive deep into how much you can expect to make if you take this career path.
Factors That Impact Earnings for Canadian Wildlife Photographers
Wildlife photography is quite interesting. Experts are keen observers and have an eye for beauty embedded in the natural environment. Thus, it boasts wildlife conservation and environmental awareness.
Basically, there are many facets to this form of photography. Wildlife photographers may sometimes adapt existing photographic images or take new digitized images. Similarly, they may focus on wild animals, sea life, or specific species of plants. The shots may either be dynamic action shots or static poses. So many of these peculiarities and other factors affect wildlife photographer salaries in Canada.
Let’s examine what influences the average salary of wildlife photographers in Canada.
Experience and Skill Level
The more experience you have, the higher your pay will typically be. Developing expertise in a particular type of wildlife or habitat, mastering techniques like camouflage and patience, and building a stunning portfolio allow you to charge premium rates. With 5-10 years of experience, you may earn $41,000-$42,000 per year or more.
Type of Work
What kind of work you take on impacts your compensation. For example, assignments from tourism agencies, non-profits, and publications tend to pay less than commercial work for advertising or stock agencies. Also, salaried jobs with parks, reserves, and tourism operators provide stability but often lower pay. Freelancing allows the highest potential earnings but less stability.
Where you live and work in Canada affects pay. Generally, wildlife photographers in larger cities and economically prosperous areas of British Columbia, Ontario, and Alberta earn higher wages. Remote locations usually mean a lower cost of living but fewer job opportunities and lower pay. But on average, an employee along this line earns about $750 per week and around 40, 500-42 000 annually.
Keep in mind that as a wildlife photographer, you have significant expenses. This may include high-quality cameras, lenses, drones or underwater equipment, transportation, permits, and insurance which can cost $30,000-$50,000 per year or more. Your earnings must be high enough to offset costs and make a good living.
Salary Estimates Of Provinces for Wildlife Photography Careers
If you’re considering a career as a wildlife photographer in Canada, the province you work in can significantly impact your earning potential. Some of the top-paying provinces for wildlife photographers are:
B.C. is a wildlife photographer’s paradise, with stunning landscapes, coastal areas, and mountain vistas. Wildlife photographers in B.C. earn a median salary of $37,274. There are more job opportunities in the southern parts of the province, especially near Vancouver and Vancouver Island. Critical areas for nature photography include the Great Bear Rainforest, Vancouver Island, Okanagan Valley, and Canadian Rockies.
Alberta’s combination of prairies, forests, and the Rocky Mountains provides a natural habitat for many species, like bears, bighorn sheep, and birds of prey.
Wildlife photographers in Alberta earn a median salary of $42,000. Banff and Jasper National Parks, Waterton Lakes National Park, and Wood Buffalo National Park are prime locations. The best times for wildlife photography are spring and fall.
Ontario offers opportunities to photograph wildlife like moose, wolves, tundra swans, and polar bears. Wildlife photographers earn a median salary of $38,498 here. Some of the top spots are Algonquin Provincial Park, Polar Bear Provincial Park, Georgian Bay, and the shores of Hudson Bay. The various landscapes, from the Canadian Shield to the Great Lakes, provide habitats for many wildlife species.
The salaries listed are only averages, so they will vary depending on factors like your experience level, education, location, and cost of living in each province. Building your portfolio and skills, earning certifications, and gaining more experience bumps your pay as a nature photographer.
Additional Income Sources for Wildlife Photographers
As a wildlife photographer in Canada, you can generate income from various sources beyond just selling your photos.
The fact is a wildlife photographer often requires specialized techniques like making technical adjustments. Hence, tapping into this advantage and diversifying your revenue streams is key to having a successful career.
Many wildlife photographers supplement their income by teaching photography workshops and tours. You can teach beginner workshops on wildlife photography basics like picture composition. Or you could teach other generic tricks like how people can build conversion with quality videos and other product photography tips.
Alternatively, you could lead small group tours to prime locations for wildlife spotting and shooting. With your expertise, these may appeal to hobbyists and help you generate good money.
Selling Stock Photography
Selling your wildlife photos as stock photography is a popular way to create passive income. Websites like Shutterstock, iStock, and Alamy allow you to upload your photos for others to license and use.
You earn a royalty each time someone buys the rights to your photo. While individual sales may be small, the sales volume over time racks up to thousands of dollars per year.
Writing for Publications
If writing comes naturally, consider pitching articles to photography and nature publications. You can write educational how-to pieces on wildlife photography techniques, reviews of equipment, stories from your experiences in the field, or highlights of a particular location or species. Publications typically pay between $200 to $500 for a feature article. Get your name out there as an expert in your niche.
For the outdoorsy photographer, leading wildlife photography tours and safaris are an exciting way to generate income. Work with a tour company to lead groups to prime wildlife viewing and photography destinations.
Use your skills to help clients get the best shots of local wildlife in their natural habitat. As a guide, you earn a percentage of the tour fees, which vary but can be $3,000-$10,000 per client for international tours.
Tips for Boosting Your Wildlife Photography Salary in Canada
To boost your wildlife photography salary in Canada, you need to always sharpen your photography skills. Here are some other tips:
Build Your Portfolio
The more stunning photos you have to show clients, the more you can charge. Focus on capturing a variety of Canadian wildlife in different seasons and settings. Try to get shots of common animals like deer and birds and rare sightings of creatures like moose, bears, or wolves.
Specialize in a Particular Region or Species
Become an expert in photographing the wildlife of a specific eco-region like the Rocky Mountains or a particular animal like whales, owls, or foxes. Specialization allows you to charge premium rates. You’ll also spend less time researching locations and habits and more time taking high-quality shots.
Sell Stock Photos
Upload your best wildlife shots to stock photo websites where people can purchase the rights to use your photos. You earn a percentage of each sale. The more your photos are downloaded, the more you make. Stock photos are a great source of passive income for wildlife photographers.
Provide Additional Services
Don’t just take the photos—provide other services to increase your pay. You may provide tours for people interested in wildlife viewing and photography.
Give talks or lead workshops on wildlife photography techniques. Some photographers even offer private photo coaching or mentoring for amateur photographers.
Negotiate the Best Deals
Negotiate the best payment terms with publications, tourism agencies, or stock photo sites. Ask for royalties or a cut of sales in addition to upfront fees. You can charge premium rates for more challenging shots, rare or hard-to-access animals, or for providing additional services like editing or post-processing the photos.
Generally, the job outlook for photographers in Canada is quite good. While the road won’t always be easy, following your passion and doing the job you find meaningful is quite rewarding.
If you have the skills, patience, and dedication, wildlife photography in Canada could be an ideal creative career. The stunning natural landscapes and abundant wildlife provide plenty of opportunities to capture powerful and inspiring images. And who knows, with time and practice, you may just become the next famous Canadian wildlife photographer!