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France Shares Report on the State of Its Professional Photography Industry



France’s Ministry of Culture and Communication has published a new report on the state of the photography industry in the country. The study contains numbers that offer an idea of how professional photography has changed over recent years.

The 22-page report is the result of a survey given between December 2013 and December 2014 that included 3,000 of France’s estimated 25,000 professional photographers.

In the introduction, the authors note that the Internet has made huge impacts on the photography market over the past 15 years, including “an unprecedented inflation in the availability of photographs, market deregulation, and an undermining of the legal protections for artists’ rights.”

The market has also seen big demographic changes. In the decade-and-a-half between 1995 and 2010, the number of photographers in France grew by 37% while the number of professional artists as a whole grew by only 16%. Much of that growth came from women: while male photographers saw a 25% increase, female photographers exploded by 85% in that same time frame.


Many photographers are finding it difficult to make a living. 43% of photographers in 2013 reported earning less than the equivalent of $16,500 annually. Only 24% made more than ~$33,000. 55% of photographers also reported seeing their income drop over the past few years. That may be why two out of three French photographers supplement their income by teaching photography or a related skill.

In terms of how photographers are paid, 17% earn a fixed and regular salary, while 75% earn based on commission. Just 4% report earning most of their photography income by selling their work in art galleries.

It seems that although photographers are discouraged by the state of the industry, they’re generally sticking to it. 63% of surveyed photographers indicated a pessimistic view for the future of their industry, but only 6% said they were planning to change professions.

You can download the report for yourself here (in French). Hyperallergic has also published a great summary of notable numbers that are found in the study.

Image credits: Header photograph by Hernán Piñera, photographer portrait by Salvatore Gerace