Study Finds Photographers Believe the Industry is Returning to Normal

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The pandemic hit photographers particularly hard as public get-togethers and events paused for the better part of two years. It appears now that things are improving, and a new study of 3,300 global photographers shows a majority of optimism.

The State of the Photography Industry Survey was performed by Zenfolio and Format. The first iteration of the study was conducted in February of 2021 and repeated again later that May. Zenfolio and Format say the goal of the study is to continue to track the impact of the pandemic, the business adjustments photographers have made, and look at industry trends to assist in navigating the future outlook for the industry.

The full study, published on Zenfolio, found widespread positive trends that appear to point to the industry as successfully emerging from the pandemic and a return to normal.

Methodology and Useful Data

Zenfolio and Format surveyed 3,398 photographers in 97 countries. 71% of responses were from the United States, United Kingtom, Canada, and Australia, and the United States accounted for more than half by itself. Among the smallest and most remote countries
represented were Trinidad and Tobago, Equatorial Guinea, and Lesotho.

Full and part-time self-employed photographers made up 71% (coincidently) of respondents while photography hobbyists, students, and employees constituted the remaining balance. The companies say that the data reflects the views of photography veterans as over half of those surveyed said they had more than 10 years of experience.

The study provides a snapshot of how photography businesses primarily earn income as well, shown in the chart below:

Photography survey 2022

It also shows how many photographers are also offering video services, often considered to be a growing business segment. Of note, most photographers surveyed are sticking 100% to photography.

Photography survey 2022

“Over 83% of photographers disclosed that they work with three or fewer types of clients, with 37% saying that they work with just one type. The vast majority of clients are categorized as individuals or small/medium businesses, while enterprise, institutions, publications, and agencies comprise the rest,” the survey notes.

Widespread Optimisim for a Return to Normal

After what the survey found to be a “slower than expected 2021,” survey respondents expressed cautious optimism about the current year’s business climate.

“In the survey from May of 2021, 49% said they expected their photography business to get stronger in the upcoming months, up from only 37% in the previous February survey,” the survey says. “However, in the newest survey, 64% reported that business ended up disappointingly slower than expected, due primarily to COVID impact.”

Photography survey 2022

That said, there was a minority of shooters who said their 2021 was actually busier than anticipated: 23% of full-time and 14% of part-time photographers.

Photography survey 2022

Photography survey 2022

Despite the mixed feelings on 2021, 57% now say they feel “good” about the rest of 2022 and expect business to pick up, while 32% believe business will remain at current levels (steady), and a minority of 11% expect a decline. Zenfolio and Format believe the information and trends found in the study indicate that the industry is emerging from the devastating business environment that was the pandemic. While that’s one possible take, it should be noted that as stated above, many photographers felt optimistic at this same time in 2021.

The full study can be downloaded from Format.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.