2024 State of Photography: Increased Use of AI and Mirrorless Cameras

Zenfolio State of the Photography Industry

Photography website and commerce platform Zenfolio has published its “2024 State of the Photography Industry” report, exploring the changing trends among photographers and their thoughts on significant topics like business and artificial intelligence.

Before diving into it, this year’s survey saw a massive 237% increase in total responses compared to last year, thanks in large part to collaboration with other brands, like Format, ShootProof, SLR Lounge, Professional Photographers of America (PPA), and Miller’s Professional Imaging. As for the sample, 78% of respondents are from North America, including 73% in the United States. 28% of all U.S. respondents hail from California, Texas, New York, and Florida. Nonetheless, 7,646 photographers from 102 countries participated.

Zenfolio State of the Photography Industry

Of these 7,646 photographers, 66.5% describe themselves as strictly a photographer, while 21.1% say they’re a photographer and videographer. The remaining 12.4% say they’re a hobbyist/enthusiast. The percentage of hybrid shooters increased from 17.4% last year. Another interesting note is that 47.9% of respondents say they are working for themselves full-time, an increase of 6.9 percentage points, year over year.

The survey also asks photographers about their specialties. The top three specialties for full-time self-employed photographers haven’t changed — they’re still portrait, wedding, and commercial, respectively. However, both portrait and wedding have carved out larger slices of the pie, while sports photography has taken a dip.

Zenfolio State of the Photography Industry

For part-time photographers, wildlife photography dropped out of the top six, and landscape photography took a hit, dropping from second to fourth position and losing nearly four percentage points.

77% of respondents are aged 40 and older, and 28% of responses came from photographers 60 years or older. Only 6.2% percent of respondents are under 30 years old. It could be more evident if this is because the photography industry itself features few young people, or if younger people are less likely to be captured in Zenfolio’s survey.

Zenfolio State of the Photography Industry

The survey also offers some fascinating insight into photography equipment preferences. In 2023, 52% of respondents shot with a DSLR camera, while 41.4% opted for mirrorless equipment. Just one year later, the proportions have flipped. 52.4% of photographers now shoot mirrorless, while 40.1% still work with a DSLR.

The age group that most prefer mirrorless cameras is the 30-39 segment, while on the youngest and oldest ends of the spectrum, mirrorless and DSLR use is pretty evenly split.

Zenfolio State of the Photography Industry

For photographers trying to earn money through photography, 2024 was similar to 2023. Roughly the same proportion of photographers thought business was busier, the same, or worse than the prior year — 21.5%, 29.5%, and 39.2%, respectively. There is a slight trend toward better business.

Like last year, the most lucrative genre of photography is wedding photography, with 23.3% of full-time photographers reporting gross revenues over $100,000. Sports photography is next, then portraiture.

Zenfolio State of the Photography Industry

Concerning how photographers earn money, digital files are a larger proportion of business than “all other products,” except, interestingly, in wedding photography. 52.6% of respondents offer mostly digital items to customers but also some print products. 24.2% exclusively sell digital products, while 4.1% sell just physical products, like prints.

Like last year, the 2024 survey also features questions concerning AI. Somewhat surprisingly, photographers think more positively about AI in 2024, with positive responses increasing by 7%.

Many photographers are using AI as part of their workflow now, primarily within various AI-powered photo editing features. Noise reduction, background removal, and auto-subject selection are the most popular uses of AI. Less than 10% of respondents say they use AI to generate images.
Zenfolio’s complete 2024 State of the Photography Industry report has a lot of incredible information beyond what is mentioned here, so head to Zenfolio to digest the complete details.

Image credits: Zenfolio