The state of the photo industry in 2022


MENLO PARK, Calif., April 25, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — According to a survey of more than 3,300 photographers worldwide last March, trends clearly show the industry emerging from the fog of COVID as many aspects of society and business return too normal. Since the first State of the Photography Industry Survey conducted and repeated in February 2021 May 2021, Zenfolio and format Continue to follow the impact of the pandemic, business adjustments being made, industry trends and photographers’ future prospects. Let’s drill down and see what the data reveals…

Download the full report of the state of the photographic industry.

Photographers we interviewed

The March 2022 survey reflects feedback from 3,398 photographers in 97 countries around the world. 71% of the responses came from the US, UK, Canada and Australia, with the US accounting for more than half. The smallest and most distant countries represented included Trinidad & Tobago, Equatorial Guinea and Lesotho.

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Full-time and part-time freelance photographers also made up 71% of respondents, with hobbyists, students and employees making up the rest. The data reflects the views of an experienced group, with more than half of the survey participants reporting more than 10 years of experience.

Optimism… with a warning light

Optimism... with a warning light @ 2x

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After a “slower than expected” year in 2021, survey participants are cautiously optimistic about the business climate in the current year. While a solid 89% reflects an overall bullish view on business this year, a closer look reveals a spectrum of sentiment.

In the May 2021 survey, 49% said they expect their photography business to grow in the coming months, up from just 37% in the previous February survey. However, in the latest survey, 64% said business was disappointingly slower than expected, largely due to the impact of COVID.

Photographers and business growth in 2022

The latest survey shows that 57% feel good about the rest of 2022 as they expect activity to get busier, while 32% expect it to remain stable and just 11% from their current level of activity go out. Let’s look at more about the effects of COVID later.

Free download, full report to view the breakdown of this data by photography specialty, location, employment status and client type.

About the business of the business

The primary photography specializations reported in the March 2022 survey were highly diversified across 15 reported genres. While the leading genre was to be expected, the second and third largest categories were surprisingly positioned:

Top 3 photographer specializations for 2022

  1. Portraits – 19.3%
  2. Landscape – 11.4%
  3. Wedding – 8.7%

Visual arts followed at 7.6% and then a close group were events, sports, documentaries and commercials, all scoring 6.3-6.5% each. Fashion/Beauty, Wildlife, Family and Travel came with ever smaller pieces of the cake.

About the business of the Business@2x

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Over 83% of photographers reported working with 3 or fewer client types, with 37% reporting only working with one type. The vast majority of clients are categorized as individuals or small/medium sized businesses, while corporations, institutions, publications and agencies make up the rest.

How photographers find clients

When it comes to finding customers, classic word of mouth marketing is still the best method, while portfolio websites are the primary online customer acquisition tool. Instagram is the preferred social media channel to showcase work and reach a larger audience.

Sources for new customer acquisition@2x

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In which full report We look at how many specialties photographers focus on and how that affects their revenue, along with the types of advertising photographers use most often by specialty.

A look in the gear bag

The decades-long rivalry between Canon and Nikon was also evident in the survey results. With both brands evolving from film to digital to mirrorless technology, photographers of all levels, from novice to pro, are primarily drawn to these top two brands and Q1 2022 was no exception.

When it comes to photographers’ preferred camera brands, Canon and Nikon dominate the market with over 70%, followed by Sony and Fujifilm with 15% and 7% respectively. The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, Nikon D850 and Canon EOS R5 are the top 3 camera models used by the surveyed photographers.

  1. canon
  2. Nikon
  3. Sony
  4. Fujifilm

With zoom lenses taking precedence over primes, the top 3 preferred lens focal lengths paired with camera bodies were:

  1. 24-70mm
  2. 70-200mm
  3. 50mm

In which full reportfind out which cameras and lenses are preferred by the photography specialty and see what other photographers in your specialty are shooting with.

A look into the Gear Bag@2x

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Although most digital cameras can capture both still images and video, the survey shows that still photography is by far the primary medium for most respondents, with 64% capturing still images and 35% capturing a mix of still and video. Only 11% said they outsource video production to someone else. Online file transfer accounts for half of the logistics for video delivery.

Output_ still photography and video@2x

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The impact of COVID on photography

The pandemic-related business rollercoaster ride of 2021 has given way to a more consistent and optimistic outlook for 22, as outlined above. Now let’s look at who was most/least affected and how they kept their business afloat.

Respondents who identified as part-time self-employed were the most negatively affected during COVID, with nearly half reporting losing more than 40% of normal earnings in 2021. Full-time self-employed were similarly affected, with 43% losing more than 40% of their income. Full-time workers were the most isolated from COVID, with the largest proportion showing no impact or even improvement.

Nearly 55% of respondents affected by the pandemic said they are changing the way they conduct photoshoots, such as B. physical distancing. And 20% focused on generating online revenue, primarily by selling prints and downloads directly to customers or through online stores and marketplaces. Some also generated income from the sale of photography courses and training.

How Photographers Adapted@2x

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How Photographers Generate Online Revenue @2x

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The Impact of COVID on Photography@2x

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The Yield Report

As can be seen from the COVID Impact on Activity 2021 chart above, 23% of full-time and 14% of part-time photographers were indeed so, although the majority of photographers said business was slower than expected employee than expected. What activities brought in revenue for photographers during the year?

Almost 60% of those surveyed earned income from photo shoots or session fees. Respondents also generated revenue from online sales of prints and digital downloads. What is not to be expected is that online sales of prints and digital downloads will outpace in-store sales. This is likely due to COVID restrictions and the growing acceptance of online sales in general.

Download the Free Comprehensive PDF to see how photographers rank their revenue streams within a specific specialty.

The sales report@2x

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The natural immunity of photographers

Much like most businesses over the past two years, the photo industry has not been immune to negative impacts and operational challenges. However, when it came to “fight or flight” responses, photographers overall showed resilience, adapting and sticking to the craft and trade they love.

The May 2021 survey found that just 10% gave up photography as a full-time job… at the height of pandemic restrictions. Now, as typical events that benefit photography fill family, school and business calendars with gatherings, celebrations, conferences, school and sporting activities, hopefully photographers will benefit from a robust recovery in 2022. Zenfolio and format will monitor trends in the photo industry, ask questions and announce the results in the next survey. Stay tuned.


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