Industry News

Photo Industry Report Suggests Photographers are Persevering 

April 27, 2023

By Theano Nikitas

Courtesy of Zenfolio

State of the Photography Industry Survey Report Q1 2023 

Zenfolio and Format just released their fourth State of the Photography Industry Survey Report. Of the 2,248 total respondents from 78 countries, 69% were from the U.S. The majority of other participants were from the U.S. Globally, the second highest rate of participants were in Europe. A variety of other countries were also represented.  

About 88% of respondents identified themselves as professionals in the photo industry, mostly photographers/videographers. About 1% were educators, editors, studio managers and assistants while the remainder considered themselves to be hobbyists and students. Almost 50% of full-time self-employed participants specialized in Portrait, Wedding and Commercial photography and 65% of respondents have more than 10 years’ experience.  

Overall, in 2022 business was slower than expected for 39.4% of survey participants while 27.2% reported no decline or increase in business. Only 19.4% said that their business was busier than anticipated. 

Effects from the pandemic continued to have lingering economic impacts on the photo industry in 2022, although not as extreme as in 2021. Only 12.5% of respondents reported an increase in revenue (up only 0.5% from 2021) but 17.1% experienced no reduction in revenue vs. 2021’s 11.8%. In 2021’s survey, a 40% decline in revenue was noted by 43.6% of respondents, and only 25.4% experienced a 40% drop in revenue for 2022. Almost 60% of photographers said they did not change the products or services offered in 2022. 

In response to global inflation (at least in part) about 31.7% of respondents raised their prices between 2-10% vs. 38.3% that did not raise prices. Many photographers were optimistic about 2023 with 75% forecasting that their businesses would either remain steady (43.3%) or become busier (32.5%). While this positive outlook is heartening, 89% of photographers in 2021 were more hopeful as they projected steady or increased business for 2022.  

Not surprisingly, mirrorless cameras—and phone cameras—are increasingly used for stills and video. DSLR cameras still dominate photographers’ gear bags at 52% but mirrorless cameras are rapidly catching up at 41.4%. Although phone cameras are used for both stills and videos, they represent a tiny portion of capture devices. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a mainstay in editing software (and elsewhere in the photo industry), with most applications featuring at least some AI-assisted automated features and processes. Photographers’ reactions to AI are mixed with about 40.3% of survey participants saying they have both negative and positive feelings about AI. Others have positive (20.2%), negative (11.2%), no opinion (15.1%) or no knowledge about AI (13.1%). While some appreciate that AI can have a positive effect on workflow and creativity, others worry that this automated process will devalue the individual skills and experience they bring to a project. 

The State of the Photography Industry reports valuable insight for photographers on a variety of other topics as well. You can access the full report here