by Dave Good
The very foundation of the business of photography remains in flux. An election year in a struggling economy, coupled with affordable digital
technology and the market shift away from point-and-shoots to the instant gratification of phone
cameras spells changing tides ahead.
“These are tough times for working photographers,” writes ASMP
general counsel Victor S. Perlman in the April WPPI newsletter.
He blames two primary sources: increased competition from
amateurs, and the rapid growth of social media and Internet photo
sharing. “All of this,” he writes, “has created an enormous supply of
photographs that increases daily at an ever-expanding rate.”
The biggest hit thus far has been to standard portraiture,
according to IBISWorld. With digital cameras in more than 66
percent of households in the U.S. and limited discretionary
funds, IBIS describes a “dulled enthusiasm for portraits” and a
marked increase in the uploading of homemade portraits taken
with digital cameras or camera phones. Still, portrait revenue is
expected to rebound this year as the economy slowly recovers.
And even though CPI Corporation (which runs Sears portrait
studios, for example) reported an 18 percent loss in revenues last
year, it—and portrait giant Lifetouch—are expected to grow at an
annual rate of 1.8 percent over the next five years.
Info Trends says amateur and weekend shooters continue to go
pro and compete with existing shops. Ed Lee is the group director of Info Trends Worldwide Consumer and Professional Imaging
Services. “The number of female photographers has
grown,” he says. Now it’s a 2/3-to-1/3 split of males to females,
a pickup from last year.” Forty percent of them are part time,
while 28 percent, he says, are full time. “And it’s a younger female
at that,” he says. “Age 45, and younger,” according to the 2011
& 2012 Info Trends Professional Photographer Study.
“It comes down to the economy,” Lee says. “With families still struggling, people are turning to part-time photography as a way to bring
money into the home.” He sees the photo business as a changing
of the guard. “The average age of the full-time male photographer
is 50. The average age of the full-time female photographer is 41.”
The implication is that more full time male photographers are retiring.
“You’re going to see a shifting towards an even higher percentage
The average age of
the full-time male
The average age of
the full-time female
number of photos
stored on private
hard drives or