In a market shift that IBIS calls the “democratization of photography,” consumer-priced advanced digital cameras and post-production software have allowed amateurs to attain a higher level of quality. IBIS likewise thinks this is where the most
industry growth will take place—in the private sector, and not without affect.
For the established pro shooter, a decrease in consumer spending increases
the cost of providing services to each client while putting a dent in revenues.
Conversely, in a strange twist of business economics, photography startups
often flourish in the very same cash-lean climate. And part of the fuel behind the
growth of amateur startups is social media and Internet file sharing.
Digital in Bulk
Visual News.com says that we now take as many photos in just two minutes as
were taken during the entire 1800s. Per year, 380 billion photos are stored on private
hard drives or in online libraries such as Instagram, a relative newcomer with only
400 million images; Flickr, with six billion images; and the grand daddy of them all,
Facebook. As of this writing, 140 billion images have been stored on Facebook by
its users, who upload some 3,500 photos every second.
The greater majority of those uploads come from smartphones. Camera phones
have gained popularity at an astonishing clip, from 24 percent in 2011 up to 46 percent in 2012, according to Info Trends. In the U.K., sales of digital cameras
dropped by 29 percent in the last six years, according to the Irish Times,
while sales of smartphones and camera phones have more than quadrupled. Surveys taken across the pond describe a shift in consumer perception: given a choice,
convenience is valued over quality.
Smartphones are obviously killing the point-and-shoot business. Will manufacturers
eventually add Wi-Fi capabilities, or, will point-and-shoot cameras eventually just go
away? That is yet to be determined, say various industry reports (our panel of tech
writers make some predictions on page 68). But in the final analysis, are camera
phones and file sharing really having a measurable impact on commercial photography? Yes and no, says Lee, and not in ways you might think.
“The growth of camera phones and file sharing will only hurt the photographers
that aren’t doing a good job of self marketing,” he says. “Facebook, if done right,
should be a photographer’s online portfolio. Social media is definitely playing a
part in promoting business. Sixty seven percent of photographers we surveyed
said yes to having used Facebook, and 31 percent said they used Twitter,” Lee
says. Female shooters, he says, are much more likely to use social media to promote their businesses versus males. Info Trends shows that more than 80 percent
of females use Facebook, versus less than 60 percent of males. The percentage
of total photography business revenue generated from the use of the Web, says
Lee, is up slightly, from 28. 5 percent in 2011 to 30.1 percent in 2012.
number of photos
surveyed said “yes”
to having used
Source: 2011 & 2012 InfoTrends
Professional Photographer Study
surveyed said they
have used Twitter
Source: 2011 & 2012 Info Trends
Professional Photographer Study