Breaking Down Photography Insights from 2020 to Project Trends for 2021

British electronics retailer Currys has published a comprehensive breakdown of insights it collected on the state of photography in 2020 using various statistical methods and sought input from three experts to forecast the troubled photography industry going forward.

In its full report here, Currys investigates the challenges the photography industry faced in the last year and attempts to forecast what the market might do in the next couple of years. The information was presented to three experts: travel photographer Annapurna Mellor, food and wedding photographer Robin Goodlad, and wedding photographers Glenn and Lauren of Through The Woods We Ran. As Currys is based in the United Kingdom, its numbers and statistics are specific to the region. Still, the information provided should be useful regardless of your country.

It goes without saying that the photography industry has struggled in 2020 thanks to the proliferation of COVID-19 coronavirus. Currys puts the general sentiment into numbers: about 96% of photographers saw a decrease in bookings over the past year. The global photographic services market is expected to decline from $36.9 billion in 2019 to $36.1 billion at the conclusion of 2020. Though only a decrease of about $800 million, the data likely takes into consideration stock photography which very likely saw a boom this past year, though stock photography’s success very rarely translates to meaningful growth for individual photographers.

The sectors hit the hardest by a loss of income are newborn baby, family, and wedding photography. Wedding photography though seems poised for a boom in 2021, as many of the weddings that were postponed have been moved forward a year. Travel photography has also seen a hit, as expected, but its recovery is very likely less predictable than for wedding shooters.

A method that some photographers have used to weather tough times has been finding profitable niches and leveraging them. Currys looked into what the most in-demand niches were and when they were showing the highest interest based on income statistics, search engine volume, and Instagram popularity.

Based on Google Trends data, January is the most popular month that people search for a wedding photographer. Likewise, the report cites that portrait photography interest spiked in December. Sports, family, and food photography saw upticks in interest in September, while landscape and animal/wildlife photography interest saw increases in October. Travel peaked in August, and fashion photography trended up in February.

This data might be helpful for photographers looking to strategically place their marketing going into 2021.

If you are looking to adjust your niche to better adapt to the market’s needs, Currys’ pointed to a few specific niches that have done well. Currys determined that the average photographer salary is £42,212 (~$56,382), which is higher than the average household income in the UK of £29,600 (~$39,536). The organization’s research revealed that wedding photographers have the highest average daily rate, earning £600 (~$800) for a full day.

So while wedding photography took a major hit in 2020, its likely rebound in 2021 and 2022 makes it a prime target for photographers who want to expand their businesses.

Wedding photography was followed by landscape, food, and travel photography, all ranking above an average of £400 (~$535) per day. On the other end of the scale, portrait, animal, and family photography earned the least with an average of £150 (~$200) per day. This information may be helpful in determining how to adjust your photography business going into 2021 to maximize your business. Even though $200 a day would be pretty great if it were consistent, the contract-based nature of the photography industry means it’s very unlikely for someone to be working five days a week. As a result, choosing to work in niches that have a higher daily average payout would result in a far more stable business strategy.

“The online trade increased massively, and I was able to provide plenty of product photography,” Goodlad says. “This was alongside writing and photographing recipes, which I was able to carry out alone in my home studio. This work has been my salvation this year and I think diversification is the key to survival.”

“In travel, there was a huge shift a few years ago towards ‘inspirational’ imagery, the type of thing you see very often on social media – influencers posing in front of views and the same images of the same places again and again,” Mellor says with regards to travel photography. “But I have noticed that clients have got bored of this kind of repetitive photography and have been looking for more authentic images that capture the true essence of the places we travel to. Travel is always about the people you meet; the stories and cultures of a place and I hope that travel storytelling continues to move in this direction after the pandemic.”

The report is full of some interesting information and worth perusing. You can read it in its entirety here.

Image credits: Header images by Alif Ngoylung, Colette Allen, and Mae Mu.

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