Holt Webb Art & Photography | State of the Photography Business - Part 1

State of the Photography Business - Part 1

February 26, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Here are the preliminary results of the State of the Photography Business Survey!

If you haven't taken the survey, you can find the link on this previous post: http://wp.me/p25Hc7-6y

The photography world has changed dramatically since the days of film, with the result that the ranks of photographers have grown exponentially and the market has become saturated with professionals and amateurs competing for the same work.

In an effort to understand the changing field and help photographers like myself make their livings doing what they love, I created a simple 10-question survey to determine how photographers conduct business. It's a very simple introductory questionnaire designed to get a feel for the field and open up the lines of communication for further research and discovery. I had promoted it here on WordPress, on Facebook and through my own broad circle of photographer friends and colleagues. Unfortunately, my reach isn't as broad as I had hoped... or, photographers prefer to figure this stuff out on their own. Whatever the reason, we only had 16 people take the survey, so the results are by no means comprehensive, but here is what the preliminary reports have to say.

Bear in mind that many of the responses will overlap. For example, when asked where they do the majority of their "outdoor shooting", all of the respondents replied that they shoot on location, while less than 7% of them also shoot outside at their home/studio.

So, here are the first round of results. Hopefully, this will encourage more photographers to take the survey and participate in follow-up surveys to fine tune the details of the market.

State of the Photography Business Survey

62.5% of photographers make more than 50% of their income through photography

Where do you work?
75% work from home
12.5% work in a studio
12.5% work in both their home/studio or on the road

Rent or Own?
31.25% rent
68.75% own

Indoor shoots
12.5% do most of their shoots in a studio
81.25% shoot on location
12.5% shoot both

Outdoor shoots
6.25% shoot at their home/studio
100% shoot on location
6.25% shoot at events

Selling online
68.75% sell their work online
31.25% do not sell their work online

6.25% use an agency
81.25% use social media
12.5% use direct mail
12.5% use the Yellow Pages
6.25% use newspaper ads
6.25% use magazine ads
37.5% use a combination of word of mouth

41.67% use Zenfolio
8.33% use Smugmug
8.33% use Fine Art America
8.33% use Pictures Pro
16.67% don't use a third-party site
25% use MorePhotos and Photoshelter

Driving business
87.5% word of mouth
31.25% social media
6.25% professional advertising
6.25% promotions
6.25% discounts
12.5% festivals/events
6.25% photo groups and clubs
6.25% photo expos and conferences
6.25% direct marketing

Staying up to date
43.75% read books
75% work with other shooters
43.75% watch tutorials
12.5% participate in online seminars
43.75% attend workshops
68.75% search online for inspiration
87.5% watch what other successful shooters are doing
12.5% experiment and get advice from friends

Obviously, these results are just skimming the surface, but they provide a glimpse into how photographers are making their living. They tell us that the overwhelming majority of photographers look to improve their skills (both in business and behind the camera) by doing online research. They also tell us that most work from home but shoot on location. Social Media and word of mouth are the most popular means of marketing (though whether they are successful or not will be determined by later surveys). And Zenfolio seems to be the more popular professional hosting site. Again, this is just a tiny sample of the thousands of shooters out there, but it's an interesting start.

Please share the survey with your photographer friends and we'll compile more data for a more comprehensive view.


We will also be setting up more surveys to better detail the successes and failures of photographers in this effort to help you make more money and improve your photography business. Don't worry... they'll only be short 10-question surveys. ;)

Stay tuned...


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