State of the 2014 Photography Industry

This article is for those who currently are earning profit (or attempting to) from the photography industry. If photography is just a hobby, enjoy it, but don't expect it to provide a profitable income without a large amount of effort.

Peaceful SolitudeIf the music industry refused to change, they'd be out of business. Many record companies refused to change, and these companies are now out of business. The change in the music industry has been drastic. First, there were records. These became outdated and were replaced by the radio, then tapes, and then CDs. Now we mostly listen to media through devices such as smart-phones and personal computers. A large percentage of music is purchased online. The photography industry has also been changing, and we must change with it. Websites such as have their similarities with stock photography websites.

The primary challenge for professional photographers is over-saturation of the market. The main technological breakthrough was the transition from film to digital. Because good photographs are easier to take, more people are taking them. However, this does not leave professional photographers altogether out of business.

The “auto setting” on cameras is still not as powerful as a human mind that has a basic understanding of camera settings. A professional (or even amateur) photographer who understands their camera can take much better photographs than the “auto” shooter. If a photographer adds compositional and image editing skills to this, they will be a better photographer than about 98% of people.

Still, there are plenty who have reached this level. Those who are going to stay in the business MUST set themselves apart. Let's look at four of the possibilities (There are more that are not listed here).

  1. Creativity

    This of course is basic. Amazingly, very few photographers stray from the norm. Look at most portrait photographers. There is an amazing similarity between most portraits. Using creativity will set apart a great photographer apart from a good photographer.

  2. Personal Skills

    Almost all genres of photography involve working closely with clients. Even those who photograph products should work closely with the designers to understand their purpose, goals, and target market. People want to communicate with a real person – not a robot.

  3. Ease of Use

    People shouldn't have to search for half an hour to find how to contact you. Unless you are simply the best photographer alive, people will likely enough go to another photographer. The same things applies to websites and other media. It should be simple and straight to the point, yet keeping a friendly tone.

  4. Genre

    If hobbyists enjoy the genre of photography, professional photographers will generally have a hard time making a living because of over-saturation. The stock photography market is being filled with amateurs who are willing to earn a couple cents per photograph. The sale of landscape photography prints is ever-declining. There still is a steady need for product and commercial product photography. As far as portraiture, photographers might have a chance if they keep their photographs above the competition of amateur photographers.


Differentiate and choose the right genre of photography to survive as a full-time photographer. Understand your market and be an expert at it, using new technology when needed. Only the best at their art will be able to continue making a successful living – but it is definitely possible.

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