2020 officially sucks. According to a survey and report* by Currys PC World and Canon, nearly a fifth of photographers are considering a change of career due to their loss of income in this last year. The two companies teamed up to look back on what the year meant for the photography industry, as well as, what position it has left photographers in and what is predicted for the future. The sectors hit the hardest by a loss of income are newborn baby, family and wedding photography, with 96% of related businesses seeing a decrease in bookings over the past year, mainly as a result of the pandemic and the various lockdowns.

The report also reveals that there are over 8000 photography business in the UK, with the average salary for a UK photographer being £42,212 a year (wedding photographers charge the highest day-rate, averaging £600 for a day’s work).

Wedding photographers were making good money until the ‘annus horribilis’ of 2020

The most hashtagged type of photography on Instagram is #travelphotography (133.5m), followed by #foodphotography (65.5m) and #portraitphotography (47.6m). Despite the tough times faced by many photography businesses this year, the report reckons the photographic services market is expected to recover and reach $41 billion (approximately £31 billion) in 2023.

Travel has always been a popular genre, but again, travel photography businesses were hammered in 2020. “I’m thinking of how I can expand my work and skills and diversify into other areas of photography and visual media,” says travel photographer Annapurna Mellor.

Based on Google Trends data quoted in the report, January is the most popular month that people search for a wedding photographer, but things are still very much up in the air with the virus. Vaccine roll-out or not, the market is likely to be disrupted well into next year.

It is also interesting to see food photography growing in importance. According to food photographer, Robin Goodlad, “Instagram is a great way of getting specifically targeted images to the right audiences.” He also has some interesting comments on getting started. “The beauty of photography is that you can build your portfolio as your qualification. I went down the self-taught route, but also attended some workshops in areas that were of interest and utilised the numerous online resources available today.”

The popularity of the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition shows this genre is growing in popularity and commercial influence. Credit: Donna Crous

As for the future, the report adds: “Pioneering mirrorless camera technology is currently big in the industry, capable of capturing images quicker and quieter than DSLRs. This said, DSLRs continue to be widely used by professionals, thanks to its a wider range of lenses and an optical viewfinder that offers clarity and lag-free viewing. Developments in photography technology are now focusing on improved video quality (6k and 8k resolution), better AI functionality, and advanced immersive 3D photography. Exciting times are about to come into frame!”

This rather sweeping statement seems a bit behind the curve – the lag on mirrorless electronic viewfinders has improved a lot , for example, as has shutter dampening on DSLRs – but the increasing video prowess of higher-end mirrorless model such as the Canon EOS R5 (below) will certainty be a big help to event photographers and portrait businesses eager to diversify their offering.  Watch out for a major feature on making photography a new year career in our January 9th issue. Subscribe here to save time and money.

* Methodology
Ahrefs search volume and Instagram hashtag data were collected on the 23.10.2020.

Average day rates were collected from Bidvine on the 20.10.2020.

Average photography salary and average national salary were collected from Adzuna and Jobted on the 20.10.2020.

Diploma figures were collected from the Institute of Photography on 20.10.2020.

Further reading
Food photography projects
Telling stories with wedding photography