In this chapter, we explore the product lines and key markets in the photography industry. Where are businesses in the photographic industry located and what products and services do they offer?
What services make up the photographic industry?
Services most commonly found in the photographic industry include still, video, or digital photography services, such as commercial and industrial photography, portrait photography, and special events photography.
In the UK and throughout Europe, services for public procurement are classified by CPV codes – a system which uses standardised vocabulary to help procurement personnel classify their contract notices consistently and to make it easier for suppliers to find such notices. Photographic services notices are found under the overall classification of ‘79000000: Business services: law, marketing, consulting, recruitment, printing and security’.
79960000-1 Photographic and ancillary services.
79961000-8 Photographic services.
79961100-9 Advertising photography services.
79961200-0 Aerial photography services.
79961300-1 Specialised photography services.
79961310-4 Downhole photography services.
79961320-7 Underwater photography services.
79961330-0 Microfilming services.
79961340-3 X-ray photography services.
79961350-6 Studio photography services.
79962000-5 Photograph processing services.
79963000-2 Photograph restoration, copying and retouching services.
The industry also includes support services including video editors and image re-touchers, as well as printing services.
Product Lines in the Photography Industry
In the US, the top 3 product lines – portrait, commercial and weddings – make up a huge 70% of revenue, whilst in the UK, the top two lines – weddings and other types of photography – make up less than 60% of revenue.
Commercial and industrial photography includes event photography; news and sport photography; publishing photography (books, magazines, etc); and other corporate images. In the UK, demand for this type of photography has declined over the past five years, largely impacted by the trend for sourcing stock photography to meet their needs.
There is a significant demand for portraiture photography in the US, where it is the top product line and accounts for more than 50% of revenue, compared with the more minimal 6% of UK revenue. However, this is a growing sector thanks to the rise of selfies and influencers.
School and Graduation
Those involved in this sector provide photography and videography services to schools and universities. The segment has grown over the past five years due to an increase in the number of students and those graduating from universities.
In the UK, wedding photography holds the largest share of the segments. New technology has allowed photographers to broaden their service offerings and the segment is mostly unaffected by the rise in amateur and hobby photographers due to the demand for quality and professionalism.
Photographic processing services traditionally included making prints of photos using negatives. However, new technology means these services now include canvas printing, retouching, colour management and data backup, for example. Whilst there has been a decrease in demand for the traditional processing services, it has largely been offset by the increase in digital processing, leading to a relatively stable revenue share.
Sales and Marketing in the Photography Industry
Of course, it’s all very well having a product to sell but how do photographers know where to market their businesses, how should they do it and what are the costs involved?
Private consumers are the largest market overall, accounting for more than a 50% share in the UK, with weddings being the main focus. The private sector accounts for another 43.5% and includes publishers, advertising agencies, estate agents, travel agencies and other private companies. The remainder of the market includes public-sector companies and not-for-profits.
In both the UK and US, the majority of businesses are focused around the capital cities – London in the UK and New York in the US – and other areas with large cities. These areas tend to be in more populated regions where there is a high concentration of commercial and industrial businesses which are important markets for the photography industry. Additionally, there tends to be higher levels of economic activity in these areas, making them attractive particularly for larger photography businesses.
With high levels of competition, marketing is essential to photography businesses. There are so many ways to reach customers these days that the need to stand out is more important than ever.
For major photography companies – of which there are many more in the US than the UK – retail outlets provide a cost-effective solution for providing [mostly modular] portrait studios, where they can also enhance their offering through providing special incentives such as coupons in newspapers and online.
Of course, there is no way to promote yourself without being online these days and the ever-expanding Internet of Things (IoT) provides endless possibilities. Key online marketing channels for photographers include:
Website – with 75% of people basing the credibility of a company on their website, it’s not hard to see why having a website is so important – particularly one that reflects the quality of the photographer’s work.
Social media – 54% of social browsers use social media to research products and services, with 71% of consumers who’ve had a good social media service experience recommending the brand. Responding quickly to queries and gaining recommendations through social media is an essential way for photographers to engage with both potential and existing customers.
Online portfolios – these can either be the photographer’s own website or created using an online portfolio site such as Flickr, SmugMug and Zenfolio, allowing the photographer to showcase their visual content – often arranged in categories.
In addition to the endless online opportunities for promotion, offline opportunities still exist through print advertising, newspaper/magazine coupons and targeted flyers. Some photographers also get involved with their local community, providing free or discounted services in exchange for credits and promotion.
Trade Shows present an extra opportunity, although the cost of exhibiting means that these opportunities lend themselves more to medium and large photography businesses, whose target audience is corporate buyers. Wedding fairs are another key area for promotion for those involved with the segment. Other opportunities for photographers to gain additional business is through referral programs or competitions and giveaways.
With marketing budgets and expenses increasing, photographers need to be creative in their marketing and advertising in this highly competitive market. Sole traders and smaller businesses tend to manage their own marketing, which can be expensive and stressful, while larger photography businesses may choose to outsource their marketing. Activities. Whatever the case, those not making the most of the opportunities presented will likely fall by the wayside, as more and more photographers share their portfolios online and build a following.
IBISWorld Industry Report M74.200 – Photographic Activities in the UK, September 2018
Kentley Insights – 2019 Market Research Report: Photographic Services, June 2019
15 Website & UX Statistics of 2018-2019 [UK Web Host Review]