The Future of the Photography Industry Chapter 5: The changing face of photography


Only the ignorant would fail to recognise the changing nature of the photography industry in the current world. Just a few years ago, we were accustomed to 2D technology in the photography sector, but this is now becoming an outdated expertise. This is simply one example of many changes which have happened in this area and forced the industry to re-adjust appropriately to remain relevant to the public. Therefore, as a significant player in this sector, it is crucial to recognise the most pertinent trends to watch out for to be prepared for the next big thing in this sector.

Chapter 5 of 5:

Trends to watch out for

Considering the fluid nature of the photography market, it is vital to remain updated on the most probable happenings in the future of this industry. This way, it would be easier to grab opportunities when they present themselves and also respond appropriately to imminent threats which might kick out the unprepared from the market. With that said, the following are the trends to watch out for in photography industry:

1. Low barriers to entry

Barriers to entry entail the challenges that owners face when establishing their businesses. If the difficulty is easy to overcome, then the market is identified as having a low barrier to entry.

Currently, the only significant barrier to entry for the photography market is considered to be the EU General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), which came in to place in 2018. This regulation acts as a watchdog for how companies and individuals deal with personal data for their clients and therefore aims to guard people within the EU region from data malpractices. This act thus influences how photography is implemented, especially the aftermath of a photo or film session. Hence, through this act, photographers are supposed to have a robust data protection system to uphold the privacy, confidentiality, and the dignity of the data collected through taking of pictures or films. However, this only applies to those photos and or films which reveal personal data such as faces and also biometric information in the case of high-resolution recordings in High Definition (HD) quality.

For UK residents, this entry barrier is likely to be scrapped upon realisation of Brexit. Therefore, should Brexit become successful, photographers in the UK will not be legally tied to invest in data protection systems. Instead, they will only do it as part of ethics rather than as a provision of the law. However, this will depend on whether the UK government will come up with another law which will legally bind photographers as a replacement of the GDPR.

2. Use of stock photography

Stock photography is a term used to describe photos of a common phenomenon which can be bought and sold on a royalty-free basis and used for commercial design purposes. Under this form of photography, the photographer holds exclusive rights of all images with the commercial designer having only limited uses of the images provided. There are two categories of stock photography: royalty-free and rights-managed photography.

Rights-managed photography licenses are provided through a specific procedure which includes the time of use, how and where they will be used, image quality and size, and exclusivity. These licenses are a bit more expensive than the royalty-free counterparts; however, they enable a broader usage. Mostly, companies can use the right-managed stock photographs, which imply that firms or agencies can use similar images for the duration of the license.

The royalty-free licenses enable mass usage of photographs for free, which implies that a photographer can license an image that will be used several times. People can advertise using the same image, but higher usage will lead to an additional payment. The photos are also not exclusive, and this means that other firms can utilise the same image at the same time.

Generally, the demand for stock photography is likely to increase in future as businesses consider this method to be cost-effective as compared to hiring a photographer directly. Therefore, with this approach, companies can advertise and realise their marketing needs at a small budget.

3. Technology investment

Technology is the throbbing heart of the photography industry and every professional photographer has to adhere to its changing nature if he/she has to survive in this sector. Therefore, with the ever-changing technology of taking films and pictures, the future of this sector can be perceived to have increased investment in technology. This is where photographers will be forced by circumstances to purchase sophisticated equipment which will be able to meet the evolving demands of customers.

Additionally, the advent of augmented reality and artificial intelligence only serve to create more opportunities throughout the industry for those who are able to capitalise on it.

4. Electronic distribution of images

Just like other types of information, images have entered what is referred to as the ‘electronic age’, which can be dated back to 1981 when Sony Corporation announced a filmless electronic camera known as Mavica. Mavica is the abbreviation for the Magnetic Video Camera. This camera could record 50 analogue images on a diskette using a still video system. The images were played back on the monitor from where they were printed on a plain or photographic paper with a colour computer or a standard black and white printer. However, the majority of these cameras have been replaced by more advanced ones, and the need for printed images is continues to decline as people and organisations strive to save money by limiting the paperwork. Therefore, as more people become sensitive to their budgets, and the adoption of computer technology increases, the electronic distribution of images will only become rampant. This, therefore, is a call to action for professional photographers to familiarise themselves with different electronic distribution channels to retain their relevance and competitiveness in the future photography environment.

5. Financial forecasts

Back in 2015, the demand for digital photography had been estimated to be roughly $77.66 billion with this figure expected to increase to $110.79 billion by the year 2021. The growth within this period can be attributed to advanced networking sites and photo-sharing media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. Furthermore, applications such as the Adobe Photoshop and other photo editing software are also increasing the demand of the digital photography.

The financial future of the industry is promising and likely to surpass the projected $110.79 figure by the end of 2021. It is good to note that the annual projected revenue growth is expected to be above 1.3% with commercial photography expected to dominate the most. All these positive future projections are due to favourable operations in this industry which is currently characterised by reduced barriers to entry.

What strengths must a photography business have to succeed in the industry?

Being successful in the photography industry is more than just mastering the camera and owning the latest gears. You also require to have qualities that will allow you to perceive beauty even in the rarest places and capture that in a photograph or film. So what strengths must a photography business have to succeed in the industry? It depends on the niche you are in. Every niche will demand different strengths, considering the environment is different. However, some strengths are universal and cut across all photography niches. These strengths are:

Creativity and Imagination:

Photography is a form of art which requires the highest level of creativity possible. Therefore, as a professional photographer, you should be able to perceive something and interpret it in different ways and convey that capturing both beautiful and meaningful photos.

Have a keen eye for detail: As a photographer, it is always important to be keen on detail to ensure all elements of a photo are perfectly blended to convey the appropriate vision and or message. This way, it will be possible to preserve the integrity of a certain photography brand as a slight mistake in this industry can ruin everything.

Patience and flexibility:

Regardless of how keen or committed you are to your photography work; sometimes things won’t happen as per the plan. Some days your clients will be demanding, or your camera will fail to give the best results. Whatever will come your way, patience (a lot of it) is crucial to realise the desired results. You have to be patient enough to continue trying until you get the right shot. Apart from patience, you also have to be flexible. In this, you need to be flexible enough to make the best from undesirable or unexpected situations.

What weaknesses should a photography business overcome?

Copyrights infringements:

This is one of the most excessive weakness which the photography industry is currently facing. With the advancement in technology, it has become easy for third parties to steal copyrights- protected photos and later use them as theirs. Therefore, there needs to be a robust mechanism in place to be applied in the protection of the images.

Marketing challenges:

As a beginner in this field, it is somehow challenging to realise brand awareness owed to many players in this area. Therefore, achieving substantial publicity is not easy and consequently dedicated efforts and strategies have to be adopted.

Inconsistent income:

Variable income is one of the most challenging aspects in photography business. It is almost impossible to predict how much one is going to make at any given month, which can affect the planning of a company and many other parameters.


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