The business of photos

Most photographers think about the long term prospects of making a living taking photos. Most seem to migrate towards the known large segments of photography work.

While looking at the commercial opportunities it became very clear that wedding photography is arguably one of the largest markets available to the commercial photographer. It is unfortunately also one of the most crowded.

Lets do some quick googling for results.

  • “wedding photographer” 6 million and 139 thousand in South Africa.
  • “portrait photographer”  1.1 million and 11 thousand in South Africa
  • “landscape photographer”  241 thousand and 2 thousand in South Africa
  • “lifestyle photographer” 156 thousand  and 5 thousand in South Africa
  • “pet photographer” 459 thousand and 4 thousand in South Africa
The results are interesting, and slightly surprising. Weddings is at the top as expected and portrait a distant second.
So I did some other searches. This time for photos, not photographers.
  • “wedding photos” returns 4290000 and 40800 for South Africa
  • “portrait photographer” returns 278000 and 2670 for South Africa
  • “landscape photographer” returns 515000 and 2130 for South Africa
  • “lifestyle photographer” returns 96000 and 200 for South Africa
  • “pet photographer” returns 606000 and 1390 for South Africa

Now once again the results are interesting. I expect lifestyle to be higher but the low numbers could be an indication of the privacy of the photography rather than the lack of photos and pet photos is higher than I expect.

Now I’ve done some calculations on the numbers. It’s pretty simple, and I make no claim to anything related to economics, but it’s still interesting.

I compared the South Africa results against the World results as a percentage. This is a percentage of the world results for photographers:

  • “wedding photographer” 2.31%
  • “portrait photographer” 1.00%
  • “landscape photographer” 0.82%
  • “lifestyle photographer” 3.20%
  • “pet photographer” 0.87%

South Africa have high percentage on wedding and lifestyle photographers and low on the landscape and pet photographers.

Next we compared the world total for photos against  photographer as a percentage :

  • “wedding photos” 71%
  • “portrait photos” 25%
  • “landscape photos” 213%
  • “lifestyle photos” 61%
  • “pet photos” 132%

The high percentages here are landscape and pet photos, while portrait is very low compare to lifestyle and weddings.

Lastly I compared the South Africa photos against the world as a percentage

  • “wedding photos” 29%
  • “portrait photos” 24%
  • “landscape photos” 138%
  • “lifestyle photos” 4%
  • “pet photos” 34%

Landscape is highest percentage, while lifestyle is lowest, while wedding and portrait photos are in the same range and pets slightly higher.

Now who knows what all these numbers mean. I can only draw my own conclusions. I highly recommend you don’t follow them are truth, or even close to a fairly decent analysis, but I think I see some “trends” of my own.

  • Weddings are a high interest field but it’s also very crowded and there is high demand.
  • Portraits are very general interest field with general crowding and interest. Likely a staple field in photography.
  • Landscapes has the least interest but also the least crowded. Finding a market for your products can be very tough but worthwhile
  • Lifestyle has the most interest, low crowding but growing fast If you can make a name for yourself it could be very rewarding.
  • Pets is the interesting one for me. There is relatively low interest field with low crowding, but there also seems to high demand.

Maybe there is something to be said for mans best friends and capturing those friendships and the business of photography.

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2 Responses to The business of photos

  1. Which is why I’m getting quite a lot of requests for family photos with pets. And in fact the wedding I’m doing in April has got dogs for bridesmaids :))

    • photoslave says:

      Sadly for the sake of the post I could not find it, but I read an article where they claimed pet photography to be the biggest growing sector in photography in the USA.

      Pretty amazing actually.

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