Photography Pros and Enthusiasts Are Optimistic About 2014 Earnings

2014outlook-Professional photographers and photography enthusiasts are optimistic about their ability to make more money this year from photography. That’s one finding reported in PhotoShelter’s new report “The Photographer’s Outlook on 2014.”

The report is based on the results of a survey of business goals, aspirations, and priorities that PhotoShelter conducted via e-mail in November, 2013. More than 5,700 photographers responded, with 73 percent from the U.S.Sixty-nine percent of the respondents were male; and 31 percent were female. 

The survey also investigated the differences and similarities between photography pros (those who make most of their income from photography) and photo enthusiasts (those who earn less than 50 percent of their income from photography).

The report notes that because pro-level gear and photographic education is so readily accessible to everyone, it can be difficult to tell whether an image has been made by someone who makes their full income from photography or someone who spend their free time shooting photographs.

“Today, every creative taking professional-quality images is not necessarily doing so as a full-time photographer,” says Andrew Fingerman, CEO of PhotoShelter.

PhotoShelter posed different sets of questions to photography pros and those who categorized themselves as enthusiasts (students, part-time photographers, hobbyists/enthusiasts). For example, enthusiasts were asked what their primary occupation was and if (and how) they ever made money from their work. Professionals answered questions about how they bring in revenue and what tools they use to conduct their business.

Similarities between Pros and Enthusiasts

One key finding was that most professionals and enthusiasts will invest time and money to improve their technical skills and photo-business knowledge. The survey suggests they also plan to attend more industry events and spend more time marketing their work. Both groups said they pursue more than one specialty (96% for professionals and 95% for enthusiasts). The most popular primary specialty is portrait photography (13% for pros; 11% for enthusiasts).

In terms of making money, the biggest challenge faced by both groups was finding new clients. To improve their chances of getting more jobs, many will focus most on word-of-mouth referrals and social media.

Differences between Pros and Enthusiasts

Not surprisingly, photographers who make a living from photography are more focused on marketing their work.

  • 92 percent of professionals have a website dedicated to showcasing their photography, whereas only 65 percent of enthusiasts do.
  • 48 percent of professionals use Facebook as the primary social network to market their photography business, whereas 64 percent of enthusiasts do.
  • 93 percent of professionals plan to make investments to improve their photography skills in 2014, compared to 79 percent of enthusiasts.

One stat worth noting is that 84 percent of the enthusiasts said they had made money from their images. Of the enthusiasts who made money, 87 percent said the money was earned through print sales or commissioned assignments.

The Photographer’s Outlook on 2014 is the latest in PhotoShelter’s ongoing series of free business guides for photographers and marketing professionals. PhotoShelter’s library includes 30+ educational guides including topics such as creating a successful photography portfolio, email marketing, and starting a photography business. All can be downloaded free.

About PhotoShelter

PhotoShelter helps people and organizations who are passionate about their photos do more with them. From creating beautiful websites and securely backing up their best images to building an audience and selling photos online, PhotoShelter is trusted by over 80,000 enthusiasts, freelancers, and established pros worldwide.


The Photographer’s Outlook on 2014 Survey Results

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