Technology continues to upend traditional photography practices and powerhouses. For example, Eastman Kodak, in business since 1892 and famous for its photographic film, has in recent years been forced to discontinue its well-known color film Kodachrome due to declining sales. Other photography-related businesses have also refocused their efforts on the exploding digital camera and image editing market.
Understanding industry trends and knowing the numbers below will help you approach your photography career with greater intelligence and insight.
- Photographers hold just over 61,000 jobs in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This number is a sharp decline from 2002, when 130,000 photographers held jobs in the U.S.
- Over half of all photographers are self-employed; a much higher proportion than other occupations
- Salaried workers tend to be in technical, scientific, or commercial photography. Newspapers, magazines, television broadcasters, and advertising firms employ most of the others.
- Nevada has the highest concentration of photographers.
- Photographers in Minnesota earn on average the most compared to other states -- $51,740
- Photographers in the San Francisco area make the most -- $62,470 (though this may be in response to the higher cost of living there).
- Competition for jobs is fierce, since there are more talented and qualified photographers than there are jobs.
- Most photographers use digital cameras, though many use both digital and traditional film.
- Film continues to be especially popular with black-and-white photography artists.
- Employment projections are average through 2016.
- Those skilled at operating a business, who are creative, and who have a unique skill or talent in electronics or computers have the most promising job prospects.
- Many people start out by working for an experienced photographer – this is valuable experience and can help the apprentice make important connections, even if the pay is low for a few years.