State of the industry: Portrait and wedding photography

Written on April 22, 2011 by in For photographers only

This post is the first in a series sharing my thoughts about the state of the wedding and portrait photography industry and how we can all work together to make it better.

Courtesy of Denise Olson, MommyandMePhotography.com

Have you noticed change within the photographic industry over the past several years, but don’t know exactly what happened? Has your business suffered from competition, and you don’t know what to do about it? Wondering what’s really going on?

Here’s the deal: As a result of ongoing technological advancements in photographic equipment and marketing tools, as well as the increased availability and dissemination of high-quality instruction and informational products, the portrait and wedding photography industry is commoditizing. That is, photographers’ styles, instead of becoming more unique and differentiated with all of the amazing technology available, are becoming more similar. You’ve experienced or participated in this phenomenon if:

  • You’ve engaged in a debate about the “shoot & burn trend,”
  • You’ve noticed a flood of new competition,
  • You’ve said, “They’re always copying me,” to a friend, colleague or family member,
  • You’ve had a prospective client say something like, “You charge how much? But I know someone else who’ll shoot the session and give me a CD for $100,”
  • You or someone you know has been told, “I can buy a camera for that price!,”
  • You’ve visited the websites or blogs of your competition or an industry leader “just to see what they were up to” or to get ideas, or
  • You’ve purchased actions, presets, marketing templates, a posing guide or some other cool toy from one of the “rock stars.”

You may think that these are unrelated events, but all of the above are actually manifestations of the much larger and more damaging industry trend of commoditization.

Why is this such a big deal? Consider the computer hardware industry for a moment. The only brand with loyalty is Apple. All the other computer manufacturers are now seen as interchangeable commodities, and people make purchase decisions between them based on price. No photographer wants that to happen in our industry. And yet, it already is…

If we want any semblance of the market as we know it to survive — if we want to be able to do the work we love and have clients cheerfully pay us a living wage — we must all do our part to reverse the commoditization trend now.

When clients can’t tell the difference between a $3,000 portrait photographer and a $300 one, they’re going to choose the one who is less expensive. That’s not unfair; it’s rational. Pure economics. So, what do we do about it? Check back Tuesday for my next post about differentiating your business.

Until then,
Kate

P.S. Comments and questions are always welcomed on the blog. What is your opinion about the state of the photography industry, and what do you think we can do to make it better?

This post is the first in a series about the wedding and portrait photography industry. You may also be interested in:

  1. State of the industry: Portrait and wedding photography
  2. Differentiating your business, part 1: Why the old ways no longer work
  3. Differentiating your business, part 2: It’s about more than branding
  4. A new framework for business success
  5. How to differentiate authentically + consciously


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12 Comments

  1. […] week, I am going to post an article a day. Each furthers the series I started last Friday about the state of the wedding and portrait photography industry and how we […]

  2. […] State of the industry: Portrait and wedding photography […]

  3. […] State of the industry: Portrait and wedding photography […]

  4. […] State of the industry: Portrait and wedding photography […]

  5. […] State of the industry: Portrait and wedding photography […]

  6. […] So, there you have it. The PPA is copying me…or maybe the time is just right for the message of bringing your authentic self to your business and stepping away from the industry trend of commoditization. […]

  7. […] State of the industry: Portrait and wedding photography […]

  8. […] State of the industry: Portrait and wedding photography […]

  9. […] State of the industry: Portrait and wedding photography […]

  10. […] week, I am going to post an article a day. Each furthers the series I started last Friday about the state of the wedding and portrait photography industry and how we […]

  11. […] State of the industry: Portrait and wedding photography […]

  12. I couldn’t agree more, it used to be how fancy a photographers camera was now it is the case of their laptops!
    Wedding Photographer Bristol recently posted..Ignition warehouse shots


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