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15 Photography Industry Statistics and Data — Updated in 2022

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Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.

While professional photography is a bit different than taking selfies on your phone, they do share one thing in common — they both represent a growing trend.

But what else do you need to know about the photography industry? Whether you’re just interested in the field or are looking to start your own business, here’s what you want to know.

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Top 15 Photography Industry Statistics

  1. Careers in photography are expected to grow by 17%.
  2. About 12,700 job openings for photographers are projected for each year.
  3. There were 110,500 professional photographers in the United States in 2020.
  4. 68% of photographers are self-employed.
  5. California has the most traditionally employed photographers at 5,220.
  6. Hawaii has the highest concentration of traditionally employed photographers with 0.42 per thousand jobs.
  7. Careers in photography are expected to see salaries rise by 12% over 5 years.
  8. The median hourly pay for photographers is $18.73.
  9. The District of Columbia is the top-paying state for photographers with an annual mean wage of $84,590.
  10. Global photographic services brought in $32.92 billion in 2020.
  11. The U.S. photography market size in 2022 was $11.5 billion.
  12. The global photography market size is expected to reach $44.07 billion by 2025.
  13. The United States accounted for 41% of the global photography market in 2020.
  14. The Asia/Pacific region accounted for 29% of the global photography market in 2020.
  15. The average cost for a digital camera in 2022 was $189.52.

shutter camera divider 2Employment Numbers

1. Careers in photography are expected to grow by 17%.

(Pikes Peak Community College)

With the world getting more digital by the day, it’s no surprise that careers in photography are on the rise. Even so, a 17% rise in careers is nothing to sneeze at, and it’s something that you want to consider if you’re thinking about a future photography career.

Nikon Mirrorless Camera

Image Credit: Kai Cheng, Unsplash


2. About 12,700 job openings for photographers are projected for each year.

(National Bureau of Labor Statistics)

There are expected to be 12,700 job openings for photographers each year. That’s quite an open market for budding photographers.


3. There were 110,500 professional photographers in the United States in 2020.

(National Bureau of Labor Statistics)

In 2020, there were over 110,000 professional photographers out there! Considering the industry constantly growing, you can expect that number to rise.

Cameraman

Image Credit: SplitShire , Pixabay


4. 68% of photographers are self-employed.

(Chron)

While there are over 110,000 professional photographers in the United States, it’s important to note that over 2/3rds of these professionals are self-employed. So, if you’re looking for a traditional 9-5 employment, this likely isn’t the career for you.

However, if you’re looking to start your own small business and control your own success, then it’s a great career choice.


5. California has the most traditionally employed photographers at 5,220.

(National Bureau of Labor Statistics)

While most photographers are self-employed, if you’re looking for the state with the most traditionally employed photographers, it’s California, and it’s not even close. California accounts for over 5,000 traditionally employed photographers, almost 2,000 more than the next closest state (New York).


6. Hawaii has the highest concentration of traditionally employed photographers with 0.42 per thousand jobs.

(National Bureau of Labor Statistics)

While California has the most traditionally employed photographers, this partly comes down to the size of the state. If you’re looking for the highest percentage of traditionally employed photographers, it’s Hawaii.

Photographer

Image Credit: Pexels, Pixabay


Income Potential

7. Careers in photography are expected to see salaries rise by 12% over 5 years.

(National Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Inflation is rising, but so are salaries for photographers. A 12% salary rise over 5 years means you can expect the money that you make now to keep up with inflation over the next 5 years and take you as far as it does today — that’s not something that every career can boast.


8. The median hourly pay for photographers is $18.73.

(National Bureau of Labor Statistics)

$18.73 per hour works out to about $40,000 a year. Since most photographers are self-employed, your potential total income can be much higher than this. In fact, some professional photographers make close to $100,000!


9. The District of Columbia is the top-paying state for photographers with an annual mean wage of $84,590.

(National Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Sometimes getting paid what you’re worth is all about moving to the right state. While the national median salary for professional photographers is just under $40,000, if you go to the District of Columbia, the annual mean salary balloons to over $84,000!

Camera

Image Credit: JESHOOTS-com, Pixabay


Industry Numbers

10. Global photographic services brought in $32.92 billion in 2020.

(Business Wire)

There’s money in photography. In 2020 alone, people spent almost $33 billion on photography. In a world that is only going more digital by the day, you can expect those numbers to rise year after year.


11. The U.S. photography market size in 2022 is $11.5 billion.

(IBIS World)

At an $11.5-billion market size, you can make decent money in the photography business in the United States. Even better for budding entrepreneurs, most of that industry is fragmented. There are not just a few companies scooping up all the money, so small businesses stand a chance at getting a slice of the pie!


12. The global photography market size is expected to reach $44.07 billion by 2025.

(Business Wire)

While the world spent just under $33 billion on photography in 2020, that number is expected to exceed $44 billion by 2025! This industry is growing, which is a huge boon to job security.


13. The United States accounted for 41% of the global photography market in 2020.

(Business Wire)

While there’s a global market for photography, the largest chunk of the money in the industry comes from the United States. If you’re looking to get into the photography career field, you couldn’t ask for a better location than the U.S.

Camera

Image Credit: Shutterbug75, Pixabay


14. The Asia/Pacific region accounted for 29% of the global photography market in 2020.

(Business Wire)

There’s no doubt that the United States is the largest market for photography, but the Asia/Pacific region is second on the list. It makes up almost a third of the entire global market.


15. The average cost for a digital camera in 2022 was $189.52.

(Statista)

If you’re considering a career in photography, you’ll need a digital camera. The average new camera costs just under $200. But keep in mind that this is only the first piece of equipment that you’ll need, and if you’re looking to make it a career, you’ll likely need even more gear to be successful.shutter camera divider 2

Frequently Asked Questions About Photography Industry

Whether you’re considering a career in photography or are just curious about what’s out there, you’re bound to have a few questions, so here are a few answers.

Is the Photography Industry Growing or Declining?

There’s no doubt that the photography industry is currently booming and growing. With more than 12,000 job openings expected each year and the overall career field expected to expand by 17% over the coming years, it’s a rapidly growing industry that you can get into!

(Pikes Peak Community College, National Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Who Is the Target Market for Photographers?

It depends on the type of photography business that you want to start. If you’re looking to start a commercial photography business, it’s easier to get started with small and medium-sized companies, those with under 500 employees.

However, if you’re looking for portraits and other personal photography, your target market can be just about anyone. You can specialize in weddings, births, sporting events, etc.

Animal Photographer

Image Credit: nidan, Pixabay

Is Photography Considered a Retail Business?

No, photography is considered a service business. You are providing the customer with a service by taking their photograph, and whether you’re listing your business or filing your taxes, that’s what it should fall under.

How Do You Start a Photography Business?

Starting a photography business requires a bit of leg work, but if you’re willing to put in the effort, it’s not that hard. First, you need to invest in the right equipment, and a photography course or two couldn’t hurt, especially on the editing side of things.

Next, you want to build up your portfolio. You might not get paid for these pictures, but you’ll still want to do your best work because it’s what will land you future jobs.

Finally, you should build a website and advertise! People need to know what you offer and how much you charge and to see examples of your work. If you’re good at what you do and word gets out to the right people, you shouldn’t have any problem building your business.

Is Photography Still Profitable?

While the upfront cost to get into photography can be a little steep between equipment and subscriptions, there’s no doubt that you can turn a profit if you work hard and put out high-quality work.

Plenty of money goes into the photography industry each year, so it’s just about getting your slice of the pie and building your business from there!

shutter camera divider 2Conclusion

While taking photos on your phone is fun, it’s a far cry from the booming business that is professional photography. So much money changes hands in the photography business, and more and more industries are starting to see its value!


Featured Image Credit: Kim Becker, Unsplash

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.

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