Is this photography market REALLY sustainable?

Just as there is a growing rate of new photographers entering the market this year – I’ll wager that there is a growing rate of people getting out of the market. (I have no statistics to prove that — just trusting my gut.)

I’ve personally witnessed a high of rate of burnout, business failures, return to employment status, starting new careers, going back to school, and just simply quitting with the photographers I’ve coached, counseled, and chatted with.

Since the invention of digital photography and user friendly Photoshop – there has been a substantial rate of new photographers in the industry compared to 20 years ago.

BUT, I believe that the demand for photography has also grown with that. Custom photography is more accessible than it once was because there are more photographers available to do it. What once was more common to schedule a family photo session at a local studio once every few years – there are now families that do it more regularly than that. With online sharing, there is demand for photography like never before. So naturally, there would be an increase in photographers.

But is the market sustainable?

Well, it depends on what market you are in and how much work you are willing to put into it. The shoot and burn market will always be there. There will ALWAYS be demanding people who want what they want for as cheaply as they can possibly get it.

HOWEVER, can a single photographer thrive in that market? I know personally that although I could be in this market if necessity demanded it of me, I wouldn’t survive long because

I have never had the desire for a high volume business lifestyle. That market isn’t sustainable for my business and life goals, BUT it could last 10+ years for someone who enjoys high volume, low effort photography and doesn’t have a lifestyle that requires higher sales.

I’ve seen photographers that have been doing this for decades and it’s sustainable for them.

I believe the real issue lies with the number of new photographers who come into the photography biz thinking that it’s going to be easy money with very little effort or expense.

A very high rate come into the industry with nothing but a camera and an empty bank account and a whole lot of entitlement issues (a rant for which I’ll save for another post). In my opinion, they aren’t preventing the market from being sustainable because they don’t last long.

Given the three to six months it takes to find out that being an business owner – whether you are a photographer or a pie maker – is not easy money, those individuals give up. They find that a business will not sustain itself without a substantial investment of time, money, energy, or all three.

Is the market oversaturated?
Well, I guess it just depends on how you define the saturation.

Is it sustainable?
Yes and no – yes, if you’re one of those talented people willing to invest time and energy into creating business success in the long(er) term.


Those who wish to enter the business, undercut pricing, and ‘get rich quick’ aren’t creating a sustainable business — they’ll be gone in a few months.

COO Photographer Rising