• Agatha Kempf

The importance of photography in the digital age

Since social media took an extensive place in our lives, the photography industry was seen to have its own significant growth which led it to gain an irreplaceable status, especially in online marketing and communication. More and more people seem to take on photography, whether as a hobby or pursuing it on a professional level, but this sector seems to be coming to a cross road: would it be worth entering the industry when a financial crisis is looming, while simultaneously the digital world is in demand of images more than ever?

By Agatha Kempf

A slow-paced growth

In the last five years, the United Kingdom has seen its photography industry growing by 2.2% as a result of an increase in advertising and in numbers of weddings, and will probably continue on this path for the years to come.

However, calculating the value of the photography industry means gathering the different photography sectors: while portrait photography only represents 6% of the UK photography market, wedding photography scores a high 38% (as a measure of contrast, the wedding photography sector in the US only represents 8.6% of their industry). Commercial photography holds only 12.1% of market share but photojournalism is the second most dominant sector, representing 32.4% of the industry.

“There are more photographers today than there ever was before, that’s a fact” says Alim Syed Haque, 22, photographer.

“There has been a decrease in barriers to enter the photographic field: reduced costs, lower skill gap and better online learning resources are all strong reasons for it. But I believe the biggest competitor is the accessibility of quality cameras in everyone's pockets.” adds Haque.

The sudden rise of digital content creation

If photography has now such an important marketplace, it is with no doubt thanks to its strong online presence and its use in advertising and communication.

It is shown photography helps in retaining information: nearly two out of three people say they are visual learners and as people tend to recall only 10% of information three days after they have heard it, while images can help recall up to 65% of said information.

Gavin SF, 30, fashion and beauty photographer and filmmaker, agrees that the rise of social media helped photography reach its current level: “I strongly feel that photography has gained more importance as a marketing tool for many companies, especially in these days of social media. It has become more effective and accessible, which has also occurred within videography. Content is needed more now than ever before.”

Maria Gedike, 22, another freelance photographer shares the same opinion: “As we had to switch to mostly online services and shopping over lockdowns, more brands invested into creating online content , sometimes even simply from inside their homes.”

Although a lot of content was indeed created at home, by people who did not necessarily have much prior photography knowledge, the image quality and engagement had to be upkept. During an online shopping experience, a photograph can be interestingly highly decisive: 67% of customers say the quality of a product’s image influences their choice of purchase, while 63% value more the photograph’s quality over specific information of the product and 53% value it more than ratings of a product.

A fight for survival?

Although there has been a recent and sudden growth in opportunities to fulfill the demand for digital content, the economy during a pandemic still has its obvious downsides. A slower expansion rate of only 2% should be seen for the photography market in the years of 2021-2022 because of the current financial crisis.

Gedike says: “ I would say some of the major factors that impact the photographic sector and its economy is the closure of many studios, public places and shops that allowed the creative team to select and combine the best set for the shoot.”

“I’d agree that getting recognition in the photo industry has always been hard, but as more people are learning it now, photographers have to work even harder to reach that same level during these times.”