Three Things Photography Schools Don't Want You to Know

The market for photography is shrinking.

More and more people are entering the market.

Itís not going to get any better.

The market for photography is shrinking.

Because of the [perceived] ease of digital photography and because of the widespread availability of cheap stock photography, the number of paying photography jobs is going down. I have a friend of mine who likes to dabble in photography. He doesnít consider himself an expert by any means. He confessed that he bought the latest version of a photo editor just to be able to do easy head swaps. Every year he takes a new family portrait. By professional standards the lighting is flat and not very good and the posing could be done in a much more flattering manner. But he is happy with them. Is he ever going to come to me and have a family portrait taken? No. But back in the days of film when it was not so easy for him he probably would have.

A few years ago the Chicago Sun fired all its photographers replacing them with iphones carried by the reporters. Not long after that a newspaper in the U.K. would go one step further saying that they would just get their photos from social media. Time magazine has used stock images for its cover. The corporate annual report - once the staple of the commercial photographer diet - has become populated more with stock images than anything taken specifically for the company. In the past calendar and postcard companies would have sifted through numerous submissions from photographers for their annual publication. Now they just pull images from microstock photo agencies.

I could go on and on. But the truth is, fewer people are paying for photography.

More people are entering the market.

Several years ago I read an article in a business magazine about a study on why small businesses fail and why the succeed. One of the findings from the study was, the lower the barriers to entry into the business the more people would enter the business and the more businesses would fail. This is why restaurants come and go and veterinarians come and stay.

Back in the days of film, it would require an investment of at least $3000 and closer to $10,000 to get the necessary equipment to adequately start a photography business. It also required more knowledge about photography as the equipment was far less automated back then. With digital, you can start a photography business with less than a $1000 and with the power of programs like Photoshop, you have the ability to create things that would have been outside the realm of the average film based photographer or lab. The barriers to entry have been reduced, and more and more people are entering the business.

Itís not going to get any better.

Companies and individuals will continue to increase the amount of photography they do themselves. Technology will continue to increase the quality of cameras and image editing programs while making them less expensive encouraging more people to take their own photographs or enter the "professional" market. A shrinking pie is being sliced ever thinner. Thatís not to say that itís impossible to start and succeed in photography today. Itís just really, really hard. I went back five years and looked at the roles from our local professional photographers guild. Less than 20% are still in business today. So beware of any school or anyone who tells you that you will succeed just by taking a few courses.

I do offer several photography courses if you're interested. You may find out abou them here.