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IBISWorld: Pro photography in gentle, long decline

Market researcher IBISWorld has released a report of the Professional Photography industry in Australia, predicting continuing revenue declines over the next five years.

The report states that pro photographers have recently weathered the twin storms of subdued economic growth and a long-term downturn in demand. This has resulted in a pronounced dip in professional photography industry revenue, which is estimated to have contracted by an annualised 3.1 percent over the five years through to 2011-12, to total $835 million.

There are 5380 professional photography businesses and 10,375 people working in the industry.

According to IBISWorld industry analyst Anthony Kelly, ‘the long-term demand for professional photography has been eroded by the widespread adoption of digital camera technology by consumers and amateur photographers.’

Manufacturers have continued to add more user-friendly features to DSLRs and market them to hobbyist photographers, while the amount of photography short courses and online tutorials has grown.

In addition to the long-term influence of camera technology, the demand for industry services is affected by the trends in the general economy and the capacity of households and businesses to purchase photography services. In the current slow economic environment, householders and businesses are undertaking photographic assignments that would formerly have been the realm of professionals.

(Source: Canon Professional Services)

The professional photography industry has a low level of concentration and there is only one major player – Photo Corporation Group (Pixie Foto, The Portrait Place), according to the report. The industry is saturated with small players who are finding it easier to enter the industry due to the falling costs of start-up capital and consumable inputs.

‘The vast majority of industry establishments are non-employer operations, principally sole proprietors undertaking wedding portraits,” added Mr Kelly.

The proportion of non-employing enterprises in the industry has increased over the past five years as new technology became more affordable and new markets opened for small players to exploit. Aided by low set-up costs, most professional photographers are operating on their own, in either a full-time or part-time capacity. This is especially true of wedding and portrait photographers.

Professional photography industry revenue is expected to decline over the next five years. Photographers who wish to be successful will focus on areas where they can differentiate themselves from amateur photographers, such as superior shooting and image editing skills, or through providing services such as school portraits or wedding photography, where professionals are considered necessary or worth the expense on an important day.

Generally speaking, establishments are spread around Australia in line with the distribution of the population. However, states with younger populations tend to have more demand for photography services. Commercial photographers situate themselves close to businesses that use their services, generally in major population centres like Brisbane, Sydney, Perth and Melbourne. New South Wales has 36.4 percent of total establishments and 32.1 percent of the nation’s population. Western Australia, which has been experiencing a population boom in recent years, nonetheless uses less photographic services per capita than New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.

For more information, or to order the $1000 report, click here.


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