A Sneak Peek at the 2023 State of the Photography Industry Survey Results

Get a sneak peek at the results now. Discover the latest marketing trends and insights from the 2023 State of the Photography Industry survey.

2023 SOPI Sneak Preview Header 672x840 offcenter.png

Data. Today, everything is about the data. What does it reveal? What stories does it tell? What can you learn and apply to your own photography business? Our thanks to the photographers who participated in this year’s industry survey. Here’s a sneak peek at the trends and a few “a-ha” findings from the 2023 State of the Photography Industry survey of photographers. The full report is coming soon, but we want to share some preliminary results on the topic of marketing.

Marketing: How and where photographers promote their business.

Digital technology and social media platforms have provided more ways than ever for photographers to market their business. Websites, blogs, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and other platforms enable showcasing portfolios and services to reach a wider audience. Online paid advertising with Google Ads or Facebook Ads helps target specific groups and demographics. And some photographers go “old school” by attending industry events and using direct email marketing.

You can’t deny the importance of marketing, and the survey shows that photographers have a wide variety of avenues at their fingertips. Not everybody approaches it the same way, so we’ve drilled down into the survey data to find out more…

This first chart indicates that 100% of Real Estate photographers in this survey say they market themselves, followed closely by Conceptual/Abstract and Boudoir photographers. The smallest specialty group was School photographers at 67%.

2023 SOPI Percent Market Branded

Old-fashioned Word of Mouth tops the “How” of marketing when looking at all specialties combined, with Instagram leading the digital platforms. (Note that SEO is defined as blogs, metatags, sitemap, keywords, links.)

2023 SOPI Marketing Branded

The results are flipped for Fashion and Beauty with Instagram used significantly more than Word of Mouth…and a much higher use of TikTok than other specialties.

2023 SOPI Fashion Beauty Branded

This year’s survey reveals that spending time or money at Trade Shows is really not popular as photographers use much easier and cost-effective ways. In fact, several categories indicated zero participation here. Wedding and niche photographers for Equine and Canine use Trade Shows, but it is still not a significant portion of their marketing tactics.

2023 SOPI Trade Show Branded

Photography businesses that cater to B2B (Business-to-Business) markets, such as Commercial, Fashion/Beauty, and Editorial photography, typically provide services to other businesses rather than to individual consumers. These client businesses require specialized photography services to market their products, promote their brand, or document their operations. Because of their business model, the B2B photographers use LinkedIn at a greater level than B2C (Business-to-Consumer) photographers.

2023 SOPI LinkedIn Branded

B2C photography businesses, such as wedding or family portrait photography, typically target their marketing at individual consumers. These photographers still rely heavily on Word of Mouth, but also use social media platforms like Instagram or Facebook to showcase their work and reach potential clients. 

2023 SOPI Portrait Branded
2023 SOPI Wedding Branded

An analysis of photographers by revenue level and how they spend their time and money marketing indicates that even the lowest income generating photographers are trying just about everything. At both ends of the revenue spectrum, photographers surveyed say they rely most heavily on Word of Mouth.

2023 SOPI Revenue 100K Branded
2023 SOPI Revenue 10K Branded

Organic marketing refers to the use of non-paid, non-promotional tactics to drive traffic and engagement to a photographer’s online presence. If we look at organic digital marketing by combining Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, TikTok, SEO, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and email marketing, and compare it to paid digital marketing, we see that photographers invoicing over $100k a year focus 86% of their efforts on non-paid digital marketing. The ratio is about the same for those with revenue less than $10K.

2023 SOPI Revenue Paid vs Organic Marketing Branded

For photographers with revenue over $100K in revenue, paid Facebook Ads are utilized by nearly a 2:1 margin over paid ads with Google and Instagram, yet for those with revenue less than $10K, Google Ads are a distant third.

2023 SOPI Revenue Paid Breakdown Branded

If this early look at the data has already made you more confident about ways to run your photography business, then stay tuned for the full release of the highly anticipated State of the Photography Industry 2023 survey results later this month.

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