Careers in the Photography Industry?

5 mins read

I should state immediately I am not a photography industry expert, this post is just a series of observations made over a number of years that are informing decision about courses in Photography for the next generation.

I have recently been researching A-level courses in Photography there is a phenomenal demand from the digital generation who capture and share photos on more platforms than we would have dreamed of 10 years ago to study the art at A-Level.

But, are there actually future career opportunities in the photography industry that matches the demand we are seeing for courses? I realise on the surface this appears like a ridiculous question given just how vibrant and big the industry is currently but is it changing?

During the recent Adobe Creative Week one member of the photography panel noted that it is currently a buyers market for stock imagery and that newspapers are now setting the pricing and they are paying significantly less for images than they once were.

I have seen this firsthand, I know of a photographer who was paid just £25 for an image that appeared in a large newspaper. You would be a long time paying for your camera never mind making a living at those rates?

I hear photographers claim “People now buy a good DSLR and immediately think they are a photographer” (I think some will included me in that group). The problem is that there is truth in the statement and the news and media industries endorse this to their finical benefit. Now instead of sending photographers out are they now getting their images from the public for free via the “Send us your Pics” requests? The reward for the amateur photographer is having their photo appear on the website of a major news outlet. I’ve done it, I’ve been excited, I’ve regretted it.

Music Photography

Does this aspiring music photographer have a career in the future?

Photographers in the music industry are also being marginalised. I read with interest artist release forms for various music events, actually there is a great group on Facebook aptly named “Music Photographers” who share the utterly ridiculous agreements presented to photographers before shooting a gig. There is something painfully ironic that an artist albeit in a different industry can think so little of the art of photography.

Is the music industry is a good comparison to the photography industry? I know plenty of really successful photographers out there but I also know plenty more who are struggling to make ends meet. Is this the same as the deluge of absolutely brilliant musicians who just don’t get that all important break to the big time?

So, when a young person says they wants to be a photographer when they grow up do I see the opportunities? I am not sure that I do. Has the market shifted from making money from people who want to buy images to making money from those who want to make images? Don’t get me wrong, I am not for a second saying this is a bad thing, I am just asking the question.

I follow lots of really successful photographers but I suspect their audiences are made up of aspiring photographers who want to learn the craft.

This post isn’t meant to annoy, belittle or insult. I am simply asking questions on an exploration….

“Where are the future photography careers?”

Are the career opportunities still in capturing photographs or is everyone now deemed to be a photographer and the industry has moved to supporting and training the population?

I am probably way off the mark and I am most definitely not qualified to have an opinion but I need to be sure of the validity of directing young people into A-level courses in Photography, your opinion is valued.


The State of Creativity


David is a documentary and landscape photographer covering everything from dramatic long exposure landscape photography through to live music. David is a former Official Fujifilm X Photographer.


  1. I see your point, but really, is there ANY arts degree where the number of jobs matches anywhere close to the number of graduates? And has that really changed all that much, over the years? Sure, photography courses have grown – but so have music faculties, drama departments, and so on…

    And really, the future opportunities are right where you’re spotting them – in making consumer products for serious hobbyist photographers, I suspect…

  2. I think you make a good point. The truth is I think those who say things publicly, and want to make a living at it, have to learn to do so in many ways. In my job I need to be able to do a lot more than I had to learn in 1990 when I started. Now I have to be;

    Sound recordist
    Online journalist
    Social media practitioner

    When I started I only had to do the first three. Now my photography and moving picture work has come on leaps and bounds – but it’s never as good as someone who does it professionally all the time. The trick is to be flexible, take the work where you can get it, and really learn how to market yourself.

    For all that, you can almost always tell who is the professional photographer, the hobby photographer, and the snapper. And on any given day, it can vary who gets the best shot. What has changed is the value of excellence in the marketplace.

    With so many outlets merely looking for “content”, and many of them not even checking, correcting or editing much of it, I guess we get what we pay for…

  3. Another area is the photo industry (cameras, accessories, etc.) Thee jobs can pay steadily and well, and can still involve actual photography to various degrees.

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