Why the commercial photography sector is set to grow

We’ve just seen some research that forecasts that Global commercial photography is expected to be worth almost $11 billion by 2015, (Source: Global Industry Analysts) and this figure is driven by the fragmented markets of advertising, digital photography and social networking. The suggestion is that the commercial photography industry will continue to grow as more and more companies turn to the industry to promote their businesses.

With the migration of business into social media, previously consumer-only environments, businesses themselves face increasingly fragmented marketing strategies and, more importantly for photographers, they face the challenge of creating new content for channels that demand high levels of new material to make them work by driving traffic and customers to their own websites and social media channels.

This surely creates a powerful reason for commercial photographers to embrace social media channels – to understand how images and other content work in these areas you first need to understand the channels – by being active within them. Businesses in the very near future will be keen to commission suppliers who are active in, and therefore understand the channels – how can someone who has no working knowledge of social media produce suitable images for it?

Clients who are commissioning images, will increasingly look for suppliers via these channels. They’ll judge a photographer, not just on the quality of their work, but also at how well they themselves utilise these channels for their own marketing purposes. The next generation of commercial photographers (and never forget the amateurs) will emerge into the scene with an instinctive knowledge of these channels, as they’ve grown up with them as the norm. The people who may possibly struggle, will be the 30 somethings, who have gained their experience from a totally different set of marketing channels, and who have to work harder to get that instinctive feel for the new ways of marketing.

Much of the cynicism about the role and value of social media for photographers – and its ability to convert into paid commissions, is because of the volume of personal, trivial, and non business related content mixed in with the corporate stuff. It’s easy to chat, but not everyone has got the knack of being able to make the right contacts through these channels, and how to get the conversation off-line. But avoid it at your peril. Because it does work, and if this prediction is to be believed, it will be an increasingly lucrative channel for those who have got their heads round it.

No doubt, these social media channel orientated marketing strategies will create new demands on photographers. We’re already hearing of clients demanding lower budget work, but the upside – and yes there is one this time, is that overall the budgets are not being reduced, and are sometimes even increasing, because the frequency of commissions is increasing, because in these channels, new content drives traffic, has a very short lifespan and wears out very quickly.

There will be real opportunities for the forward thinking, future facing photographers, who can work with a client adding value to the relationship from a position of knowledge, by advising which types of photographic approaches and budget levels are suitable for which channel, providing images and content which is sensitive to the clients marketing approach.

Image provided by eposure member Rob Tomlin

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