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Photographers suffer 86% reduction in turnover due to Coronavirus

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professional photographer during photo shoot in studio

According to a survey conducted by flash drive supplier memorymates.co.uk, wedding and studio photographers have suffered an 86% reduction in turnover due to lockdown restrictions.

Nine out of ten are currently not shooting at all, even in their own studios. The vast majority feel that government support for the industry has been inadequate. A small majority are optimistic about the future.

A survey by memorymates.co.uk has revealed the extent of the commercial difficulties suffered by wedding and studio photographers since the outbreak of coronavirus. Most feel they have not received the appropriate support.

The plight of the industry has previously been under reported, despite severe limitations on its ability to trade. Studios are closed for personal shoots, location work has ceased and weddings cannot be held until April.

memorymates.co.uk conducted a survey with 25 of its customers to better understand how they have been impacted. The online retailer has been supplying keepsake flash drives to the photography industry for over a decade.

The results make for stark reading. 92% of respondents have been unable to work, which led to an 86% drop in turnover between June and December of last year when compared to 2019.

“I shot 3 weddings in 2020 compared to a usual 35,” explained one. “I have had £10,000 worth of work interrupted,” said another.

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Some are facing the unthinkable: “I might be forced to close my business as I still have to pay a lease on the property I’m renting for a studio in town centre.”

A few have found commercial studio work, but even this has been limited. “[I have moved] into product photography. I had a few existing clients and I am actively marketing and developing my skills in this area,” explained one of the 8% who are still shooting, albeit only once a week on average.

Attempts to generate other revenue from photography (such as selling online and from back catalogues) have proved difficult, particularly when the practical implications of lockdown are considered. “It is difficult to do anything while homeschooling my 8 year old … I have a 3 year old too.”

The results don’t read any better for the government. Respondents felt that the industry had been let down badly, rating the government’s efforts at just 2.4 out of 10. Many awarded zero. Much of the feedback suggested that socially distanced weddings and photoshoots should be permitted during lockdown, as participants could be strictly monitored.

“Weddings should be allowed as there is a written record of everyone attending,” explained one photographer. “Weddings should have been supported, and [studio] photography should be separated from retail,” explained another.

Respondents felt they had been better supported personally, but still only rated the government at 4.2. A major concern here was the lack of consistency in approach to photographers of a different employment status, succinctly summed up in this response:

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“[We need] support for all. At the moment there are so many exceptions, too many photographers do not get any support.”

On the upside, the majority feel that much brighter days lay ahead, albeit in a changed industry. Whilst smaller weddings and socially distanced shoots are anticipated for the foreseeable future, 55% of photographers had a positive outlook.

The same proportion expect significant pent up demand once lockdown ends. Most are confident in their ability to cope, including one respondent who is keen for normality to return: “I will just do it. I miss work so much.”

Headline Results

  • Photographers from across the wedding and studio industry participated, typically conducting 1-3 shoots a week (wedding, location & studio)
  • The 8% of photographers who are currently working are conducting an average of 1 shoot a week.
  • Photographers experienced an 86% fall on average in income between June and December of 2020 (compared year on year). Many experienced a 100% drop.
  • 67% have been unable to develop new methods of generating revenue from photography. At least 33% have sought alternative employment.
  • On a scale of 0 to 10, photographers felt that government support rated at 2.4 for the industry and 4.2 for them personally. Many felt it was 0 for both.
  • Many felt that weddings and socially distanced photo shoots should have been allowed to continue throughout lockdown. A lack of clear guidelines and support for Directors was also regularly cited.
  • On a scale of 0 (no bookings) to 10 (future bookings) photographers rated their order book at 5.1.
  • 55% anticipate significant pent up demand. 54% are positive about the future.

(Lead image: Harrison Haines)


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