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92% photographers out of work, 86% reduction in turnover due to COVID

92% photographers out of work, 86% reduction in turnover due to COVID
(Image credit: James Artaius)

An astonishing 92% of wedding and studio photographers have found themselves out of work, leading to an 86% drop in turnover, due to the lockdown and restrictions placed on the photographic industry over the past year.

It's no secret that the pandemic, and the measures to control and contain it, have decimated industries across the board. However, for social photographers shooting weddings, engagements, portraits, newborns and families, as well as editorial and commercial photographers shooting for clients and companies, the effect has been devastatingly profound. 

• Read more: Best cameras for wedding photography

The 8% of photographers who are still working are conducting an average of just a single shoot a week, according to the UK survey from industry flash drive supplier Memory Mates

The report also notes that 67% have been unable to develop new ways to earn money from photography, with at least 33% seeking an alternative profession. In addition, the vast majority of photographers feel that government support for the industry was unsatisfactory, collectively rated at just 2.4 out of 10. 

Complaints were far ranging. "I shot 3 weddings in 2020 compared to a usual 35," said one respondent, with another stating that, "I have had £10,000 worth of work interrupted." 

A constant refrain was the lack of clear guidelines, and the fact that the wedding industry was left to rot while social photography was subject to the same restrictions imposed on the retail industry.  

"Weddings should have been supported, and [studio] photography should be separated from retail," noted one respondent, with another adding, "If [supermarkets like][ Tesco and Asda can open, weddings should be able to go ahead."

So what of the future, now that lockdown restrictions are starting to ease? Only 55% believe that there will be pent up demand for photographic services, with just 55% feeling optimistic about the future – and only with the caveat that the industry will be able to work as normal in the summer. 

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Best lenses for wedding photography
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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a magazine and web journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients as diverse as Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photographic and lighting tutorials, as well as industry analysis, news and rumors for publications such as Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Phot0: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.