2022 Year In Review: Five Photography Industry Updates, Changes, and Trends on the Rise
After three years of madness in the photography industry, the dust is beginning to settle. But if you're not careful, you might just get left in it!
The photography industry is ever-shifting, and you don’t want to be left in the dust!
Here at The Write Lens, we talk to a lot of photographers. And I mean a lot. We’ve written for over 150 of you now across more than five years! While some things have remained consistent—wedding timeline-building, family client closet offerings, and the promise of legacy preservation—change is in the air!
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BUT WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?
We’re the first ones to tell you that you shouldn’t obsess over what everyone else is doing. You should become the absolute best at what you do and market it to perfection so you can bring it directly to the people who will appreciate it most. But times are a little wild right now, and we want to make sure you’re still here thriving this time next year.
Whether a recession comes or not, whether a resurgence of a global pandemic comes or not, we want you to be ready for anything!
To do that, you’ve got to be prepared. You’ve got to stay on top of the industry and aware of what’s movin’ and shakin’. You’ve got to be more conscious than ever of what you do well, market it flawlessly, and reject compromises that weigh you down. You’ve got to do absolutely everything possible to ensure maximum peace of mind so you can ride this final wave.
So, we’ve created a year-end series just for you! We want to ensure you have all the tools you need to charge into the new year refreshed and ready to go.
Let’s start with an insight into the photography industry. What are other photographers thinking? And most importantly, what are your clients looking for? Here are five of the biggest things we’ve discovered this year and expect to see in the year ahead.
Takeaway One: The divide between big wedding celebrations and adventure elopements is widening.
For the last few years, weddings have been canceled, rescheduled, and pared down. Traditional celebrations and elopements began to blur together as people tried to do anything to put another ring on it, concluding their endless fiancéships. But now that all the pandemic “I do”s have been said, we are seeing the divide between the two celebration styles reappear.
Elopers are returning to the mountaintops and destinations while the big-ceremony-dreamers are going all out once again. The separation between the two has returned, and with it, the importance of understanding each client’s values. While those who choose to elope connect with that “your wedding day is all about YOU” marketing, the rest just don’t. In fact, they might actually hate it.
Couples who invest in massive celebrations want everyone, from Grandma Jean to their college roommate, to have as much fun as they do! They want to see smiles on the faces of everyone they love, and they want to see those smiles reflected in their final gallery. Meanwhile, elopers want adventure, tranquility, and that experience of a lifetime unshackled by the opinions of others. But they also want to show their friends and family how much fun they had in sharp detail.
Sure there will always be the elopers who want to bring a whole entourage and backyard vow-sayers who wish to keep things intimate. But as the divide returns, knowing where your ideal client lands is vital so you can speak directly to them.
A LITTLE EXTRA INSIGHT — It’s not just couples who are over the “your wedding day is all about you” narrative. We’ve noticed a lot of our photographers running from it, too. That might just be a sign that the idea is a little played out.
Takeaway Two: Heirlooms, albums, and prints are moving in-house (and getting a serious makeover).
Photographers are starting to market themselves as printmakers as well as picture takers. They’re shifting their focus to a full-service experience that includes in-house album design and super unique, bespoke heirloom creation. Some photographers are even adding in-house designers to consult with clients and lay out their albums in a narrative-led way, while a few even come and hang the prints for their clients!
Why? Because designing an album or getting prints made is complex! From finding the right lab to laying out the images just right to figuring out how the heck to make a gallery wall look good, most newlyweds, new moms, and families don’t have time for it! And clients realize that investing money in photos that just gather digital dust on their hard drives is kind of a waste. So, photographers who pride themselves on an effortless experience are starting to make the post-delivery experience effortless, too.
A LITTLE EXTRA INSIGHT — Prints and albums are also a really great way to vastly increase your revenue without investing too much additional work. If you haven’t yet added this service to your brand, it might be a good time to consider it.
Takeaway Three: Decision-fatigue elimination is the name of the game.
No matter what kind of photography you offer, your clients are really freakin’ overwhelmed. Wedding planning, baby prep, business management, and day-to-day family life are jam-packed with decisions. And after the last few years, a think all of us are pretty much decisioned out. That means every additional decision you require of a client is a burden some will find too heavy to carry.
This is leading many photographers to embrace a decision-fatigue-eliminating approach to luxury because photographers are finally (thank God!) recognizing that luxury isn’t a photography style—it’s an experience.
Offering one fan-favorite collection (that can be customized behind the scenes) rather than three or more. Promising all-day photography coverage rather than asking first-time wedding planners to choose how many hours of photography they want. Delivering a full gallery instead of asking clients to choose their ten favorites. We are seeing photographers take simplifying steps like these to make their client experience feel more luxurious! And it’s really connecting with clients!
A LITTLE EXTRA INSIGHT — This decision-fatigue elimination is just one part of a remarkable client experience. We’ve mentioned user experience (UX) before, and we’re going to REALLY go all in on UX for photographers in one of our monthly series next year, so stay tuned.
Takeaway Four: The overexposed, light and airy look is about to lose its top style spot.
Styles come and go all the time. Remember all those Tuscan-inspired kitchens that all our moms were SO into? Remember the way Joanna Gaines convinced us all that no matter where we lived, we should decorate our homes like there were chickens out back? Notice how both of those feel very of their time and even, dare I say it, dated? That happens with photography styles, too. And we’ve noticed that newer photographers are less inclined to adopt the light and airy look that had us all in a stranglehold for so long.
The new “in” look is more natural, vibrant, and true to life. Depending on the location and context, that “true to life” approach might tint slightly warmer or cooler, but the fact is clients want color! And the photographers we talk to have noticed.
Photographers are increasingly taking more vibrant images that invite couples to step back into their wedding or session day, rather than photos that replace the brilliant blue sky with a moody gray or wash out the intricate lace details of the bride’s gown.
A LITTLE EXTRA INSIGHT — No matter your style, people are becoming more attuned to the differences between them. So, spend extra time learning to describe yours accurately and pointing out the benefits so you can encourage clients to book.
Takeaway Five: Flexibility is critical, including weekday weddings, additional photographers, and last-minute engagement sessions.
The word of the year has been flexibility. Whether that’s booking a Tuesday wedding, adding a second photographer to every collection to catch every moment, or taking engagement photos two days before the destination wedding, photographers are showcasing their flexibility to delight their clients in new ways! We’ve even seen photographers add assistants to their wedding day crew, so the day flows even more smoothly, and they can be even more flexible for their clients’ needs.
But don't get carried away—we would never encourage unfettered flexibility!
Even the most open of us have limits, and it’s vital to know yours before promising the moon. The end of the year is a perfect time to reflect on what went well and poorly last year and where you’d like to establish new boundaries in the year ahead to prevent another stressful experience. A few places we’d like to see more firm boundaries are in contact hours, rescheduling windows, cancellation policies, editing and retouching limits, and points of contact. By establishing and expressing your boundaries early, you’re free to be more flexible within your set zone!
What do you think of our five takeaways from 2022?
Have you already noticed some of these yourself? Do you disagree with any of them? Have you seen any other trends on the rise we should know about? Tell us in the comments!
And don’t forget to circle back around here next week for our next end-of-the-year article. This time, we’re talking web design, and it’s gonna be REAL GOOD!
Are you ready for a major content revamp for 2023?
Let’s get you on the books! Your slow season is our busy season, so get in touch now if you’d like to book a new-year-new-me website revamp! In just three days, we can get your website new year ready, and we still have two January spots available! But these always go fast, so get in touch now if you want to grab one! We also have a (newly redesigned) shop full of email, blog, and site templates if you want to DIY your written content for the new year!
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Great tips. I’m not a wedding photographer but think some of these can be applied to any photographer.