Professional photography industry statistics of 2021 and trends for 2022

If you are looking to become a professional photographer or boost your career, looking at past photography trends and predictions for the industry’s future is an excellent starting point.

To successfully navigate the professional photography industry in 2022, it’s crucial that you understand which types of photography have become more, and less, popular.

A good indicator of what kind of photography jobs are in high demand is the number of searches they have online. This knowledge will help you know what to shoot in order to stay ahead of the market. Another indicator of where the photo industry is heading is a combination of both global events and technological advancement.

Niches that floundered and flourished

After the hard knock the professional photography industry took in 2020, there was an odd mix of recovery and loss in 2021.

A few photography niches have remained relatively unchanged throughout the pandemic. Newborn photographers, maternity photographers, and real estate photographers have all enjoyed something of a status quo. As the pandemic eased last year, there was a general rise in searches for wedding, landscape, travel, and food photography.

Online shopping also became more popular during the pandemic, causing a noteworthy increase in the need for product photography. Food photography does, in some cases, fall into this category too and partly explains the increase in demand in this niche.

For a more in-depth understanding of the photography industry, let’s see what 2022 has in store trends-wise.


Due to the lack of weddings during the first year of the pandemic, there was a sudden flurry of weddings in 2021. As a result, there was an impressive rebound in wedding photography and this upswing is predicted to continue through 2022.

This rebound is fantastic news for photographers worried about financial security, as the average daily rate for a wedding photographer is roughly $800. This makes it one of the more lucrative niches, and until the pandemic came along, weddings were almost a certain revenue stream.

Although weddings are picking up again, the style of weddings has changed somewhat. In the past, wedding photography was dominated by a very formal, crisp style. Now, however, photographers should prepare for simpler, smaller weddings, or micro-weddings, which call for a more intimate and nostalgic style.


Photography is a naturally nostalgic medium, capturing moments of life for us to look back on and treasure in the future. With global warming anxiety rising and a pandemic spreading across the world, nostalgia has become a welcome escapism where we can reminisce about simpler times and the certainty of the past.

In photography, nostalgia has popularized a style for photos with warm tones, light leaks and film grain, whether real or edited.

Yet, the future of film photography is not looking optimistic. Fujifilm, the biggest company to still produce film, discontinued three different types of film at the beginning of 2021. Despite this, many photographers will still argue that film photography is a growing trend and one to watch in 2022.

Inclusivity and Activism Photography

In recent years there’s been a demand for photographers to produce more inclusive photographs that display the human race’s wide variety of bodies, sexual orientations, ethnicities, beliefs, and ages. This demand has once again surged since the Black Lives Matter protests shook the world in 2020.

Capturing activism in the moment has become immensely important as it helps to depict the people behind the movement, and gives a more humanitarian approach. By creating more diverse representation, we can move toward a wider acceptance and appreciation for all types of people.

This move towards diversification is important for commercial photography jobs such as photojournalism, fashion, and stock photography. It also guides how photos get edited as photographers aim to present more authentic images without retouching and filtering faces.

The effects of smartphones on photography

Social media platforms are structured for mobile phones, making vertical photos more popular, as they’re easier to post and view on apps like Instagram and Facebook. This change is significant for DSLR and SLR cameras, as they’re manufactured to operate in a horizontal position. Though this is an easy fix, as you just need to turn your camera to produce Instagram-friendly photographs.

But smartphones are not only influencing the orientation of photographs. The ever-improving smartphone camera is causing a decrease in the production of DSLR cameras. The benefits of a DSLR camera are slowly dwindling as smartphones now offer a photo quality that rivals even high-end DSLR cameras, and for a far cheaper price.

The effects of this trend have made an impact on numerous companies. For example, Nikon has closed down all manufacturing facilities in Japan to cut costs. It’s further predicted that more than 90% of photographs will be taken on smartphones by 2023.


If there’s one thing your smartphone can’t do yet, it’s fly.

As drones become more affordable and produce higher-quality images, more photographers are choosing aerial photography to capture breathtaking views, sports events, music festivals, landscapes, and so much more. There’s a huge demand for these images, and many photographers are selling their work for large sums.

Drones, more officially known as unmanned aerial vehicles, may be great fun, but they come with strict regulations that many photographers are unaware of. There are various regulations related to drone flying all over the world, and you’ll need to look them up before taking any aerial photographs.

Making trends work for you 

Keeping these trends in mind this year will help you determine how best to market your services online. These trends are overarching, but there are still different, smaller trends developing for specific photography genres that are just as relevant and will require further research. It may be best to experiment with your work first to figure out where you can fit in with what’s en vogue.

Don’t be afraid to broaden your subject matter, play with warmer tones, and find new ways to capture human life in its most intimate and tender moments.

With the world opening again after the devastation of a global pandemic, there’s no greater time to capture hope and change than at this moment.

By Charli Tanner

Charli Tanner is a content champion for a variety of online publications. She often covers topics that cater to business owners and entrepreneurs with a strong focus on finance for startups, productivity, management, and a few other topics.