Post Author: Eugene Nagawiecki

Reading time: 7 minutes

How to Thrive as a Twenty-First Century Professional Photographer

In any business you have to constantly be evolving to remain successful. In the world of photography this is even more crucial as technology is perpetually pushing new boundaries. What can you as a professional photographer do today to prepare you for success tomorrow? We'll discuss that here.

Is video a good way to make money as a professional photographer?

Video is a great way to ensure your photography business will continue to thrive as we careen deeper into the future.

The quick and dirty? Learn video. According to PIV (German for Photo Industry Association) and their trend report, in 2015 “more pictures were taken than in all the years before that taken together.”

In fact, it continued, “[i]t is estimated that there were about 1 trillion photos [and] [i]f we printed out all the pictures taken and saved within 4x6in prints and set them side by side, they would stretch over a distance of 320 million kilometers. That is greater than the distance from the Earth to the Sun and back again.”


That’s a lot of pictures. Like a LOT of pictures.

Two things can be garnered from those statistics – which now years old are certainly only more startling for the more recent years:

1. People appreciate pictures.

After all, lets face it, if people didn’t care about pictures we wouldn’t be seeing these record numbers.

2. To stay competitive and relevant as a professional photographer it’s more important than ever to be unique and find any and all ways to stand out and expand your services.

So how does one do so you ask?

Video can help you stand out as a professional photographer.

'Hi, uh, I'm looking for....ah nevermind.' There's a lot of books in that store but it's nothing compared to the amount of photos out there. Make sure you have a way to make yourself stand out among the clutter.

Video as the Next Dimension


Of course it always pays to be yourself and let yourself be your brand, and, therefore, you're unique.

Yet, another way is to add a different dimension to your craft – for professional photographers the best place to start is with video. Video can help propel a professional photographer to a new level that will leave you cutting edge, creative, and, of course, desirable.

Indeed, PIV’s 2016 trend report concludes that “photo and video are growing ever closer together.”

Meanwhile, prominent British wedding photographer and videographer Hannah Millard agrees observing “we’re a very video-driven society now,” one in which “overtime,” video will be “overtaking image-driven stories….”

Is video the next dimension for professional photographers?

Photography and video; think not oil and water, but rather coffee and milk where one can compliment the other.

Look no further than social media for any one needing more proof. Facebook went from being a basic platform where people would look at the pictures on other people’s profiles to now feeds being bombarded with video clips. In fact, one of the most popular functions of Facebook is the “stories” feature where friends literally share a video story of themselves.

Yet, this idea even took over Instagram!

Instagram which was literally started as a picture platform is now providing SEO boosts to those who are more active in its own video stories feature. But it’s not only social media; video is infiltrating all aspects of life and expected to only continue to do so in the foreseeable future.

And that's not even getting in to TikTok (the next big social media sensation already here).

Easy Adaptation

But, the fact that video is taking over isn’t cause for concern, rather, it's to a professional photographer’s advantage. Hannah, a professional photographer who has successfully added video herself, is sure to point out “in that way [adapting video] is very good for business.”

It’s also not too difficult for a photographer to adapt to. “I think particularly, wedding photographers, we are very used to creating a narrative within our photography work. So a lot of the time without really noticing it you kind of; you’re story-boarding the day in the same way that a film-maker would.

“So you get your establishing shots and you get the emotion; you get the story. Obviously it’s a different medium to work in, [but] adding some moving pictures to that can be a natural progression….”

Plus it can help you to stand out as photographer.

By doing video services as a photographer you'll make yourself stand out as unique.

Offering video is a way to bring some refreshing and eye-popping uniqueness to your professional photography business.

Yet, Hannah emphasized as a photographer taking on video work you’d have an advantage as your content is likely to be unique even within the world of videography. “I find that a lot of photographers are just create something different from what people have seen before.”

That background is essential as she concludes photographers “bring a different kind of eye to film-making, they bring a different style of composition, and they bring a different perspective.”

Especially for wedding photographers, “’s more established that you’ll move around to be within the scene, that you’ll get close to people in a way that film-makers often feel that they can’t – or they’re tied to the spot where their tripod is. So being able to be in that perspective that we get naturally as photographers at different points across the wedding day is something that can translate to film in a really interesting and new way….”

You can bring a new; fresh perspective to a growing and valuable art – another visual art – without as much arduous transition time as you might expect. Hannah not only assures, but practically implores fellow photographers to hang on to what you already know when using video and that often you’ll “use the same skills, a lot of the same skills, and the same understanding of exposure and composition that [photographers] would use in their stills work to film.”

Learning video as a professional photographer is easier than you think.

Adapting video as a professional photographer may not be as difficult or time-consuming as you think.

Cameras Down, Video Up

Back to PIV; While the report highlighted a clear downward trend in the sale of cameras over the past five years (2011-2016), “the action cam segment,” never failed “to enjoy unbridled momentum.”

In fact, more than 10.5 million action cams were sold globally in 2015 (a consecutive record setting year).

Harking back to what Hannah had stated, the trend is clear: video is taking its place in the world of visual arts on demand – and aggressively at that.

It’s not a question of if, but when – rather, how soon – will the blend of photo and video be the norm and demand in the photography market?

Is video overtaking photography?

Video has even taken over Instagram in the form of popular Instagram stories.

While certainly there will always be purists if you will – pro photographers only working with photos, and videographers only working with video – the blended gray area is starting to firmly form an expansive foundation and with most business trends, it’s better to be ahead of this wave than stuck behind it – or worse; caught in its undertow.

Nowadays nearly all professional cameras come with a respectable video capability - why not experiment; use your creative instrument to its fullest? (your camera too ;) Yet, this message is not mine; instead paraphrased text of an identical message told to me by Hannah – it does make sense though.

After all, “so-called grabbing technology,” where still pictures are extracted, or grabbed, from a video file “will become the new standard in all genres of photography,” according to the much referenced PIV trend report. It added, this is true “especially among those whose subjects move very fast.”

Don’t Replace Your Service – Improve it

Photography will never completely disappear due to video (I like to think of the photo/video relationship similar to the print/digital photography relationship), indeed, instead, the converging technologies will “make it easier to tell stories in the way most suitable to the situation.” (PIV trend report)

As Darwin showed us the key to survival and subsequent thriving and flourishing comes from the ability to adapt and be flexible. Do yourself and your business a favor and expand and diversify your skills in order to ensure a flourishing business in this new and ever-changing 21st century photography landscape; and better to do it sooner than later so you can stake your ground and have a leg up before the inevitable rush of "vid-ographers".

Using video is your key to success as a professional photographer in the 21st century.

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