Professional photographers share mixed feelings about saturated market


With social media making photo sharing easier, a generation of millennials have inundated American culture with personal photography, documenting every moment of life from the highlights to their breakfasts.

Photographers must learn to adapt and set themselves apart as the photo industry becomes more and more saturated and technology changes, according to photographer and videographer Preston Olsen.

“As we become more visually oriented and interested in photography, it challenges photographers to create more exciting new images,” Olsen said. “It is a lot harder to impress my clients now than it was five years ago.”

This is especially true in Utah, which has the most photographers per capita of any state, according to several years of traffic analysis on the professional photography blog, Improve Photography.

Professional photographer Alice Cannon keeps improving her skills to set herself apart from others in the industry. (Gray Anderson)

Alice Cannon, a professional photographer in Provo, said for her this means honing her unique style to set herself apart from other photographers.

“I don’t feel that more people becoming photographers has hindered my business because I have such a unique editing and posing style,” Cannon said. “If people want that, they can’t go anywhere else to find it. It’s all about finding your style and owning it.

Another Utah photographer Adem Teh said at times it may feel a bit too crowded in Utah, but everyone is just seeking recognition, and he can still see the good as photographers help each other through sharing equipment and teaching each other.

“I feel that it’s really competitive, but you can still see and tell which photos are the ones that speak to you as great,” Teh said. “Everyone has different tastes and preferences, so I think the diversity in photography style is great.”

Despite the high concentration of photographers, Utah was still considered to be the best state in the nation for photographers to live in 2016, according to a study published by Improve Photography. The study pooled its data from 20 different data sets to determine the best locations.

Improv Photography picked Utah as the number one state based on the amount earned per wedding, cost of living, beauty of the state, proximity to photo workshops — which indicated a location worth shooting — and weather conditions.

“One of the things that makes Utah such an excellent photography destination is that it is so diverse,” according to the article.

The saturated market, along with improved technology, makes it easier for hobbyists to get started in photography, according to BYU computer science student and photographer Daniel Jones. Jones said this has an impact on professionals.

“For hobbyists, photography has become an easier hobby to get into, but its hard for hobbyists to feel unique,” Jones said. “For professionals, they’re needed less by their clients, but their ability to produce good results is at an all-time high.”

There’s a big difference between the amateur enthusiast and a serious professional, Olsen said.

Teh said while owning a good camera can make anyone a “photographer,” there is still a lot more that goes into good photography.

“I’ve met so many of these so-called photographers that have the best and latest equipment, but their output seems to not meet that expectation,” Teh said.

Advancing photo technology also affects professional photojournalists. Seventy-seven percent of Americans today own smartphones — which they can use to document events live as they happen — according to the Pew Research Center.

“The biggest improvement that I have read about has been in relation to photojournalism,” BYU photography professor Robert Machoian said. “Rather than a network or newspaper sending photographers out to report on an event, individuals involved in that event are reporting on it as it’s happening.”

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