Last week I received a request to from one of my photography business friends in Germany who writes for photography magazine PhotoPresse. Klaus wanted to know what my predictions for the future of the photography industry are. The very same day had a private coaching call with one of my clients, a portrait photographer who is very frustrated that he can’t seem to get his people and portrait business moving forward. While I like to stay away from predictions as a rule, this one I feel very confident in making:
I believe that portrait photography is in serious trouble.
And here is why.
Allow me to digress first and give you a little bit of background. The generational consumer behavior is something I spent a considerable amount of time with because I believe it affects the way we do business in a very significant way. Buyers are changing. Even if that is no news to you the why is what matters to your business. Buyers are changing because the generational gap is becoming more prominent and we see its effects everywhere. From what we watch, what we buy, where we go, and hang out, everything is driven by a more intelligent and technology driven behavior. Sadly there is no code in place for how we should do that in a communal type of way but that is what I address in my other business, The Women’s Code and it is an entirely different conversation.
Back to the way buyer behavior has changed. We check reviews on Yelp, consult Trip Advisor, google negative and positive keywords when investigating another person, we check out LinkedIn, and look at Facebook making sure “peeps are legit.” The handshake days are all but gone. That means for your business if you want to make money you need to look at where people are spending it, why they are spending it at this and not that, and which businesses are booming. If they don’t come to you in its most simplistic terms you are not appealing to your buyer because either you offer something obsolete or you market to the wrong buyer. Or you haven’t done the appropriate education and you assume too much.
Personally I consider it a huge advantage that I am at the cusp of being a Baby Boomer to Generation X. To top my good fortune I am the mother to a daughter from the Millennial Generation. My personal evolution is simply driven by my wanting to be able to connect with my child. My advantages are further that I am curious, nosy, and I like to figure out the why.
The baby boomer generation has been at the helm of making decisions for much longer than any other generation. We started very early to be in charge and it feels as if we skipped Generation X (and was there or is there a Generation Y) and we are still in charge. But, that is changing. The Baby Boomers are exiting the work force and also this planet due to old age. We’ve been the largest group for a long time but the next, and even bigger group with a force 78 million strong are the Millennials or as they are also called the lost generation.
They are now entering the work force in huge numbers and they are a force to be reckoned with. Smarter than any other generation, fast, furious, yet lazy, and feeling very entitled. They are our own fault. We raised our children with the consciousness that they matter. Sometimes matter more than we do. We let them interrupt us, stop us, influence our buying decisions, got them what they thought they wanted, and did all of that in the spirit of competitiveness. Much like our parents wanted to afford us a better life we did the same.
This generation believes it matters and they are here to change the world. They believe that they are the most talented and the most knowledgeable. Especially when it comes to technology and content creation and use – they are inventors, creators, and users. They created outlets for their creativity such as Flickr, Instagram, and Pinterest along with hundreds of other specialty sites that are all feeding their mantra: I am current and I matter. Look what I can do and I am willing to look at what you do and I will give you my opinion about it. I don’t care if you are a professional and I am not one either.
Follow me so far? Great, let’s move on to why that matters to portrait photography. There are certain areas of photography where you cannot fake it. Some of the areas are food, architecture, studio photography, still life, and automotive just to name a few. If you don’t know your craft and have the skill you can and will burn and sink. Not so if you are a portrait photographer. Here your skill doesn’t matter.
You may disagree with this statement. And tomorrow we will be looking at the facts and why I believe I am right about this.
What are your thoughts on this so far? Agree with the notion that portrait photography is a dying profession?
P.S. Did you sign up for your New Years Resolution my 7 Step Video Bootcamp on how to find more clients and fill your bank account? It’s free and launches January 6th