Full-time photographers are noticing an increase in bookings after struggling to make ends meet when events were cancelled for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With safety precautions in place, rising financial stability of clients and strategies to keep events running, photographers are able to return to work, even if that work looks different than it did before the pandemic began. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 133,500 professional photographers registered in the United States in 2019. Although most professional photographers may have never registered as unemployed, their opportunities drastically shrunk when COVID-19 entered the U.S. Sporting events, concerts, weddings and other events were postponed until later in the year or were cancelled all together.
For wedding photographers specifically, making a regular income has been extremely difficult. According to Dhanusha Sivajee, chief marketing officer at The Knot Worldwide, 95% of weddings were postponed in the year 2020. Photographers often expect to make the majority of their money during the peak wedding season of late spring to late fall. However, most weddings were pushed to late fall or into the coming year of 2021.
Despite the lack of business being made from March through the end of the summer, photographers are now receiving regular bookings and are being invited to photograph weddings and events. The weddings that were pushed off in March are happening this fall or in the early spring in addition to the typical fall family, graduation and professional head shot sessions. People are beginning to feel more and more comfortable with the idea of booking photographers and they have hope that events in the coming year will be able to happen as planned.
Ann Arbor-based photographer Marc-Gregor Campredon works for the University of Michigan, in addition to being a wedding, family and portrait photographer. Campredon has been in the business since 2009 in France and 2014 in the U.S. He is married and has two daughters as well. His main source of income comes from his photography. In fact, his business “provides around half of [his] household budget.” He knows that the year is not yet over, but currently, he has “barely generated 30% of a normal year’s income.”
When U of M was closed and families and couples were forced into lockdown, he was no longer able to continue working. Like many photographers, he was forced to put his work on pause despite the excitement that he was feeling at the beginning of the year. Before March 2020, “the year started very well. [He] had secured newer clients and was potentially looking at one of [his] best years, if not the best.”
The impact that COVID-19 had on Campredon’s life is not an isolated case. Many photographers were unable to work and provide for their families the way that they did before the pandemic. However, as the country settles into a new way of operating, the need for photographers still remains. Campredon, along with many creators and photographers, will be balancing their regular workload within the next year.