Trends in Photography
There is no question things are changing when it comes to the business of photography. Its driven by changes in our culture, i.e., families don't get portraits as often as they did, the kids might still sit for pictures but not as often, and on the commercial side stock photo prices have dropped through the roof so you just don't sell for the money you did. Small stock companies doing on demand stock photography are now paying $24 for 3 pictures. Wow. Commercial photography is still viable but you are competing with so many more studios now, you have to be offering something different to be noticed to drive people to want to buy your "style". This is true too for portraits or lifestyle types of photography and yes even weddings, which is probably the most lucrative photography still in demand. Fashion locally is there, barely living but there for certain types of work. There is work out there but you need to do something to set yourself apart from the many others clamoring for the same business, You need to price accordingly too.
Photographers come in many shapes and sizes in terms of what they offer and can do. Ability is all over the map. There are natural light only photographers, those not possessing the knowledge to use lights indoors and outdoors. I've run across many that don't understand fully how lighting and exposure works. They have not mastered their cameras. I'm glad they aren't doctors. They shoot on auto modes not quite trusting themselves to shoot manually where they can exercise creativity beyond what the camera is programmed for. Probably 70% or more are "shoot and share" charging $50 to $100 per session and passing along every file they take for that amount. They give away the work! That won't even come close to paying for a camera and lens for several years, not to mention their time is free, they absorb travel and other fees they don't think about. They produce very flat, uninteresting pictures but they are usually better than what a cell phone produces and the neighbor Mom's that are their business pool love the pics. I was told by one above average photographer that rarely does any of the Mom's care about quality, they only care if the child smiles. I wondered why you can't have both? Would that be worth anything?
Composition is becoming very static and "me too" oriented. Open up any photo sharing site and look at pictures of kids, families, seniors, or anything similar and notice the out of focus backgrounds, pastel like colors, poses of kids with flowers, babies, in a tub/basket/boat/sled/pedal car/..../.... and so on. Usually the subject is posed in front of the sun producing flare and the pic a tad over exposed to take advantage of it. Not a lot of variety or creativity out there. This is why if you work differently, you might just get noticed if someone sees your pics. Be careful though, audiences are fickle. I've done some break-the-mold posing with subjects and been very pleased only to be asked if they can do the traditional two rows, sunken shoulder shot. Seriously, people have preferred that.
Still, if you change things up you just might survive. I'm talking about full time photographers, not the photographers that also have full time jobs and shoot on weekends for $50. Sure you will always find people that will be willing to pay $50 and no more, putting little value on real photography. But you get what you pay for - every time. Those customers aren't the ones you would want anyway if you are a pro, because quite simply, you could never build a business off that customer. They will never pay for quality. If you do think outside the box, work your own projects, then that seems to be the way to flourish. You have to provide something others aren't. Maybe its using a 30' camera mast to shoot real estate. Very different even from that of drones. Up high and controlling the light. Yeah. Photos are still in demand to help sell products, maybe more than ever. We are a visual society and its said on average your photo has 2-3 seconds to "catch" the eye of a customer. That food ad needs to be different, needs to show the texture, possibly the juiciness, or freshness, it needs to make someone crave it and you have 2 seconds. If you can light and style food well enough, you'll have work. Same for cars, that real estate I mentioned and pretty much everything else, even musician promotional shots. Your photos have to say more, tingle more senses than ever and if you can master that, you should have plenty of work because most photographers can't do that. They are followers, they will be doing what you are doing years from now, when you are doing something else.