Covid-19’s Effect on Wedding Photographers Financially
As 2020 heads towards a close it will be a year no one will forget. For the wedding industry it is a year that has caused many couples to put their dream wedding day on hold, for business and professionals it has caused financial uncertainty and difficulties.
How Coronavirus pandemic has impacted the wedding industry
Each year we run our industry survey looking at weddings from a photographers perspective, from the number of weddings booked, weddings captured, engagement shoot, the list goes on.
However, with this year being just somewhat different, our survey this year has looked at how photographers have been affected financially, how they have coped and adapted, and how they have used this spare time.
For the results of this survey and the purpose of this article we have focused the results on full-time wedding photographers based in the UK.
Weddings in 2020
At the start of 2020 the average number of weddings booked was 27, however only 4 on average were actually captured and went ahead of which on average 3 were under restricted UK guidelines of 15 – 30 people depending on the restrictions at the time.
With photographers rescheduling as many weddings as possible, on average 5 bookings were lost. This could be due to no confirmed new date yet, but also a smaller wedding under restrictions or their new date not being available with their photographer.
Going into 2021
At the time of the survey, photographers had on average 30 weddings booked for 2021. This may have increased with more couples moving their wedding, or an increase in couples booking their photographer for next year as things look more positive.
When moving weddings to next year 92% of photographers just moved the date without charge, 5% added a charge for doing this and 3% did this but would charge their 2021 prices.
When asked ‘Are you worried financially about next year?’ 75% said yes.
From comments made within the survey there is a strong worry about the uncertainty of next year, with the first few months of the year looking difficult and the impact on couples confidence which will have a huge impact on the whole wedding industry. With many couples moving their wedding from 2020 to 2021, there is a concern of couples moving again to 2022.
This survey was done before information of the vaccine roll out was announced in the UK, although this will take many months.
One comment left said “I worry that weddings may still not be able to go ahead for the first few months of 2021, and I worry that weddings I have booked in that have already been postponed, will be postponed yet again.”
How photographers are dealing with Covid-19
While weddings are on hold, photographers are still being photographers and have used their time to keep shooting. The most popular photographs have been engagement and family shots all of which can be done safely. Other styles include doorstep shoots, lifestyle and landscape photography. Other popular avenues have been brand, product and property photography.
With such diversification away from weddings we have read quite a few comments with to photographers wanting to ensure this is maintained and that they are able to offer more then just weddings. With some photographers setting up separate websites and branding to offer these different services.
Although many have diversified due to the pandemic, many look set to continue in the future along side wedding photography which is their primary service.
Not all photographers have been able to diversify, and many have seemed alternative employment be it full or part time. With child care restrictions and schools being closed hey have spent this time with their families.
From a marketing point of view, advertising is still continuing, however with an increase in social and a reduction in spending. 34% said they were spending more time doing social media posting. 24% said they were still continuing their marketing spend, but many have either stopped or reduced this. Many comments that they have taken time to review and improve their website, and spent time blogging, writing posts and sharing weddings from last year.
The impact of this year on Photographers
With the majority of weddings not happening and the income from these bookings lost for this year it has had a big impact on photographers financially and course for concern and worry going into next year.
At the time of our survey 41% of full time professional wedding photographers have considered changing career.
From a financial perspective there have been different support packages available in the UK from the government, however with these there are also restrictions which may or may not have made you eligible. Depending on how much you have earned, how many years accounts and how you are set up effects if you are eligible for this support, and from our survey not all could get this support.
50% were able to use the government self-employed support scheme, with 35% using the bounce back loan scheme too. Some took our a personal loan, or got a part time of full time role to supplement this loss. Many had saving that they have had to dip into or a partner that has been able to carry on working and able to manage the household outgoings.
We gave photographers a chance to share their thoughts on the industry and the impact it has had, below we have picked out some of these.
‘It’s been a hard year all round and as well as the financial impact on the wedding industry, the mental strain this has put on individuals has been immense. The industry has shown great resilience in working through this as well as always putting their couples at the front of what they’re doing.’
‘I think it will be impacted for a bit longer I’ve not had any new bookings just reschedules. I think we will see this effect for the beginning bit of next year but then hopefully things should return to normal.’
‘I think the impact of this year is quite full on. I think it’s actually quite exciting to see how so many have diversified and found time to do things that they’ve wanted to but not had time to before. But it’s devastating to see so many businesses folding that were previously successful. I think the industry will look very different.’
‘Myself and most of my fellow photographers have couples postponing until 2022 – and some cases wanting to reserve several dates just in case. It’s making it impossible for us to plan our future income or when things will start looking up. Many fear we can’t survive until then either.’
When going through these comments ‘Devastated’ was a word that we kept seeing and something we can all relate to. While there is lots of sadness and frustration, there is also lots of optimism, if we can make it out to the other side.
While there is still a lot of uncertainty over next year and how weddings will be impacted, there is cautious optimism that things will get better. January and February will be difficult, but hope that come March and April weddings will be going ahead and the number of guests being increased. The industry has as a whole has been hit hard and there have been many that have not survived, however another year like this one will have even worst consequences.