How Covid-19 is Affecting the Photo & Video Industry

Published April 22, 2020

Our industry and communities, like so many, have been hit hard at a human and financial level by the coronavirus pandemic. To help support our readers we’ve provided blog posts and podcasts to help disinfect your gear and home/workplace, keep your minds occupied and find resources to cope financially. What hasn’t been collected is data that provides insights into the economic challenges faced by many freelance and self-employed photographers and videographers, whom Lensrentals calls its blog readers, podcast listeners, and its customers.

At the beginning of April, we issued the first in a series of monthly surveys into the financial implications of the pandemic, that will help collate data points to chart what the industry is experiencing and overtime how it is recovering. Or not as the case may be. We will be posting the information to this blog with as much transparency as possible, to enable anyone that wants to understand what is happening to the community, and why additional help and resources are being requested, can do so. We’ll be working with publications and associations representing the professional photography and video making industries to share the survey and results.

A few observations on the data; More than 1,000 professional photographers and videographers responded. We want to focus on the main source of income per participant to gain an understanding that will align with the unemployment resources for each state.

Unsurprisingly more than 96% of respondents suggested their income and or work had been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with on average 78% percent of bookings for April canceled. The next series of questions looked to determine the monthly breakdown of the continued impact. While April can be written down as devastating to a majority of individuals, projecting forward to May looks bleak with approximately 60% of photographers and videographers reporting that almost all, or more than 80%, of their jobs had canceled for the month of April and May.

Has your work and/or income been impacted by COVID-19?OverallPhotographersVideographers 


What impact has COVID-19 had on your expected April bookings or events?OverallPhotoVideo
All or almost all of my jobs have cancelled (80%+)74.55%75.88%67.48%
Most of my jobs have cancelled (50%-80%)14.14%13.58%17.18%
Some of my jobs have cancelled (20% - 50%)3.74%3.88%3.07%
A few jobs have cancelled (Less than 20%)4.44%3.88%7.36%
No impact3.13%2.79%4.91%
Average cancellations: 78%79%74%

What impact has COVID-19 had on your expected May bookings or events?OverallPhotoVideo
All or almost all of my jobs have cancelled (80%+)59.69%60.84%53.99%
Most of my jobs have cancelled (50%-80%)22.56%22.41%23.31%
Some of my jobs have cancelled (20% - 50%)7.08%6.9%7.98%
A few jobs have cancelled (Less than 20%)4.82%4.43%6.75%
No impact5.85%5.42%7.98%
Average cancellations: 71%72%67%

Summer, when many believe the country and businesses will have hopefully returned to operational, the community is hopeful. Average cancellations between June and September are projected to be just under 40% at the moment. Summer to late fall will be crucial for many small businesses that support the most popular time of the year for weddings. We’ll issue another survey at the beginning of May to help determine the continuing financial implications of our communities.

What impact has COVID-19 had on your expected Summer (June - August) bookings or events?OverallPhotoVideo
All or almost all of my jobs have cancelled (80%+)19.98%20.7%16.56%
Most of my jobs have cancelled (50%-80%)20.19%20.58%18.4%
Some of my jobs have cancelled (20% - 50%)17.27%17.31%17.18%
A few jobs have cancelled (Less than 20%)17.9%16.81%22.7%
No impact24.66%24.59%25.15%
Average cancellations: 39%40%35%


If you've lost income from COVID-19, have you applied for any government assistance programs?OverallPhotoVideo
I am trying to or plan to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program loan12.43%11.16%18.52%
I have successfully applied for a Paycheck Protection Program6.22%5.18%10.49%
I am trying to or plan to apply for unemployment25.19%24.17%30.25%
I have successfully applied for unemployment7.31%7.7%5.56%
No plan to apply for assistance32.61%34.53%23.46%

Are you considering leaving the industry due to the loss of income caused by COVID-19?OverallPhotoVideo

For those struggling seeking help, we put together a series of blog posts and podcasts with lists of resources check out during social isolation, how to disinfect gear effectively (blog) (podcast), and ideas for keeping the mind active is we all collectively wait out this virus. Be safe, wash your hands, and hopefully we’ll be through this faster than expected.


Special thanks to Matt Shuck for the BTS header image.


Author: Lensrentals

Articles written by the entire editorial and technical staff at LensRentals.com. These articles are for when there is more than one author for the entire post, and are written as a community effort.

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  • William Morton

    One thing not addressed in this survey is how many of the respondents are F/T photographers or videographers? A colleague saw this and immediately asked how many of those people are “weekend warriors” who have other income from their day job.

  • This coronavirus has spread like wildfire across our nation. A forest fire is a terrible event, yet it is also renewing and transformative. Let’s be honest. We weren’t prepared for this. The disruption this pandemic is causing, we didn’t have a contingency for it, at least not an effective one.

  • Mark Rustad

    How about 40-50% off to try new gear? Hey you never know if you don’t ask…please Roger. Respect, Mark

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