How many professional photographers are there?
The short answer is: no one knows for sure. We can make an educated guess, though.
Just in the U.S., there are 124,900 professional photographers according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. That number is probably an under-estimate, due to the sampling method, so for our purposes, let’s double that number to include the self-employed and say there are around 300,000. Sounds like a lot, right?
How many amateur photographers are there?
Again, there’s no way of knowing an exact number, but we can make a guess based on the number of smart phone users.
Smart phones are no longer phones with cameras, they’ve become cameras with phones. Sure, compact and film cameras still sell and may sell to those who don’t use a smart phone, but let’s be conservative and just count smart phone users for now.
There are currently 206,567,692 smart phone users in the U.S. according to Pew Research Center. That’s 64% of the country.
No doubt, that also includes professional photographers, so let’s subtract our 300,000 estimate of pros and it brings us to 206,267,692 people in the U.S. who own a camera, yet aren’t professionals.
I think we’ve been overly conservative in our estimates so far (favoring the pros), but that still works out to only 0.14544% of camera owners being professional photographers.
99.9% of the camera-owning public in the U.S. are not professional photographers.
The rules, techniques and gear of professionals do not apply to 99.9% of us.
The amateurs run this industry. Never forget that.