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Opinions of Sunday, 6 May 2018

Columnist: thebftonline.com

The US$100bn photography industry: a new cash-cow for the youth

As unemployment in the country continues to rise, many young people are turning to photography – an industry that is globally estimated to be worth over US$100billion, according to Zion Market research.

Photography studios are popping up in various parts of Accra, and most of them are owned by young men and women who have found good business in the once ‘unattractive’ industry.

Gone are the days when photography was reserved for people who could not further their education to a higher level.

Checks by the B&FT show that the new generation of photographers are urbane and educated, mostly with university degrees, and have used the world wide web to learn the best techniques technology has offered the industry – and they are ‘making it big’, thanks to social media.

Plush wedding ceremonies have boosted the rates photographers charge for coverage, as many young couples have developed a taste for quality photos and videos at their weddings…with the desire to show-off these images on social media coming in for good measure.

Coverage for wedding receptions can reach a high of GH¢10,000 and a low of GH¢1,500, depending on the package clients choose.

The rate card for one of the professional photography studios in Accra – Team1000 words – shows that a couple will pay as much as GH¢10,000 for coverage of both a traditional and civil wedding for a golden package.

A silver package from the same studio for a traditional marriage (engagement) only will cost a couple GH¢2,200 and GH¢3,800 for a wedding only. This means a couple will pay GH¢6,000 if they want both.

Then, for a bronze package, a couple will pay GH¢1,200 for traditional marriage only; and GH¢2,300 for a wedding only.

What accounts for the difference in price includes the time of coverage, the number of pictures that will be printed, and the number of photographers that will be used for the coverage.

Another photo studio, Marmo Studios located in Accra, charges GH¢5,500 for a golden package of both traditional and civil wedding. This package gives the couple 400 pictures from pre- to post-wedding shoots.

The same studio charges GH¢3,500 for a silver package; and GH¢1,500 for a bronze package, all with different benefits attached.

Critica_imagery, another Accra-based studio, charges between GH¢2,300 and GH¢4,000 for a wedding coverage and GH¢1,800 for a traditional wedding.

Others also base their charges strictly on the number of hours they spend at the event.

Asked whether the business is lucrative and how many times in a month they get contracts, CEO of Marmo Studios Daniel Kwabena Marmo responded in the affirmative; saying the more skilled a photographer is, the more his or her appeal.

According to him, hardly does a week passes without his services being sought for weddings and birthdays, among others.

When asked what motivated them into photography, some of the young CEOs said they were pushed by joblessness after school.

Others, though, said they were moved by their passion for nice and quality photographs.

According to Daniel Marmo, his passion for photography began at around age 14 when his father bought a camera for family use.

“When my father bought the camera, I was always interested in being the one to take the photos. And since that period, my interest in photography has remained high. So, I decided to enter full-time when I completed university,” he said.

The CEO of Cliq Kofi studio, Nana Kofi Owusu-Sekyere, said he was also moved by his passion for photography, and that through Youtube he learned to hone his skills in the art.

Timothy Yiadom, CEO of Critica_imagery who was also moved by his passion for photography, decided to take a short course in photography in order to perfect his skills so he could serve his clients better.

According to Zion Market Research, global demand for digital photography was valued at around US$77.66billion in 2015 and is expected to reach approximately US$110.79billion by 2021 – growing at a rate of above 6.1 percent between 2016 and 2021.

But one major challenge Ghana’s young photographers agreed on is the exorbitant cost of cameras. Some of the powerful cameras in the world cost as much US$7,500, an amount most of these start-ups find too high.

Government, they said, could help by developing financial schemes they could rely on to buy the cameras and pay back over a period of time.