Top Trends for 2021: Digital Imaging

January 19, 2021

To the relief of most everyone we have finally left 2020 behind and are looking forward to 2021 with great anticipation. Some of the trends from 2020 will carry forward into the New Year, while others will reflect the market dynamics of the year ahead.

Coronavirus Effects Linger into 2021

One thing that will linger into 2021 are the effects of the Coronavirus. Rise Above Research expects that sales of digital cameras and smartphones will start the year off slow (but better than 2020) and by mid-year may ramp back up to pre-2020 levels as we put COVID-19 in the rear view mirror. 2020 will long be remembered as the “Year of the COVID-19 pandemic.” The lockdowns, travel restrictions, event cancelations, business shutdowns, and high unemployment rates all led to dramatic declines in sales of digital cameras and smartphones. Originally, the expectation was that the virus would be under control before the end of 2020. This did not come true.

Hope is on the horizon for 2021. Vaccines are now available and being administered, but it will take time to inoculate the majority of the general population. State and local governments will remain cautious about lifting restrictions. It could be early Summer before most travel and large event restrictions are lifted. We don’t expect floodgates to open but there should be a spike in events (parties, weddings, vacations, concerts, sporting events, etc.) taking place. This will lead to more photo taking opportunities by the general population and more job opportunities for professionals.

One Photography Community

Another important trend for 2021 is the formation of “One Photography Community.” Rise Above Research anticipates that a grassroots effort to unify the photo industry will emerge in 2021. The photography market has been fragmented since the introduction of digital. Each vendor has only had its best interest at heart. Not enough effort has been made by the industry in the last several years to promote photography as one category. It is time to speak with one voice again.

We have long advocated that the ILC market should be considered one digital interchangeable lens camera market and that the perceived battle between DSLRs and mirrorless cameras be abandoned. With the sales of cameras shrinking each year, the industry is not in a position to be competing amongst themselves. This is a lose-lose scenario. Instead, all the players in the market should come together and focus their efforts on expanding the market again, reaching out to create new photographers, and helping existing photographers enhance their skills. Only then will photography thrive again.

These trends are two of the top ten for 2021 that we published in our 2021 Road Map: Digital Imaging Advisory Service report. Rise Above Research has also published road maps for the Photo Merchandise and Photo Printing markets.