Imaging USA is one of the largest annual photography trade shows in the United States. Hosted by the Professional Photographers of America (PPA), it draws thousands of professional, student, and enthusiast photographers every year. But just how many people actually attend this massive event?
A Major Photography Industry Event
Imaging USA is considered one of the most important events in the photography industry calendar. It brings together a huge range of exhibitors, educational opportunities, networking events, and more. For many working photographers or those looking to turn their passion into a career, it’s an unmissable opportunity.
The event is held over several days, usually in January. It takes place in a different US city each year. Recent locations have included Nashville, Atlanta, and Las Vegas.
Examining Attendance Figures
So what are the actual Imaging USA attendance statistics? Let’s break down the numbers:
- The total attendance typically ranges from 10,000 to 15,000 each year.
- Between 7,000-12,000 of these are Professional Photographers of America members.
- Several thousand student photographers also attend.
- The remaining attendees are photography enthusiasts, vendors, press, and other industry professionals.
To put these attendee figures into perspective, Imaging USA sees higher attendance than many well-known entertainment industry trade shows. For example, the Game Developers Conference and PAX West both draw around 30,000 visitors. Comic Con sees around 130,000 guests. So Imaging USA’s total of 10,000-15,000 is very significant for a photography industry event.
Tracking Attendance Trends
Attendance at Imaging USA has remained relatively stable over the past decade. But there have been some interesting trends and fluctuations.
Let’s look at some key years:
A few things stand out from these numbers:
- Attendance hit a peak of 13,151 at Nashville in 2018.
- The 2019 Atlanta show saw a drop to 12,519 visitors.
- The 2022 Las Vegas Imaging USA saw the lowest attendance in recent years with just 9,712.
The decline in 2022 can likely be attributed to continued impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. Travel restrictions and health concerns probably prevented some people from attending.
But overall, Imaging USA has maintained exceptionally strong attendance of 10,000-15,000 visitors each year. This is quite impressive for an industry trade show.
Who Attends Imaging USA?
Now that we’ve looked at the overall attendee numbers, who actually goes to Imaging USA? The mix of visitors includes:
- Professional photographers – These are working photographers who are PPA members. Portrait, wedding, commercial and other pros attend for education, networking, and business opportunities.
- Students – Photography and arts students can attend unique educational presentations and interact with industry leaders.
- Enthusiasts – Amateur and hobbyist photographers also attend Imaging USA to improve their skills and learn from the best.
- Vendors and brands – Hundreds of companies exhibit at Imaging USA to promote products and services.
- Instructors and educators – Leading photographers host seminars and hands-on learning sessions.
- Industry press – Journalists and content creators cover the latest photography trends.
With this diverse mix of attendees, Imaging USA becomes a melting pot for the entire photography community. Connections form across specialties and experience levels. It provides invaluable in-person interaction for this creative industry.
Why Do So Many People Attend?
What exactly is it that draws 10,000-15,000 photography pros, students, and enthusiasts to Imaging USA each year? There are several key reasons this show attracts such large crowds:
- Networking – Imaging USA provides huge networking opportunities across the industry.
- Earning continuing education credits – Photographers can gain certification credits by attending seminars.
- Viewing new products and services – With hundreds of exhibitors, there’s always something new and innovative to see.
- Learning new skills – Dozens of seminars and hands-on classes teach new photography skills.
- Gaining inspiration – Attendees can find motivation and creative inspiration for their work.
- Competitions and awards – Imaging USA hosts photography competitions that photographers can enter to boost their career.
From established working pros to students just starting out, there are valuable experiences for photographers at every level.
How Does Attendance Help the Photography Industry?
This huge annual event also benefits the photography industry as a whole. With so many attendees, Imaging USA helps drive:
- Innovation – The latest gear and technology trends are pushed forward.
- Education – Photographers continually improve, keeping the industry thriving.
- Commerce – Vendors connect with potential customers and grow their businesses.
- Ideas – Creatives leave inspired and energized to create great work.
- Careers – Emerging and student photographers find job opportunities to succeed professionally.
The lasting impacts of Imaging USA ripple through the entire photography field year after year. It helps ensure photography stays relevant, innovative, and energized.
Attendance Also Benefits Host Cities
With Imaging USA drawing up to 15,000 visitors, host cities also gain significant benefits. These include:
- Increased local hotel bookings and convention center revenue.
- Economic impacts from attendees dining, shopping, and spending locally.
- Promoting the city as a great tourism and convention destination.
Cities across the US compete to host Imaging USA each year. The busy week of room bookings, facility rentals, local transportation use, and money spent makes Imaging USA a coveted convention.
How Does Imaging USA Promote Attendance?
Media coverage helps attract people to Imaging USA. But the majority of marketing happens directly through industry groups like:
- Professional Photographers of America (PPA)
- Wedding Photojournalist Association (WPJA)
- Student Photographic Society (SPS)
These organizations heavily promote Imaging USA to their members via direct mail, email, social media, and websites. Exhibitors also spread the word to their followers. Word of mouth is key – photographers tell each other that Imaging USA is a “must-attend” event.
Future Imaging USA Events
What does the future hold for Imaging USA attendance in the years ahead? Here’s a quick look:
- 2023 – Nashville – Expecting 13,000+ visitors based on strong 2018 turnout.
- 2024 – Atlanta – Should draw 12,000-13,000 based on current trends.
- 2025 – Unannounced location – Numbers will depend on location but likely 12,000+.
Barring external factors like COVID-19, attendance at Imaging USA should remain robust. Photography is becoming increasingly popular which bodes well for future shows. Expect Imaging USA to continue attracting over 10,000 pro, student, and enthusiast photographers annually.
Let’s review the key points about Imaging USA attendance:
- Total attendance is typically 10,000 – 15,000 each year
- The majority of attendees are PPA professional photographer members
- Students are the next largest attendee group
- Vendors, press, and enthusiasts make up the remaining visitors
- Attendance hit 13,151 in 2018 Nashville, but dropped to 9,712 for 2022 Las Vegas
- The show provides invaluable education, inspiration, networking, and motivation
- It helps drive industry innovation and energizes creative careers
- Future Imaging USA events should continue seeing strong 10,000+ attendance
Imaging USA has maintained its status as one of the largest and most important annual photography events. Despite small declines in recent years, attendance remains very strong compared to other industry trade shows. With between 10,000-15,000 attendees, it is a testament to the passion and dedication of professional, student, and enthusiast photographers alike.
For anyone looking to succeed in the photography industry, Imaging USA is a star on the calendar each year. The opportunity to learn, connect, and find inspiration simply can’t be replicated through online events alone. By bringing the community together in person, Imaging USA helps advance photography and fuels creative careers for years to come.