Monday, March 19, 2007

The photo landscape

I dont sell my shots and I dont intend to.  But I frequent a lot of sites where both Pros and Amateurs butt heads.  It's amusing, especially seeing the 'dinosaurs' ramble on and on about how these changes are killing their business, like the world owes them something for all of their creativity alone.  I'm sorry the world is changing and you have to adapt to survive.  You might have heard about this guy named Darwin....  He had some philosophies that might be helpful in this situation
(John Madden Voice)  Now HERE's a Guy who really gets it! (End Madden Voice)
I've been reading some of Dan Heller's blog recently and I think he nails EXACTLY how things are progressing and how individuals are getting lost in their own small part of the picture and not seeing the grand sweeping changes that are happening.

Some choice quotes:
[quote]As more companies engage in the business of licensing images, photographers with credibility will gravitate to the sites that offer a better return on their money. Naturally, these will be sites who have good traffic, good policies, good user-interfaces, etc. In fact, I've seen rather high-end pro photographers with their images on Flickr (including yours truly), even though there are currently no image sales opportunities. Imagine what would happen if there were. In effect, the free-market system gives incentive for companies to attract the quality photographers with good reputations because it's a win-win.[/quote]

I will give yet another nod to why I think Getty's acquisitions of so many companies may prove to be for naught. With the exception of perhaps a few niche players, the most basic, fundamental truism about photography remains: there are more people who have it as a hobby than as a profession, and the barrier to entry is low. There is no way you can eat up all the Doritos in the world because, as their ads on TV used to say, "Go ahead, we'll make more!" It's true that Getty's objective is less about controlling the images as it is about controlling the places that sell them. And while they may achieve a short-term monopoly on certain distribution outlets, which may result in higher prices for some small specialty markets, that short honeymoon period for Getty will end once photo-sharing sites become new outlets for photographers where the open market can decide their rates.

The big paradigm leap that many photographers have yet to make is the fact that the commodity market exists, that the rules are different, and that Getty is moving towards it.
First and foremost, unlike software and business productivity, where MS was able to corner the market because companies were so locked in, both in low prices, and legacy investment, photos are quite different. The list I provided earlier applies: that it's a cheap and easy commodity to produce on a wide scale. The most compelling difference is that photographs can be made by people who didn't graduate with Degrees in Computer Science.

Here's the bottom line tho!

What does all this mean for photographers? Well, first and foremost, stop thinking it's all about you. Large companies really don't need you the way you think. The more you believe you're a chicken coming home to roost, the most likely you'll be the one on the chopping block.

There are two ways to deal with this.

First, change your perception of how you view the business side of your job. For example, in all the years I've been in the tech world, I have never heard a software engineer say, "don't make FREE software or shareware! You're hurting the market for everyone else!" In fact, the very objective of most start-up tech companies is to get a footing by competing in any and every way they possibly can to get visibility and users.
Next, don't look at price as the beginning and ending of the photo business. (See my previous blog entry for more on this, as well as this article.) Building your career is about a lot more than just submitting your images to a stock agency and being expected to get (what you believe to be) fair compensation.
Accept that business models change, and that the industry does too. Today, it's industry bifurcating into two distinct groups, creating opportunities at both ends. The mega-large distributors, and the smaller end businesses, usually individuals or small-scale specialty shops.
Indeed, the very nature of this bifurcation means that good individual photographers and small-scale photo shops will regain much of the businesses they lost to the larger agencies as they grew up. Here is where the name-brand recognition ("celebrity star power") really can work for you.

The primary misunderstanding involved here is the assumption that successful stock photography sales boils down to price. While I've said many times in the past that photography is a commodity with infinite supply, this does not mean that all units within this supply chain have equal value, or that all merchants compete solely on price.
The dinos can either adapt and flourish or die off.  Complaining won't help, but smart thinking and nimble movements might get them onto even better footing than where they were to start with.

Well, is now completely unreadable

Go take a look.


It’s completely unreadable and totally not the wired I’ve loved since it launched a bajillion years ago.  Apparently they’ve become a victim of the merge with Conde Nast or something and become ‘Tired’ like so many of the pans they listed in the famous Tired/Wired lists.


Congrats on killing one of the most useful web sites ever. 

Thursday, March 08, 2007

It's ALREADY too late.

Yep.  I'm sick and tired of being treated like a criminal.  I have paid for every piece of software and hardware I've ever used except those that were provided to me gratis for review.


Wake up people, don't let yourselves be pushed around.