Can You Still Make a Living as a Photographer? – Info Entrepreneurship
There are two Bs in B2B (business-to-business), representing two sets of customers who do business with each other:
- Commercial photographers who create and own intellectual property
- Commercial publishers who license and publish it
Both sets of B2B customers are complaining loud and clear:
- Photographers say, “We’ve lost control over pricing our own work.”
- Publishers say, “Stock photo catalogs offer too many choices, and too few good ones.”
Only a broker — a platform — connecting commercial publishers with the photographers they trust and hire to shoot jobs has access to the symmetrical information flowing dynamically between them. It facilitates transactions with actionable market intelligence. It also enables the seamless capture of premium residuals for rights-managed stock photo licensing as a routine part of the interactive jobs workflow. Such a broker understands that photographers and publishers have equal standing as customers.
No company is monetizing either fees or residuals, let alone both. Thus, one broker, by leveling the economic playing field, will consolidate the worldwide community of pro photographers, to redefine the Commercial Photo marketplace, growing share and revenue across the board.
The emergence of crowd-sourced, consumer-to-business (C2B) stock photo sales created a new customer segment: shopkeepers, freelancers, and startups that previously had no need to publish pictures, let alone the wherewithal to pay for them, and now need photos to fill up their Web sites. Middlemen stepped in to capitalize on this need.
At first, Enterprise publishers got a windfall, paying the same cheap licensing fees for photos as retail consumers. But a crowd-sourced supply chain inevitably led to commodified prices for an increasingly bloated and stale inventory: photobesity.
The incumbents believe that revenue is possible only through high-volume sales at low prices. That philosophy is belied by the fact that they are unable to grow revenue, despite an obvious increase in demand for photography. Their error was to recklessly lump B2B transactions together with emerging C2B sales into one bargain basement bin. That‘s why revenue throughout the industry is static.
This seasoned photographer and founder is both astonished and bemused by investors who, time after time, apply the rules of conventional consumer-facing businesses to the steeply vertical Enterprise of commercial photography. Their failure to appreciate its idiosyncrasies — even for B2B — is the very reason an opportunity exists to disrupt it in the first place.
This circumstance elicits a rhetorical but unapologetically indignant question: How many more times must the latest razzle-dazzle team of MBAs and Ph.D. engineers, with ZERO experience in photography, sing the same old song to credulous investors before they all realize it ends on the wrong note — every time?
Investors might be forgiven fortheir confusion because both the Commercial Photo and Social Photo markets use cameras as tools of their respective trades. Less pardonable, however, is their inability to differentiate between the two separate segments of the Commercial Photo marketplace.
The differences between the Enterprise B2B segment (familiar to photographers and publishers, serving brands and media) and the Retail C2B segment (familiar to the public at large, serving shopkeepers, freelancers, and startups) are as profound as the differences between chess and checkers: two different games with very different rules, whose only similarity begins and ends with a playing board; just as any similarity between two profoundly different business models begins and ends with a camera. The upshot is, ironically, the most lucrative segment of the most literally obvious enterprise in the world lies hidden in plain sight. Big corporations, along with an aggregation of small companies, spend billions of dollars every year to make sure you see the photographs they produce every day, aiming to influence the commercial, social, and political decisions you make every day. This workings of this essential industry are invisible to founders and investors — consumers too.
Article Prepared by Ollala Corp