The ever changing world of photography had many photographers fuming last week when the world’s largest photographic agency – Getty, announced that it was allowing easy access to over 35 million images online – for FREE!!
In an attempt to starve off piracy, it has allowed its stock images to be freely shared through online Social Media such as Pinterest, Tumbler, Twitter or embed them directly into websites.
Every genre is available from celebrity shots, stock images, sports events to nature shots, the only thing missing being current news events, for which media outlets will still have to pay their subscriptions.
Such a policy would of course rattle some cages and get many photographers out there upset. I for one took it as yet another nail in the coffin of my previous journalism career. But hey, I saw the writing on the wall long before this multinational decision.
The ever changing world of photography
Its certainly a shame to see this day arrive, the realisation and devaluing of photography. It used to be taken for granted that photographers who worked and generated content, amassed libraries of work that generated healthy royalty cheques. These payments proved lucrative for some and often formed the back bone to a photographers retirement pension.
Yet for all this fuss, right or wrong, there is only one thing that is for certain – you cant hold back the tides of change!
Yes, photography (IMOO) has been devalued with so many people now having access to cheap technology. Everyone thinks they are a photographer, just because they have expendable income, a pro camera or the latest iPhone. They have images of all there nearest and dearest’ key moments, holidays, weddings, Bar Mitzvah, births, first steps and school proms.
They may not appreciate the technical skills acquired by a true professional who always gets the defining shot no matter the conditions, yet they are prepared to take their chances. If their photo is a dud, they deleted and retake, delete and re-take…
There are people who do value photography
But don’t dishearten, there are people who do value photography – clients. They do exist, its just that the rules of engagement have changed! Selling and controlling the use of an editorial image nowadays may be nigh on impossible, yet …
Where does it leave us as wedding photographers?
Threatened…. NO. Not as long as we are prepared to be dynamic in our approach and the service we provide. Service is key and always will be, its what people want and appreciate.
They may get distracted for a while with their own gadgets, but there will always be people who appreciate offering the whole package. From concept through to its delivery, strong imagery coupled with carefully researched and presented products, whether they be contemporary wall art installations or wedding albums.
In the last 30 years or so we have seen similar shifts in the market place with traditional businesses having to change their established / traditional ways of reaching their customers.
British town centres, High Street traders – many have disappeared from sight. Some have weathered the storm, but many shop units still stand empty. The economic climate changed with more online sales taking clients, Supermarkets built Malls outside the towns and many independent businesses went under. Fast food chains moved in along with pound shops with quality being replaced for convenience!
This analogy is very fitting to apply to the digital age of commercial photography with it having so many similarities. Thankfully though Its not all gloom and doom – If we take a closer look at what is currently happening across the country in our own town centres.
We still have the fast food outlets and a good percentage of empty shop units, but if we look at the new businesses that have been created and what they are doing we will see something new and refreshing.
People have become bored with cheap and convenient. Dont get me wrong it still has its place with demand still being strong, but people’s taste has developed into being one of an acquired educated taste.
There are probably more small independent boutique styled businesses offering distinctive products, selectively sourced from around the world. At the same time when it comes to cuisine, when you visit a local wine bar you are offered high quality food with organic meats, smoked or cured along vegetables fresh from the ground. All locally sourced from a supplier with the desire to offer quality and support ‘local’ business.
Suppliers have raised their game offering distinctive products to satisfy the growing demand from a new emerging client base. One that is aware of quality, seeking refinement and service, whilst simultaneously wanting to support and encourage ‘local’ business.
Life is about change!
Life is about change and its those that embrace it early will be the ones that derive most benefit. If like me, you are a wedding Photographer take a close look at your products and the service you deliver, continually hone your skills, polish and polish some more.
Dont shoot the messenger – Getty just announced the reflected the change in the market place. Clients will always appreciate quality with giving you custom and loyalty in return. The work is there for the taking, just think smart and its yours for the taking!