Day 243: I don’t want to be the one to say it can’t be done

Day 243: I don't want to be the one to say it can't be done

Day 243: I don’t want to be the one to say it can’t be done

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

There’s a new start-up doing the rounds called Snappr, and the media is calling it “the Uber of photography”. They basically match you up with a photographer in your area. For $59, you get a 30-minute session and five high-res photos. The rate decreases with longer sessions – $209 will get you a three-hour shoot and 20 high-res photos.

Here’s the thing about Snappr: delivering a person from point A to point B is one thing, but creating a photo is an entirely creative endeavour. This isn’t to say Uber drivers are all the same, but a system like this completely devalues the creative worth of a photograph.

And as a media professional who routinely hires photographers to shoot books and events, I’d question what I’d use this service for. Corporate portraiture to update the company org chart? A new LinkedIn profile?

I mean, seriously, five pics from a 30-minute shoot is pretty limited. Sure, you can buy additional photos for a few bucks a pop (that’s where the cost really goes up), but otherwise that averages out to one photo every six minutes. I’m not about to start prescribing an ideal average, but that strikes me as pretty low.

The other thing is, how are the final photos selected? Do they go through any post-processing? Is it done for free? Am I to assume lighting, make-up, and styling don’t form part of the equation?

I get that photography isn’t always glamorous. In fact, most of the time, it’s not. Sometimes a client literally only needs two or three photos, and often they just want a photo taken against a wall, or maybe a painting that completely clashes with their clothing. There will always be a demand for that.

There are also a lot of people out there who wouldn’t know a professional photo from a photo taken on a phone to save their lives. If I were in their shoes, I can see how Snappr might be appealing.

But I’m not one of those people. I pay writers and photographers for their time and creativity; and I don’t insult them by finding ways to bargain them down. Trust me: word spreads quickly among the creative community when it comes to identifying the clients nobody wants. You don’t want to be known as the person who preys on young and inexperienced writers, designers and whatnot.

Happily, Snappr isn’t the only service of its kind out there. There’s Imagebrief, which has been around for a few years. On Imagebrief, there are buyers and sellers. The buyers put out a brief for the kind of image they want and how much they’re willing to pay, and the sellers compete with each other by putting their photos up for selection.

That seems a little fairer to me: if you don’t like what they’re offering, you don’t have to get involved.

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