Photography’s Dirty Little Secret
We did a great deal of research before adopting our new business model, commonly referred to in the photography community as “shoot-and-burn”. (Shooting digital photos and burning them to a CD delivered to the customer with full or limited reprinting rights.) Although it’s a relatively new concept, it’s catching on quickly and we believe, represents the future of portrait photography.
Photographers work hard and deserve to be paid adequately for their work and talent. But when you browse online services like Mpix, where many photographers actually have your photos printed, the problem becomes obvious. We’re simply removing the bloated markup per print, cutting out the middle man and charging a single sitting fee. There are no hidden after-charges and life is much simpler for both customer and photographer.
Not surprisingly, this model has come under fierce attack from many professional photographers. In most cases, they’re the same people who held on to their film cameras until it became blatantly obvious that digital photography would make film obsolete. Not accepting the inevitable in advance left them scrambling to purchase new equipment and cramming to learn a whole new set of tools and method of workflow. Many are still struggling to learn Photoshop editing techniques, leaving them behind those of us who have practiced doing so for years.
Change is always hard, but it is also the very thing moving us toward the goals of 1) producing better photographs and 2) offering those products to our customers in a more efficient and economical manner. While no one can predict the future with 100% accuracy, doing proper research and using it to prepare for the future is simply good business practice.
This business model isn’t really new though. We see something similar happening in the entertainment industry in regard to digital file distribution. You can find similar instances dating back to the time when English scribes were being replaced by the printing press, Nothing New Under The Copyright-Eclipsed Sun:
You can’t let anybody read any book for free! Not a single book will be sold ever again! Nobody will be able to live off their writing! No author will write a single book ever again if you pass this law!”
Such nonsense seems humorous to us now, but when compared to the digital distribution methods of today, one can’t help but draw the obvious comparison.
The inspiration for this post today was a recent entry from Scott Kelby’s blog about the state of the photography industry. We’re going to let you in on a little insider information. The following two-part article was written to an audience of photographers by David Ziser, a well-known wedding photographer. Although he was one of the early adopters of digital photography around 2000, he remains an advocate of not giving clients their digital images. If you’ve ever hired a professional photographer or intend to do so in the future, you’ll find this information enlightening:
We suggest simply doing away with the unfortunate term, “shoot-and-burn” and replacing it with something more current and accurate to describe what we do. “Own-Your-Portraits” photography comes to mind.