Back to the Future

June 1st, 2010 by

Next week I will be joining colleagues Cathy Yeulet (MonkeyBusinessImages), Shannon Fagan (photographer), Taylor Davidson (business strategies), and Kelly Thompson (iStockphoto) in Dublin, Ireland as I host a panel entitled, The Future, at the New Media Conference. This crystal ball event (not of the disco type but more the fortune teller type of thing) will examine a central issue in the working lives of professional, stock photographers now in mid-2010: What’s next?

Stock photographers worldwide are ringing their hands. They are seemingly in the midst of a perfect storm of events: relatively cheap digital cameras with decent resolution; a thundering crowd rushing toward microstock and helping turn the best of them into serious pros; established microstock photographers seeing declines in revenue as traditional stock photographers jump on that bandwagon; an Internet that sucks up photos by the billions; advertising budgets in the tank and magazines dropping dead. Some say revenues are falling like birds from the sky but overheads are still flying high.

Assigning blame for shifts in the industry is as silly as blaming the Internet for the fact that our way of life has been fundamentally changed forever. We are living through a period of unprecedented change and you as a photographer may get flattened as it rolls through the industry. What will you do to adapt; to stay on your feet?

Join us at the New Media Conference for ideas. You as a photographer are going to have to think your way out of the present into a productive future and here is a chance to bounce your thoughts off others who have been spending a great deal of time pondering the issues. Will Google Image search become monetized? Will Flicker, Creative Commons and Plus get together to organize another third party to issue image licenses…bypassing the Getty gatekeepers?  What’s next?

Taylor wrote about one of the events that will happen around CEPIC and the New Media Conference:

“Before the Future”, June 8th
Ellen, Shannon, Lee Torrens and I will be hosting an invite-only social mixer called “Before the Future” on the night of June 8th before the New Media Conference kicks off the next day. Our goal is to bring together a diverse set of thinkers in the photography industry and create thoughtful and valuable conversations and connections between people driving the future of the photography industry. And, well, have a good time.

Thank you to Jonathan Ross and Space Images for sponsoring the mixer.

A sad but true fact is that many photographers will leave professional photography behind and seek new challenges over the next months and years. Some will go completely broke while they wait for the business to return to previous levels. But others, and I hope you are one of them, will discover how they can use their skill and expertise in a related field. (I don’t think salvation for most lies in transitioning to video.)

What new ventures will appear? Will the time come that finally buries the stock photographer for good or will this be a time of energized regrouping and give us new businesses where the skills and talents of photographers/photoeditors/producers/stylists/etc are again valued?  I hope for the latter but know that the rewards of recovery will be going to a much smaller set of photographers.

Join us at the New Media Conference next week to listen and learn while adding your voice to the discussion about what’s next. Want even more information…illustrated? Lee Torrens has it all mapped out for you.

And if you are there, stop by and say Hello and thanks to the New Media Conference sponsor JaincoTech.