As the business world seems to be moving more and more towards a subscription/sharing model, why doesn’t the photogrpahy world ? A model already applied by photo agencies that offer monthlyyearly packages that provide a limited amount of images for a flat fee, independent photographers could now jump on the bandwagon too.
Here is how it would work. A photographer would decide how much he would need to live for a year. He would then sell shares of his time to numerous clients that would need him throughout the year. Once hired by enough clients, the “share” would be closed. Then clients would book him when need, using an online calendar, a bit like Zipcar.
In order to make this work, he would have to not think in terms of jobs but in terms of yearly revenue. So he might loose money on some jobs but make some on other. Everything would level out to make a nice profit. The client would be happy, since they would be able to manage their photo budget on a yearly basis instead of per jobs.
Let’s take a wedding photographer, for example. Right now, they run a hit and run operation: They try to get the most money out of a client they will see once and move on.
Under our model, our wedding photographer would not only offer wedding pictures, but baby pictures, family pictures and so on. He would get hired for a certain fee for 5 years. During that time, he would be on call to shoot whatever the couple would need. In exchange, he would get a steady revenue . It would cost the couple much less money up front to cover the wedding while guaranteeing the photographer steady work and income for the next five years.
Multiply this by 50 clients and a photographer could live comfortably and stress free. Because of the revolving pool of clients, high and lows in revenue would be minimize.
The same could be done for a corporate shooter. Replace the couple client by companies and there you go.
Obviously, you would need some incentive for the clients to sign up for the share/subscription model. Free unlimited online storage of images or 100 free prints a year ? The options are wide open.
More and more individuals seem to be comfortable with the subscription/share model . From Netflix to Pandora, from Zipcar to Cell phone plans, it is all about simplifying billing and avoiding one time high costs. It just fits better with how they are being paid.
It will be interesting to see if this model takes root in the photography community and develops into an industry standard.
About the author
This business has too many Surveyors and not enough Bohemians” Roger Therond, legendary photo man, once said to a good friend of mine, Eliane Laffont. This blog is about restoring the balance and letting the Bohemians talk.
Paul Melcher has been named one of the “50 most influential individuals in American photography” by American Photo. He is currently senior vice president of the PictureGroup. He writes the Thoughts of a Bohemian blog