On May 23rd I announced a contest
. Everyone who provided an answer to the question
Describe a situation where a fee of $10.00, or less, is justified for the COMMERCIAL use of a single image?
would be entered in a drawing to Win $100.00. In addition to announcing the contest to my newsletter subscribers I passed out cards to attendees to the CEPIC Congress in Istanbul. We have conducted a drawing and the winner is:
Nature Picture Library and Bluegreen Pictures
We received very few responses to our query. The vast majority of those who did respond said that $10 was too low for any use. Tim was one of the very few who indicated that there might be a few situations where prices of $10.00 or less were justified. His answer was “for short-term editorial web use as part of a large volume deal, especially in an emerging market.”
In addition I want to make note of one other comment. Tom Tinervin, formerly with Digital Railroad and now with Picturemaxx, said, “Education. There are tens of thousands, if not more, educators in the world. They have a demand to bring visual content to the future minds of the world. With no budget, or very little, educators should have the tools they need to educate.”
Those who have been reading my recent stories (“Encyclopaedia Britannica Pricing for Picture Access
,” “From Books To iPads
,” “BtoB or B2C
” and “Do Creatives Need Educational Publishers?
”) will realize that I think photographers need to make some radical changes in the way they approach the market.
Photographers should not feel obligated to sell images for less than it costs to produce them. Photographers are entitled to earn a living just like everyone else. But, if there is enough potential volume photographers may still be able to earn a living licensing limited usage rights for very low prices.
In future the vast majority of units licensed will be for prices that are not just less than $10.00, but less than $1.00. But given the volume of such transactions the revenue earned will be greater than photographers are earning today making occasional sales to large organizations for much higher fees.
Photographers who want to continue to earn a living taking pictures must find ways to adapt to the new business environment. They must deal more directly with consumers at price points individuals can justify. It does not mean that all high priced sales will disappear. But it will be increasingly rare to find customers willing to pay the kinds of fees photographers were accustomed to receive 5 to 10 years ago.
We are in the midst of a paradigm shift in the way we do business. It will not be enough to just lower the prices charged old customers. The old customers won’t buy enough additional images to make up the difference. In fact, they will probably buy less. A whole new customer base must be found and it must be addressed in a totally different way.
One thing I believe this contest demonstrated is that everyone is thinking about ways to prop up the old business model. Almost no one is thinking about finding or developing some new business models. Not every new business model will work. But, photographers need to aggressively consider and test new ideas.