The barrier to entry for photography used to be pretty big. You had to invest in a camera and lenses and a darkroom. Film was costly, developing was too. Becoming a professional photographer, earning money from making and selling photographs was reserved for the people who could do it well enough to pay the cost of doing business. You may have noticed that that’s just not true anymore.
Buying a digital SLR and a photo printer enables just about anyone to set themselves up as a professional photographer. If you need photos taken for a wedding, family memory, or just for vanity, there are many more people you can go to than ever before. Professional photographers think this is a bad thing, it’s getting harder for them to make a living – they keep getting undercut by the army of keen amateurs, looking to make a cheap buck on the side. Here is the kick though – whether you think this is a bad thing, or a good thing is irrelevant. It’s a fact.
What does this mean for the consumer? Some will pay the big price for a “real” professional. Most will decide to spend time rather than money, looking though the vast number of amateurs till they find one with enough skill and consistency to do what they want. The thing is, there will be lots and lots of lots and lots of average photographers – taking average photos. The keen amateurs don’t do it for a day job, so don’t have to improve to make their living. They can just keep on churning out these average photos. The law of large numbers says that some of these photos will be great. The problem is going to be how to find the good ones. The photographers will claim that each and every photo they take is great. Can they be trusted, how can the ones with good photos get the message out?
I think that there is an opportunity here. By connecting the good photos, with the people willing to buy the good photos, a market place can be built. One where the consumer is looking to buy decent photos at a cheap price and the photographer, looking to sell some photos, but not dependent on the income can both benefit.