Photography Vs. The Photography Industry

The photography industry is really focused on the ‘industry’ part and not so much on the ‘photography’ part. This is the greatest moment in the history of photography if your dream is to distribute as much photography as possible to as many people as possible, or if your goal is to make it as easy as possible to become seen as a photographer. There’s never been a time like this before.

So if your focus is on photography, it’s great. If your focus is on the industry part and the royalties, the lawyers, the magazine features and the print campaigns, it’s horrible. The shift that is happening right now is that the people who insist on keeping the world as it was are going to get more and more frustrated until they lose their jobs. People who want to invent a whole new set of rules, a new paradigm, can’t believe their good fortune and how lucky they are that the people in the industry aren’t noticing an opportunity… [click the 'continue reading' link below...]

The above is an excerpt from an interview that information-age guru, Seth Godin, gave about the music industry, only I’ve hacked it. (Seth don’t sue me.) For purposes of illustration, I’ve simply replaced each occurrence of the word ‘music’ from his statement with the word ‘photography’, along with a couple contextual tweaks.

I’m guessing there’s no lack of opinions on the results of my edit, but I could be wrong…

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85 Responses to Photography Vs. The Photography Industry

  1. Mark Wallace March 1, 2009 at 9:48 pm #

    I’m loving the freedom that the new world order brings. We’re in the second renaissance. Woot!

  2. Orson Kent March 1, 2009 at 9:51 pm #

    I’m not yet in the industry deep enough to know how true this is – but it rings as true for photography as it did for the music biz.

  3. jonny March 1, 2009 at 9:51 pm #

    We live in ‘world 2.0′. Everything has to be as fast as fast food and fedex… for better or worse.

    I think if one can live for photography, but still have the photography industry mastered (figured out at least), one is in a good place.

    Maybe this is why I tell everyone I meet who wants to be a ‘professional photographer’ to skip photo/art school and get business or marketing degree instead. Maybe that’s only worsening the situation.

  4. Shelby White March 1, 2009 at 9:55 pm #

    I agree with Mark & Jonny.

    We could be nearing a second renaissance.

  5. Trevin March 1, 2009 at 9:58 pm #

    Loving the twist on Seth Godin’s original article. Well done Chase.

  6. Chase Jarvis March 1, 2009 at 10:03 pm #

    @ jonny: can’t substitute the photography for the business – that would be disastrous. And I’m not advocating school here, nor am I advocating against good business smarts, but you can’t turn your back on the art… It’s still about the art and always will be. It’s just that when considering the industry of art and photography – or, hell, the industry of anything – we all must remember that change is the only constant.

  7. Jan Klier March 1, 2009 at 10:06 pm #

    Well done indeed.

    At the root it’s a fairly universal problem, well documented by Clayton Christensen in the ‘Innovator’s Dilemma’. This is just yet another iteration.

    The incumbents think they can dominate into infinity by making incremental improvements on an aging model. They’re ill prepared for the guys who disrupt that picture with a different type of innovation.

  8. Anonymous March 1, 2009 at 10:06 pm #

    So what is the message here – be willing to give your work away so that more people can see it or prepare to go out of business? Chase, you make your living as an advertising photographer, so it sounds as though you are saying that you are so cool that you can get all the choice work, and everyone else should give theirs away or prepare to fail. Correct me if I’m misreading you.

  9. Bryan March 1, 2009 at 10:13 pm #

    I think that the ability to share work instantly is amazing. I think that the ability to have your work judged instantly by anyone is amazing as well. I think that there has been a lot of work that has been overlooked because it did not get a public audience.

    Having said that, I do not always think that pop music is the best that is out there. My tastes do not always mesh well with the public opinion. I like indie bands and don’t want to be told what to like. But my tastes differ from the public as often as they do from that of the music critic.

    Nevertheless times are changing. Everyone has an opinion and now everyone has a forum to express it. I can really only see this as good. In the next few years we will see more stars (in whatever field) rise from obscurity because of the interweb. With the increased exposure, your audience will grow. At what pace depends only on your appeal to the masses, if that’s your thing.

  10. Chase Jarvis March 1, 2009 at 10:14 pm #

    @ anon – c’mon man. you’re certainly misreading me. my point isn’t a grand one at all. simply put: just another suggestion that old models are changing. adaptation and evolution is key. don’t get caught with your pants down. music industry, movie industry, so many industries that are increasingly being distributed digitally are changing. and a fun riff on Godin, really.

  11. Mark Wallace March 1, 2009 at 10:14 pm #

    @anonymous – I can’t speak for Chase but I don’t think he’s saying we should give our work away for free. Speaking for myself I’ve found that there are creative ways to “give” work away that helps with the bottom line. But you must adapt and be willing to learn new things constantly. I think the point is not to get so wrapped up in getting 5,000 twitter followers that you never pick up your camera.

  12. Forrest Tanaka March 1, 2009 at 10:19 pm #

    I think this statement for both photography as well as music is very wise. My hope, actually, is that the new paradigms (if I may use a Dilbert word) haven’t yet been figured out; once they are, it becomes more difficult to make an impact. Thanks, Chase, for this take on this world.

  13. Brian York March 1, 2009 at 10:20 pm #

    I can definitely agree that we are in the midst of a huge change in the way things are done and perceived but with out the royalties and ad campaigns like you yourself get you can’t run a business nor eat. However the competition is so enormous out there that the only way to get anywhere is to distribute as much work as possible and do as much work. You can’t wait for some great ad campaign or featured article to do great work you have to make it yourself and be an artist … get out there and build your own empire and toot your own horn all over the place where ever you can be seen and the great work will follow. Creatives want to be surrounded by creativity, be their creative inspiration and they won’t forget you when they have 100K!

    I recently became your facebook friend Chase and I love the daily photos … especially the Chick-in-Taco :) you are out blasting your own horn every day … even at dinner or in the bathroom stall on what seems to be an airplane!

    -Brian

  14. Brian York March 1, 2009 at 10:30 pm #

    I also find all the videos and things that you do Chase that aren’t directly related to the business of photography has made you be at the fore front of photographers by keeping your name on everyones minds. I can’t tell you how often I hear about something you have posted or done that people have seen. I’m sure that has translated into paid work. Your the rock star of photography ;)

  15. Jay McLaughlin March 1, 2009 at 10:31 pm #

    Too many people focus on the technical and the business side of photography. The image isn’t even secondary to a lot of people anymore.

    In many ways it’s a great time to be a photographer, but in some ways it is the beginning of a dark time!

  16. Christine Buijs March 1, 2009 at 10:48 pm #

    I read this all as a positive thing. It means that marketing and jobs will be less in the hands of agents and representatives and more in the hands of photographers themselves. It will pose it’s own challenges but reap its own rewards too.

    And to cite another example from the music industry – let’s take our cues from Trent Reznor of NIN who, after years of being big and signed to a major label, is now distributing his own work and footage directly to his fans – and able to keep his own artistic integrity more intact, instead of being at the whims of his marketers and THEIR desires.

  17. Chase Jarvis March 1, 2009 at 10:49 pm #

    lots of quick chatter here and twitter (@chasejarvis)… good discussion.

    this t’aint about me or you or you or you or you. it’s about US. like it or not, we’re all in this together.

    photography ain’t changing (figuratively). it’s still about making pictures.

    what’s changing is the photography industry. industry. industry. that’s about making pictures and making a living doing so. and that, my friends, is very different…and changing very quickly. we have several choices. sure I like the ‘old’ model – served me well, but it’s exactly that: ‘old’. and it isn’t exactly lingering around forever. t’would be great to hang on to some of it, but we can only hang on to so much. so key is knowing what’s worth (able?) hanging onto and what is not (or unable?) and having the wisdom to know the difference.

    i don’t have answers, only questions. time to learn to cherish that. and in the meantime, keep attitudes in check and focus on creating lots of really cool shit.

  18. Jay McLaughlin March 1, 2009 at 10:58 pm #

    I agree that the industry is changing and I am definitely one for changing with it… but… photography is a service industry. We serve images to other industries. Those industries are also changing and in some ways not in a way that helps us.

    I’ve worked with too many companies who have the wrong people in the wrong job because they somehow ended up there through a series of promotions that were agreed to and signed off by other people who weren’t in the right job. These people now have the task of hiring us to create art…. only they don’t know what is good/bad/artistic etc. So they often hire friends, help those around them. Whilst I’m all for helping those around you, sometimes it still counts a lot for having the right person doing the right job. That’s when great things can happen!

  19. Brian March 1, 2009 at 10:59 pm #

    Well Said!

  20. Jonny March 1, 2009 at 11:01 pm #

    @chase

    “can’t substitute the photography for the business”

    Maybe it was my personality speaking :) I agree with what you said 100%, however, looking at the resources available today to the up-and-comer… I’d argue that perseverance, hard work, aptitude and a ‘self-learned’ attitude, and a bit of luck are likely better teachers than formal schooling in photography by itself.

    Further, if you one is capable of mastering photography without schooling, i’d say business or marketing (or philosophy?) schooling would be a much better road to take in the long run.

    Heck, my background in engineering has helped me more with my photography business than I think photo school would have, simply for the experience dealing with, and selling ideas to clients.

    … I guess my point is that, IMHO, the modern photography industry does not favor those who have no business sense. To me, that is why so many ‘schooled’ photographers quit within a few years after struggling along as assistants. Maybe they never found they had anything personally to offer anyone.

  21. Jay McLaughlin March 1, 2009 at 11:11 pm #

    Nowadays you can be ok at something and good at business and be far more successful than someone who’s awesome at something and has poor business skills.

    I find that quite sad.

  22. ekim March 1, 2009 at 11:14 pm #

    First off Thanks Chase for being so community oriented you’re an inspiration!
    ….it’s because of the “Computer Industry” I use the Linux OS instead of Windows. It’s also why I support the GIMP project over using adobe photoshop. At some point the “Industry” becomes the nucleus and everything that’s really important and essential gets pushed to the outer edge. Yes, it’s true this is part of the cycle. Hopefully we don’t lose the next Cartier-Bresson, Eggleston or Leibovitz in this go-around. I guess this is why I’m still in IT and I still enjoy my photography without the bitter after-taste of it being my “profession”. As much as I want to switch careers, I dread having to become a part time paralegal to make a living at it…

  23. Sean McCormack March 1, 2009 at 11:16 pm #

    @Jay

    While I have run a sound hire business for years, when it comes to photography business, I am lacking. I am however trying to remedy this asap.

    @chase

    Seth is great. Hopefully there will be a way to be in there when the change happens.. as it inevitably will.

  24. Jay McLaughlin March 1, 2009 at 11:21 pm #

    Another point….

    Is the photography industry is changing?

    I get most of my work through word of mouth. I’ve never actively advertised my services via campaigns or direct mail. The internet enables me to have a website, facebook, myspace, blog, twitter, youtube etc etc.

    I’m still getting work through word of mouth, but because of the internet, I’m able to get more mouths talking about me.

  25. John Harrington March 1, 2009 at 11:21 pm #

    Mark Wallace –

    Actually, Chase DID previously say he would work for free in his piece – Will Work for Free? – but to the point about adapting – the music industry got it once iTunes made its’ mark. TV has gotten it with their online streaming content, heck, I watch Hulu daily, instead of my TV’s. Then the movie industry got it again with streaming movies on iTunes, NetFlix, and so on.

    The key is to monetize the different avenues your images can generate revenue from, and realize this before you’ve given things away for free (or worse – at a loss each and every time).

  26. ingalbraith March 1, 2009 at 11:29 pm #

    there really is no business model for the future of the photography industry. that is something that we young photographers need to carve out for ourselves. there are a lot of variables that come into play and in the meantime there’s really nothing else to do except keep making pictures….and hopefully that’s something everybody is doing anyway.

  27. Matthew Saville March 1, 2009 at 11:52 pm #

    Chase I agree, the industry is changing for the better in the long run. But I have to re-mention that pros are going under left and right. Right now every other college student with a 5D is out shooting microstock, and industries like that are not just changing, they’re drowning. Not for all photographers, but for many / most…

    I do believe a solution is out there. I just wonder what it is? I am working very hard to embrace the digital age in my wedding photography, and I think that because of things like facebook and the computer-savvy-ness of brides in general, wedding photography will come out on top. But make no mistake- wedding photography is just a “job” to me. I’d much rather be shooting hardcore downhilling or dirt jumping, or editorial / location stuff in general; I love the outdoors. I just feel like that industry has, like I said, been drowned…

    I know there is a brighter future ahead, I just can’t figure out what it is yet. What do you think, for example, the future of the stock industry might be?

    =Matt=

  28. ekim March 2, 2009 at 12:02 am #

    @ Jay McLaughlin

    …I agree with you’re “service industry” comment. I just hope unlike food industry, the general public doesn’t start to lose appreciation for the real art that we do. Like real food the real chefs create. I think the photography industry is bombarded with “McPhotographers” all the time and it’s soo hard for those who are dedicated and true artists to stand out amongst a ton of 1′s and 0′s crossing the internet to peoples inboxes/web browsers. I decided to go back to school (photography this time) and we do about 75% film and the rest digital. I wasn’t enthused at first but, I have much more of an appreciation now. All my photographer friends tell me that “real photographers have done at least some film!” :-) Slowing down has helped all aspects of my photography. (even my Photoshop/GIMP skills) But like it was mentioned even though my portfolio currently contains a lot of 35mm and medium format film images alongside my digital prints. There isn’t gonna be much appreciation from the industry for the long hours hard work I put in the darkroom. But I still rock my HOLGA 120!!!

  29. Bryce Driesenga March 2, 2009 at 12:06 am #

    Right on Chase. First of all, just started keeping up with your blog, awesome stuff man. That video with the floods was quite hilarious.

    Second, I definitely see what you are saying. If you are into photography, I think that is what you should be into. You should love photography and making great photos, and, in my opinion, you should want others to see those. If you are only about the industry, the business, and the money to be made from it, I say do something else for a living. Or, at least, you could separate your work photography from your personal stuff. Feel free to take the photos you love on your own, and, if you can make money doing a bit more boring stuff, the fine.

    Note, I am only 18 and just starting to get into this whole photography/industry thing, but we’ll see how it goes.


    http://flickr.com/photos/brycedriesenga/

  30. mattfogarty March 2, 2009 at 12:07 am #

    Chase

    I love it. I have to stop reading your blog on Sunday night. It tends to get me thinking and I go to work Monday with no sleep.

    There are so many amazing things coming down the pipe, that as an amateur working to go pro, I figure my best bet is to just aspire for the best glass I can afford, shoot every damn thing I can, and try some new approach or tool or way of working or learning every single day.

    Everything else will fall in line through passion, hard work, and clever adaptation.

    What an unbelievably fun time to be a part of the creation and convergence of so many cool crafts.

  31. Fotografi March 2, 2009 at 12:28 am #

    Yes it’s true we (photographer) can’t stop the future we must find new way to do our profession.

  32. Jay McLaughlin March 2, 2009 at 1:31 am #

    @ekim

    Holga’s rock! I’ve just loaded some film in my 1950s box brownie. Should be fun….. and isn’t that what it’s about? Enjoying the process of making great images?

    I’m sat here 100 miles from home on my iPhone about to do a job for the first issue of a new magazine. This tells me that there’s new clients and new work out there to be had! The trick is getting the work. Trouble is, sometimes people only want McDonalds….

  33. Anonymous March 2, 2009 at 3:01 am #

    So Chase, being it’s your post, what’s your side?…focused on industry or on photography?

  34. David Redding March 2, 2009 at 5:03 am #

    If you are looking for a good watch, Google RIP: A Remix Manifesto. It has some interesting ideas about the state of copyright.

    Chase, I completely agree with you that you have to be able to evolve and roll with the punches, otherwise the future is just going to beat the crap out of you and leave you bloody on the side of the road.

    That being said, I’m not sure that a new model for photography has risen yet, unlike other art forms. With the music industry who can give their music away under a CC license just to attract people to their concerts. Scott Sigler is a perfect example of an author coming from no where, giving ALL his stuff away for free and in the act of giving, make it onto the NY hardcover best sellers list.

    I’m not sure if the same can be said with photography, but one thing is certain, the days of living off of the past are dead or dying. The future of photography is in the constant creation of new imagary. If that involved giving away old work to get someone to pay you to make new work…….

  35. David Redding March 2, 2009 at 5:04 am #

    If you are looking for a good watch, Google RIP: A Remix Manifesto. It has some interesting ideas about the state of copyright.

    Chase, I completely agree with you that you have to be able to evolve and roll with the punches, otherwise the future is just going to beat the crap out of you and leave you bloody on the side of the road.

    That being said, I’m not sure that a new model for photography has risen yet, unlike other art forms. With the music industry who can give their music away under a CC license just to attract people to their concerts. Scott Sigler is a perfect example of an author coming from no where, giving ALL his stuff away for free and in the act of giving, make it onto the NY hardcover best sellers list.

    I’m not sure if the same can be said with photography, but one thing is certain, the days of living off of the past are dead or dying. The future of photography is in the constant creation of new imagary. If that involved giving away old work to get someone to pay you to make new work…….

  36. Steve G March 2, 2009 at 6:07 am #

    An excellent post Chase, and something that clearly nneds said in all industries. At the moment I would class myself as a semi-pro, I make a large chunk of my money through photography but I also work for a photographic retailer here in the UK.

    I’ve dealt with clients on my own and through my agent, clients ranging from small businesses to medium sized ones to councils and health trusts and one thing is the same across the board. They’re changing. In their approaches to how photography is used and how they want to go about commissioning. Therefore I’ve had to change and adapt on a regular basis in fact I would go as far as to say that I have to adapt my business to suit the industry I am working for (not hugely but just enough to provide the best service possible).

    I did a business degree first, a photography degree second and now I’m involved in the retail side of the industry. I was always good with a camera but the formal training helped tremendously. I’m not the best photographer, nor the eat business man but I am good, I do deliver, and I have the basics nailed. The message in this blog is clear to me, be prepared to adapt and evolve in this industry, not necessarily in style or product but in delivering that product to your clients.

    (typed on a rickety bus on my iPhone so please excuse silly spelling errors.)

  37. danieljenkins March 2, 2009 at 7:41 am #

    The market is changing. The industry is changing. Change is everywhere. Those that wear themselves out from fighting change will be too tired to see opportunity. Go with the flow. The adage, “you are only as good as your last shoot” is no longer true. You are only as good as your NEXT shoot.

    Get out there and shoot. Something, anything. Personal projects carry such a greater benefit in these times. I haven’t shot anything new in a couple of weeks and I can watch my numbers go down because of it. “Social Engineering” Managing relationships, being talked about, looked at, viewed, searched for as much as possible. The world is a smaller place now. Use it to your advantage.

    Be creative in acceptable compensation. Look for other valuables that clients can contribute. Box seats to sporting events, food/bar tabs, cars… barter…

    but most importantly… embrace change

  38. garyallard March 2, 2009 at 9:14 am #

    Chase
    Well said. Very similar to a post I wrote a while back (coincidentally I linked to your blog as well as Godin’s in that post). We as artist have a golden opportunity and I feel we hold the cards. Thanks for reminding me this Monday morning.
    Gary

  39. Michael March 2, 2009 at 9:23 am #

    Chase your right on about the industry changing. I’ve always felt that we’re in this together. while my industry right now is print media in a whole the world as we know it as photographers is changing at a rapid pace.
    I think the challenge here is how do we change with it.
    I see allot of people in my industry who are scared cause they don’t know where this is going instead of trying to change in a positive way.
    I also see people who just ditch everything and jump thinking they’re latching onto the latest and greatest thing in a very blind manor.
    I think in the photography industry this means making photos but looking at several ways to market your work. To be more flexible in your business structure while still producing the best work you can.

  40. Mirko March 2, 2009 at 11:43 am #

    I’ve read as much as my limited time online allows me and i must say that it’s hard for me to imagine how things must be in the US nowdays. I’m a graphic designer in Chile (SA) and here everything has always been difficult in these kind of jobs, the high price of education and the outrageous ignorance that most of the times keeps us in low earnings for the job we made. The same thing happens in photography and associated territories.

    However, as Chase said, this is the right time to start thinking again under a new light, under new rules and under great technology that’s becoming more and more affordable (except for the D3X).

    The entire world is feeling this crisis and once this crisis has gone, the whole world will start again, and one should always be prepared and ready. Go out now, and shoot.

  41. Danie Nel March 2, 2009 at 12:02 pm #

    I can’t help getting the feeling that quite a number of people commenting here aren’t actually making a living of photography. Having been shooting 9 years commercially, I think what you’re on to Chase. At least in general, as no one really knows how this will pan out. I’m much for adapting to changing circumstances, but it doesn’t make the journey to getting to a new model or paradigm any less treacherous….or adventurous. All I know is that the changes in the world of photography business, distribution, publishing and culture have motivated me into enrolling into a Bachelors degree in the research of this new world order! 1 month into research, and I realize we’re pretty much only at the hypothesis stage anyways.

  42. Dave March 2, 2009 at 1:44 pm #

    Hey Chase,
    I’ve enjoyed your blog for a while. Your energy and openness to share is infectious. However I’ve read through this post and comments and quite honestly have no idea what you or anyone else is trying to say.
    Did this post have a point? All I heard was change is coming, be ready to embrace it. I know you said you have only questions but I would like to challenge you to expand a little more. All the comments are so vague also. Change, change is coming, change is great, be ready to change, those who don’t change will fail. I want some specifics. What exactly is going to change? Our rates, our equipment, our work? None of this is new news. As small business owners and especially as photographers working in a creative industry we have always had to be keenly aware of what is around the corner technologically and creatively speaking. You have had some interesting posts on copyright in the past. Is that what you are talking about here?

  43. Daniel Regueira March 2, 2009 at 1:53 pm #

    Idk about you guys but I think the change is very apparent now. It’s something that’s hard to verbalize (at least for me). It’s one of those things that you can kinda feel coming. It’s the kind of thing that makes you very excited for the future as a photographer and an artist

  44. Sarah Rhoads March 2, 2009 at 4:20 pm #

    It looks like I have stepped into a heated debate room in here! Wow. I saw this post as another very interesting and insightful article by the great Sir Godin on how our industry is changing. Take it for what it is worth people. Thanks for sharing once again Chase.

  45. Neill Watson March 3, 2009 at 4:48 am #

    I enjoy reading this blog, but don’t quite get this post. Something’s missing.
    I agree, things are changing, but they’ve been changing ever since digital cameras would go double page in print.
    As others have said, Chase, c’mon feller, what’s the reason for this post? Change all over the world is occurring at high speeds right now, so what’s your thoughts?
    You’re too sharp a cookie to just shoot from the hip without a reason.

  46. Ryan Smith March 3, 2009 at 5:15 am #

    I certainly agree that change is absolutely necessary in order to not only survive as a photographer, but to also thrive as an artist. There are many good points here.

    Chase and everyone else, how are you changing to represent this new shift?

  47. JoeH March 3, 2009 at 9:08 am #

    The music industry was an awesome comparision for me. Chase, you’re right, photography is changing. Actually, everything is changing if you look at it. and, its changing at a faster and faster rate.

    This all reminds me of a saying about evolution: It’s not the “strong” that survive, it’s the “adaptable” that survive.

    JoeH

  48. Paul Baarn March 3, 2009 at 9:29 am #

    I think the change has been going on for years. Noobies without proper training but with expensive cameras (including myself) entering the marketplace and long time pros getting worried. Now with all the great information available on this blog, strobist and other sites, these noobies can increase the quality of their work and match the quality of many pros. The new photographers may have less knowledge and experience when it comes to running a photography business, but that gap will get smaller. In my mind, photography used to be a money game. You had to have an expensive studio, 10 assistants, 25 lights, 3 camera’s (each worth the same as a car) and so on.
    In the end, the supply side of photography is booming and so the value overall is diminishing. We’re in a crisis where the market is going to be more cost driven. They’d rather have good enough for less than the best for more. And good enough is all around.

    I think selling yourself is going to get harder, but it’s going to push each of us to be the best we can be at all areas of the game, including marketing, professional conduct, networking and let’s not forget photography.

    My 2 cents

  49. Jay McLaughlin March 3, 2009 at 11:27 am #

    I kind of see your point, but surely all these PWA’s (People with cameras) who have chosen photography as “a fun alternative to their office job” will give up pretty soon when they don’t find it as easy as they thought, leaving the only the experienced professionals?

    A lot of people have been made redundant recently and I’d imagine some of them will be using any payout they get to fund camera equipment in an effort to become “a photographer”. Going back to the music comparison, it’s strange how none of them go out and buy guitars or a microphone and call themselves a musician. ;)

  50. madmax March 3, 2009 at 1:30 pm #

    Chase maybe you will be willing to think outside of the box on an issue that I have recently been interested in exploring. It seems most of photographers woes with the “biz” is the ever changing landscape that never seems to fall in the favor of the photographer becuase it is perceived as artist we can be pushed around. The movie industry dealt with the same thing, actors, writers, directors etc. But these artist wised up and formed unions to protect them to allow them to push back on the “biz”. I know directors work for hire, each new movie is just a new gig and we as photographers have been bashed over the head with we cant form a union because we need to maintain rights, and if we gave up the rights to our images we would lose. But can we entertain here as community of photographers what would a world with a photographers union look like, and perhaps it might not be as bad as all our forefathers feared. I would never be one to say giving away the rights to our art is somethign that shoudl be taken lightly, but lets explore what could be. If we had the power of union to help with neogtiations, setting up standards for one to practice in our field, wouldnt this allow us the ability to take away some power from the “biz”. We wouldnt live in a world where low balling bids could exsist, or where sub standard rates for stock photography would be tolerated. If the union said the stock rates are unacceptable and our photographers will no longer provide images, that would hurt. Biz models would have to be re-evaluated. Sure with the loss of rights, our contracts would have to become even more teadious but with the loss of perceived revenues in rights, we could possibly make up for them in the contracts because of that relinquishment, and because of the power of the union behind us. Its jsut something I would like to entertain with this community. This post just made me think of this topic. What say you?

  51. Jay McLaughlin March 3, 2009 at 1:51 pm #

    There are many many many organisations that photographers can join to give them a professional body to support them. They always involve an annual membership fee and most of them don’t actually do much for the industry (in my experience).

    Also, supposing there was a union we could all join, there would still be those who didn’t want to join. These independents could then still undercut any price structure we have, and could perform below any standards we set, but they could still be known as a photographer, and potentially still make a living.

  52. arlam March 4, 2009 at 6:56 am #

    We live in “world 2.0″ yes I agree with jonny. but with this economic crisis, i believe we’ve all been suddenly been updated with a bad patch of “2.0a” and have to restore now to “1.5 service pack 2″ and many industries are suddenly restructuring. Cutting costs here and there, streamlining “work”flow and processes with this crisis as an excuse.

    If we focus ourselves so much on the industry and care not for the art that is feeding us and stop loving the thing that makes our heart flutters, we can’t get through this crisis, and when that happens, there will be no more industry.

    Each and everyday more and more people pick up a camera and join the industry…. with lower and lower costs…. if we don’t have our passion to make sure we love our works and focus just on the industry, we are doomed…

  53. Dominoe Imus March 4, 2009 at 10:41 am #

    It may be because we are more artistic, but I see only good in this shift. If only we could make everyone happy… alas, it is impossible. Either the artists aren’t making any money, or the industry heads aren’t.

  54. Jonny March 4, 2009 at 4:14 pm #

    “i believe we’ve all been suddenly been updated with a bad patch of “2.0a” and have to restore now to “1.5 service pack 2″ and many industries are suddenly restructuring”

    Potentially the best analogy for the current state of things i’ve ever heard.

    I think the fact that many companies are cutting back on marketing is a good thing for a lot of people… especially independants like myself. No one is stopping marketing altogether, however, there is an increasing trend towards ditching the larger agencies and trying out a more cost effective solution… ie… people like me.

    When things get “bad”, the savvy small timer often gets a chance to make a name for himself, while the huge agency struggles to stay afloat.

    Cost of housing is lower, cost of consumables is MUCH lower, and there is generally still a fair bit of work to go around. Recession? Nah. Opportunity.

  55. Brandon D. March 4, 2009 at 9:43 pm #

    Hint: Maybe Chase is simply trying to encourage us to become innovators of the new age of photography, not just followers.

    You know, thinking of new things that haven’t been done yet that may make a major impact. “Changing with the landscape” is one thing. Being one to help shape that landscape is another thing.

  56. Brandon D. March 5, 2009 at 2:08 pm #

    The other thing I’ve noticed is that my favorite photographers aren’t just great at photography or at doing great business in general, but they’re also EXCELLENT at establishing their own distinct brand.

  57. Framed Reality March 6, 2009 at 3:39 pm #

    Well…there’re many clients who choose the photographer who has the “biggest lenses” and costs less. Like Jonny said…everything has to be fast..Less it costs, better it is. Clients don’t understand artistic photography. If they did, they would do their own photos. That’s really bad because there’re really good people, maybe as good as chase, who never had the opportunity to be paid for the good work they can do.

  58. Anonymous March 6, 2009 at 8:13 pm #

    From what I’ve read, anyone intending to use p2p for sharing their videos/photography/FLOSS-software, will be a felon, soon:

    http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/3660/125/

    ( that particular item I only glanced at, but the http://yro.slashdot.org/ stuff has been screaming for ages .. YRO means Your Rights Online has indicated that USING p2p software constitutes copyright infringement, and therefore felony, under ACTA )

    The industry will *stomp out* freedom like a bug under its boot, soon, and you are foolish enough to believe you have rights?

    What happens when the murderous laws make it a felony for you to access your images without “authorized” software?

    What happens when Microsoft shuts off your image editing software ( possibly by mistake ) and suddenly DRM makes it *impossible* for you to ACCESS “your” images?

    ( the visual information may be yours, but the file isn’t your creation: it was created by proprietary software, according to a proprietary codec: you have NO right to your RAW images, under the coming laws )

    The music industry was limited by
    a) music files are primarily Produce Once, Listen Many Times ( re-use doesn’t happen with the .mp3 files, only with the original BWF files, and
    b) Apple/iTunes/p2p/lagging RIAA friendly laws.

    The photographic industry isn’t so limited.

    You want to re-edit an image, to use it for some other purpose? you have to be *permitted* to do so, by your system.

    If the DRM won’t permit it, you .. don’t.

    ever.

    Remember when Windows Vista killed people’s multi-boot systems, in a MS Update?
    ( only Microsoft Vista being allowed on the machine, by Microsoft )

    You remember when people became incapable of “tivo”ing their TV on Windows systems, when the Do Not Copy broadcast flag that the US Gov’t disallowed, got broadcast by accident?
    Microsoft said ~yeah, the gov’t said don’t implement such restriction, but we’ve done so.~

    You’re foolish enough to believe that you’re going to be ALLOWED to possess your images, that are in a proprietary format for a reason, once DRM becomes total, and copyright infringement becomes a felony?

    Think about what happens to the accountability that “wikileaks” induces, when IT becomes criminalized?
    ( hint: accountability becomes felony, authority becomes unlimited, “absolute authority corrupts absolutely” gets seen worldwide )

    I think you are ignoring the undertow to see the movement on the surface, and the undertow is pulling our whole world down, drowning our world’s rights, and you won’t see it.

    Please consider the ecology-paradigms suggested by this brilliant work:
    http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/cathedral-bazaar/

    Nature always uses the open-ecology, the "bazaar"; institutions/enforcement always prefers the world be contained in a closed ecology, or "cathedral".

    If humanity chooses a closed ecology ( note YOU don't have to: if the law that rules humanity does, you don't have any choice.
    Neither did the East Germans, nor the 2nd world war subjects of the "reich"… the Tibetan subjects machine-gunned by China, Mugabe's subjects… ), then *that's* the rules whose consequences control/limit humanity's survival.

    Yes "photography" is thriving, so is "music", and "programming", and "informational participation", but that can & will be stomped out by any group/gang/"corporation"/gov't-"cathedral"/authority that can gain authority on others, just because "authority" is the deepest drug humanity knows.

    Take a look at how photographing police in the UK is now deemed terrorism.
    ( recent change )

    Accountability?

    -lmao-

    The police can assault you, can MURDER you, in public, and NO ONE has *any right* to capture evidence, except the police, but that might become "lost", of course…
    Anyone who *attempts* to photograph the police ( journalists are subject to this too ) committing terrorism/crime is deemed the terrorist, by the LAW ITSELF, and the evidence just .. disappears.
    Along with you, for 42 days, before they have to charge you…

    Try reading this, about accountability being eradicated in the US…

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/27/AR2009022703591.html

    try reading this about the definition of journalism being changed to eradicate independents:
    http://photobusinessforum.blogspot.com/2009/02/freelancers-are-not-journalists.html

    ACTA was pushed by RIAA and friends, and copies were sent 'round to THEM, while no copy has been officially produced for the SUBJECTS of the law to comment on.

    When sharing becomes felonized, will you illegally share anything?

    When copyright infringement becomes a felony, will you dare quote anyone?

    When accessing your images by bypassing DRM becomes a felony, will you do so?

    When speaking out becomes a felony, will you dare do so?

    Pay attention to the changes in "society", but pay also attention to the changes in authority/law: the underlying rules that "allow" society.

    When the modern equiv to the nazi "curfew + no-travel" law comes into place ( the final prerequisite to disappearing noticeable portions of a population ), will you threaten authority by claiming that you have "rights"?

    When the torture-ray ( microwave-based ) trucks and "rifles" are deployed against protesters ( notice they haven't been deployed on foreign soil… :) , and the protesters rounded up & disappeared, will you pretend still that sharing/freedom won?
    Or when they start being used on "suspects", guilty of the felony ( under ACTA ) of copyright infringement…

    -lol-

    Read the links, see what mainstream media *mostly* ignores, while keeping the world occupied in ways that make the advertisers feed money to the broadcasters…

    Consider that the US gov't *got away with* a program of systematic torture/murder ( extraordinary rendition ), and no accountability happened.
    None.
    No charges under international law, no constitutional law, nothing.

    For years.

    the surface energy of everybody participating/sharing means nothing, when the secret laws, and secret enforcement, set about eradicating independent lives/meaning/rights.

    I hope you enjoy the next 7 years, because I don't expect to, man.

    Nor do I expect anyone else to, unless they're in the Crushing Others business…

    -deliberately leaving out more evidence:
    if you check those links, you'll be hit by something you don't want to know.
    If you ignore those links, you know nothing of what's really going on.
    If you see/understand what's going on, then looking 'round a bit means you can see/understand more-

    Cheers.

  59. Anonymous March 7, 2009 at 3:49 am #

    With regard to Framed Reality’s remark about how some unknown photographers might even be as good as Chase, many are much better than Chase. In fact, Chase, among the real talents of the industry, is only of average ability. I would hardly consider him a top talent

    This is not a slam against Chase, because he is ingeniously talented – just not at photography. Chase’s genius lies in his astute understanding of pop culture and how to appeal to it. I am always astounded at how the Chase Jarvis groupies fawn over every ordinary thing that he does, as if he were their messiah.

    He has perfected the art of marketing himself to this sycophant, pop culture, and I commend him for his savvy.

    As for the OP of this thread, Chase, I think you got a little whimsical in trying plug the photography industry into Godin’s philosophy of changing trends in the music industry. Although there are some similarities, direct parallels of the two don’t work.

    Annon

  60. André Sousa March 7, 2009 at 3:50 am #

    @anonymous paranoid just above: chill! that’s been going on forever and you just know get the feeling that something’s going on? no revolution led to progress, at least in the long term. I aprecciate you being alert, but there’s no need for a call to arms…

    anyways, my 2$ are: I’ve studied journalism (that didn’t work) so I’ve started photographing as well, but i still feel the difficulty of not being business savy… trying to change, but most times i’d rather shoot than talk business….

    keep it going chase, you help a lot

  61. Anonymous March 7, 2009 at 4:04 am #

    Andre,

    There is no need to tell me to chill. I am perfectly relaxed. With all due respect, your post makes no sense. I get the impression that you think I am attacking Chase. If that’s what you think, you’re way off.

    The affect that Chase has on pop culture is a powerful tool in his success, and anyone coming up in this business should pay close attention to what he is doing and how he is doing it.

    About his talent as a photographer, it is my opinion that he is average in talent. It’s only one person’s opinion, and it shouldn’t offend you.

  62. Framed Reality March 7, 2009 at 6:47 am #

    Chase gave two solutions at good photographers who want to make some business: 1) “Be so good they can’t ignore you”. I agree, but “they” have to be people who can realise how good you are. 2) “Show them the work they want to see”. For this one you need to be courageous enough to go to them and say: “I can do better then that”.

  63. Car Blog March 8, 2009 at 12:33 am #

    Great article there. I was drawn to this site when i saw the 180seconds photo commercial video on youtube. Great stuff.

  64. Oskar March 9, 2009 at 10:39 am #

    Must say that I really like your pictures, you have a quite similar style as Daniel Månsson, do you know who that is? Nice blog btw, it’s the first time im here but i’ll be back for sure.

    Check out my blog to if you want, it’s in swedish but you might like the pictures anyway. Otherwise you can go to my flickr-page:
    http://thephotodiary.blogg.se

    Keep it up!

  65. Anonymous March 10, 2009 at 5:29 pm #

    I know more about business than photography, but I can tell you, any business model that includes suing your end-user is a flawed model. With photography and music alike we are clinging to a business model that is old and out dated. M@tallica thinks suing people is fun but guess what, I know lots of people that will never buy another one of there albums again. As for Billy Coragan and charging radio stations to play your songs, come on.

    Photographers are no better. Suing the girl that goes to Wal-Mart and scans a copyrighted photo. Yeah it’s illegal but if that many people do it maybe we need examine why and not just jump to sue.

    I don’t have the answers but the question needs to be posed. Not that photographers aren’t getting the RAW end of this deal but I think you will find as with the music industry, sales have fallen and may not get back up.

  66. Brandon D. March 11, 2009 at 1:09 pm #

    I don’t think that it’s part of the business model itself. I just think that every action has a consequence, and it’ll either be favorable or unfavorable.

    I think that existing so that people can take advantage of you (without a way to protect yourself) defeats the purpose of having a business in the first place. No business can survive if people are consistently taking advantage of it. And it’s not fair for a business to be selective of who it allows and doesn’t allow to take advantage of it.

    Relationships between the service provider and the end user have to be mutual. The service providers has to hold up their end of the bargain. And the end user has to hold up to theirs. Business just can’t just be about the service provider providing a great service, while end users take advantage of the service provider.

  67. André Sousa March 11, 2009 at 4:35 pm #

    My comment was addressed to the anonymous person that wrote at 8.13 an not to the one that wrote 1minute before me. unfortunately, I can’t read one’s comment and respond to it in less than a minute. life would be so much easier if I could… signing your comments would help, both for avoiding mistakes like these, and claiming responsability for your words.

  68. Anonymous March 12, 2009 at 12:01 pm #

    “I know more about business than photography”

    At least you were right about the above comment. The rest of your post suggests that photographers should let people illegally use their images without paying the the privilege. Maybe I should adopt that attitude next time I want an item in a store and don’t feel like paying for it. I think with both know what will happen if I were to partake in such an indulgence.

    In case you are aware of it, there is overhead involved in making commercial photographs. They are our product – our stock in trade. You are stealing when you reproduce and use them without permission. That said, I sincerely doubt that most of us working pros have a problem with someone scanning and pinning up a copy of our image on their refrigerator.

  69. Dean Casavechia March 14, 2009 at 6:53 pm #

    I think in some ways we can learn a lot from the music industry. Not so much what they are doing but what they didn’t do or are doing to regain ground.

  70. Anonymous March 17, 2009 at 9:01 pm #

    music industry = photography industry

  71. Sean Porter March 20, 2009 at 3:57 am #

    Im 15 and have found a talent in photography and personally there is no bigger buss than seeing something that you have created being used something other that you didn’t think it would be worthy (in a exbo show guide). I think i may have said some off topic but i think it not being labeled a “Professional Photographer” but being able to take high quality pictures that people like to see.

    Sean Porter
    Melbourne, Australia

  72. Tim Knight March 27, 2009 at 10:12 am #

    Understand; change is the common denominator of the evolution of the world.

    Change is really the only thing that has happened since the beginning of man. Judy Herrmann, in ASMP’s Professional Buisness Practices in Photography, quotes latin writer and former Roman slave in Italy, Publilius Syrus of the FIRST CENTURY BC when she wrote “It is a bad plan that admits to no modification”.

    Change is inevitable. Rather than trying to stop it, maybe we should try to lead it in the direction we would like for it to go. Mahtma Ghandi once suggested that we “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

    Which, to me, is that we, as photographers should LEAD the change rather than retreat from it. Can YOU do that? Will you?

    Can we take the bull by the horns, and drag it in the direction we want it to go? If we do not, we will become…well, I’ll use one more quote, this one from the U.S. Army’s former Chief of Staff, who retired from that post in 2003 “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”

  73. Anonymous April 15, 2009 at 9:03 am #

    “I’m loving the freedom that the new world order brings. We’re in the second renaissance. Woot!”

    … as long as we are sharp, keen, for ready to fight for our digital freedom, not just the traditional kind, as both have clear enemies. I can only hope we’re all prepared to do just that if necessary.

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