Funny thing about newspapers and magazines these days. They have a hard time jumping over the fence and taking full control of their future. It is obvious that dailies and weeklies, in their current format, have no chance of surviving against the web. But they all think of their web presence as a supplement to their print presence. It should be the opposite and most should be looking on how to make their print presence a supplement of their web presence.
Take the latest downsizing at Business Week. The reason behind it is to combine resources between print and web, with print still being the chief operator. It will save money by trying to fit online what cannot wait until the ink dries up. It gives the impression that there is speed where there is none. Why not, I ask, shift the whole operation completely and once and for all. make it a full range web publication with a weekly print supplement? Focus efforts where the market is growing and adapt to the new economy instead of being forced into it, dragging and screaming.
There is obvious connection here with the photo industry for whom the internet is still an accessory, a second thought. although forced to accept a new reality much faster than the publishing world, there are still some, too many, who are reluctant to invest in online sales and distribution solution.
It is everyone’s understanding that the price of photography will continue to dip down. How soon and how fast, it is anyone’s guess. It would absolutely not surprise me if someone like Getty would take a deep plunge into bottom cheap imagery in order to get rid of any competion and clean the landscape, a bit like a whale plunges deep below to get rid of parasite fish, only to return to a new, stronger marketplace. Everyone knows that there is too much photography available, both in stock and editorial. It is time to force the medium and lesser photographers and agencies into a rapid bankruptcy in order to sanitize the offering.
Let me step back and explain: The market, currently, offers the false impression that anyone can make money in the photography field. Since it has become easy and cheap to enter, everyone and his brother is now either a photographer or a stock agent. Since there is no tangible market research on the size of our industry, $2 billion, $5 billion, $3000 billion, it is anyone guess on what the payout will be. If someone paid attention, I am sure that we would see that there has been more stock agencies of all type launched in the last five years then at anytime in its brief history. And it is only growing exponentially. More agencies, more photographers, more photographers, less relevant images. It seems that there is money to be made because of Microstocks and Flickr’s successes. And as much is there might be an increase in the number of images used in one year, there has not been an increase of revenue generated by this spike. It has been almost cancelled by the fall in pricing and Getty has been a witness to that.
The only way to really profit form that growth would be to get rid of the overflow of images. And the best way is to force as many people out of the market as possible, as quickly as possible.
~ In a related note, I am very sad at the departure of Business Week Picture Director Larry Lippmann . For those who had a chance to work with him and his staff, it is a huge lost. He is one of the true gentleman of photography, has created a fair and balance agreement with stock agencies and photographers. Business Week is the only publication that pays for foreign edition usage up front, that reports usage with a tear sheet and one of the few that is always polite and professional. They asked and used a lot of images per week at different sizes and over the years I have never, ever heard any complains. Doing assignment work for them was a pleasurable breeze and always correctly paid. All this is to the credit of Larry Lippmann who deserves an award. It would be nice if our industry would officially recognize such professionals. Thank you Larry for all you have done for the photography world.