At your tables, chairs set…ready ? 1, 2, 3.. Go . The freshly renamed Centre of Photography ( Cepic) Congress is about to start in Dublin, Ireland, in what is now an annual gathering of photographic convenience stores. Wide computer screens boringly pushing one lifeless image after another, hundreds of neatly arranged 4 seats tables ( no more, no less), a huge hall of sedated whispering, and every hour, on the hour, the delicately pre-arrange ballet of musical chairs. The only thing that changes, year after year, is the location. But does anyone even notice?
The CEPIC congress is Einstein’s definition of insanity at its best : Doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. Punctuated by “talks” from self-proclaimed “experts”, “gurus” or “coaches”, whose only claimed to photo knowledge is to have been recently vomited from an highly paid executive position at one of the photo corporations, it repeats, year after year, the same pattern of stubborn blindness. Year after year, its resembles more and more a meeting of eggs in a closet whose shells show signs of heavy cracking.
Why this assembly of Commercial Stock photography suppliers continue to be so closed on itself, so violently persistent in its obsessions, so un-creative, so resilient to change, is becoming a boring mystery.
The grand old pompous IPTC Consortium will hold it cyclical marathon session repeating over and over the same things, demanding full respect by obstination, claiming high and loud that is it a standard when it can’t even get two software companies to agree on the same field name. The Plus coalition will continue to speak highly of its endless and obsolete development, announcing more and more board room agreements that are never implemented. The same faces, the same voices will take the stage, (also behind tables), to fill the stuffy word space with vague and inconsequential statements, in front of a sparse and half asleep audience. Finally, night after night, all will reunite to wash the whole thing down with huge amount of free alcohol.
Sure, the CEPIC is relevant because it allows for agents and suppliers to meet at one place and one time, do their little business, and go back home, agreeably satisfied with a job well done. It gives everyone who attends a sense of safe continuity, the sense that, after all, everything will be alright.
Here is what to expect : More will be said about microstock (snooze), vendors will painfully try to sell software solutions to agencies that do not have any money to invest, arguments will be made about switching to licensing video (really ?), old timers will parade the halls looking for some self-gratifying recognition, lots and lots of notes will be taken on blocks, pens will be given away, and people will cross each other saying ” Sorry, I don’t have the time to talk, I have a meeting with…”, all day long. There will be more talks about how keywords will save you, search is key and of course, a lot of comparing size of collections.
Something new ? Of course, social media will be discuss ad vomitum : Twitter will save you, you GOTTA have a Facebook account, viral this and viral that, Youtube, Flickr, Foursquare , Tumblr, along with SEO and Google this and Google that. If you do not have or working on a Ipad/Iphone apps this year, you will be considered a loser. You GOTTA have an App.
People will also hear that you need to create a Niche. Because that is only way to survive : a niche. In other words, they will tell you to get out out of Getty’s way, because you can’t compete, and find a corner, where, hopefully they will not find you. Problem is with this strategy is that a succesful niche is not a niche anymore, its a target. And, in industry where everyone, absolutely everyone is looking for market share, becoming a target is not good news.
They will also tell you about Freemium, as they have freshly come out of reading the book, forgetting to tell you that the only companies that can afford Freemium strategies are those that are very well funded. Or to think “Long Tail” because it’s a cool concept, no knowing exactly what it means.
The Cepic congress is a big feel good gathering, like a giant therapeutic group hug , where everyone leaves satisfied that everything will be alright and to continue business as usual. It’s a soporific ego satisfier, a yearly lobotomy. Everyone pats each other cracked egg shell fully knowing that only accepted growth business model is to screw each other.
For CEPIC to one day be relevant again, it needs to go through a violent change. It needs to elect young Presidents ( 30 or younger), it needs to invite speakers from outside the industry, it needs to start looking 5 years ahead and not 10 years backwards. It needs to bring image buyers, photographers, creatives, thinkers. What it really needs is to come out of its highly reactionary protective bubble and destroys those crippling walls that they think are protecting them.