In times of crisis, people will go anywhere to search for answers. Some will even start believing anything as long as the promise is for a succesful and happy ending. Some will even commit mass suicide if the promise is strong enough.

Surely, we have not come there yet. But as the situation for photographers gets more and more difficult, snake oil merchants seem to appear out of everywhere. They promise everything, as long as you pay for it. This package will make you a better while this one will transform you as the best salesman the world has ever seen. Interrestingly enough, since most of the photogrpahy commerce is done online, some technology companies also claim to have the key to success. With this or that program, website or  “secrets of the internet” booklets and free dvd, your images will be seen, and bought, by billions of happy internet browser.

They use as arguments their professional pedigree that ranges anywhere from the inventor of stock photography to ” i sold my agency for millions, therefore I know the market” . The tech companies themselves use exeptions as rules and claim that if one of their members succeeded therefor you can.

Let’s take a breather here. If you are such succesful photographer, why would you sell booklets and dvd for others to learn your ‘secrets ” and compete with you ? If you sold your agency, ( did you split the revenue with your photographers, btw ?) how does that make you a stock photo savant ? and why do you need to sell some more stuff if you are so succesful ?

Tech companies, usually started by computer wiz kids with no experience of the photo market, also seem to have cracked the holy grail of selling images online. All you ever needed was a billing and invoicing plug in to your website and the door of fortune will be open to you.

Let’s deflate some balloons here: There is no “magic trick” to photograph, no hidden secrets. There is certainly no one who has the magic formula to success. Even extremely talented and successful photographers would be hard press to explain to someone else how they did it. And if they did, what is the point. Have two hundred more of the same ?

That secret recipe doesn’t exist.  It’s different for everyone and for every market. Some photographers do very, very well in small towns because they have all the local companies, families, boutiques and publications as clients. Can they  teach you how you can do the same on the national market? no. because they don’t know.

Adding a licensing tool on your website will not make you rich. Or add revenues. Selling images is as much as professional as taking them. It’s not because you are a great photographer that you know how to sell your images. Actually, more often then not, it is the opposite.

You see them every year at Photoplus : thousands of stands promising that if you buy this or get this, or read this, or watch this, then you will be on top of the game. You see it all over blogs or photo news website : “See that sunshine on the other side? if you buy my book, package, dvd, lessons, software, plug in…i can take you there. hey, I”l even throw in a free goodie, I am so nice”

If their product was so good, then why don’t they apply it themselves instead of trying to sell it to others ? This recession seems to have brought forth more of them then ever. Don’t be fooled by these snake oil merchant. They want your hardly earned money in exchange for nothing.

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One Thought on “Snake oil

  1. Hi. When reading your post, I thought of the large number of people who turn to religions such as Wicca, incanting spells and the like. As I looked into this area in some depth at one point, I compiled a blog listing some of the typical things people get into. See for more. Regards, Mark

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