Your stock photography at work :

Cepic dresden arthubg

For those who have never been, this is a CEPIC congress. Rows and rows of tables and chairs. Every hour, on the hour, people move from one table to the other, looking at another computer screen while listening to a used pitch.

Really, it is a bunch of suplliers looking for new content to propose to they customers back home. Like a big fish market. There not much talk about photography here, instead its more about volume (size of a collection), percentages and distribution. They then break for lunch where they all eat bad food. And then they start again. If that is not enough, they have the option to go in stuffy break rooms where bored people listen to panels about the business of photography for hours on.

Once they are finished, they all get together for a cocktail party where they try and enjoy themselves while eating some more bad food. All this for three days. Non stop.

If  a real photographer would walk in this room, they would cry ( they are not allowed in) . It is like walking in a warehouse full of accountants. And this is being going for decades. The same companies, the same people, doing the same thing. None try to grow and none never did. If they are lucky, they will sell for few millions to one of the big ones and forever retire. If not, maybe their kids will take over. Maybe not.

Every year they all sit down and look at those screens hoping not to be left behind, in this incessant race to survive.  Microstock is eating them alive, and they all talk about jumping in, maybe. Or hope it will disappear. Video footage? yes ? no ? maybe ?.It’s too much, too fast, too soon. None, however, feel that they are a dying breed. They hang on.

This is no different than any other distribution trade. You have a shop, you go and fetch products to please you customers. By the pound (sorry, the thousands of images). People come from all over the world, China, Korea, India, Pakistan etc to make these exchanges. I will represent your stuff, you will represent mine. Hours on of these repetitive discussion and deal making. An hour at a time. Every hour, for three days. A mini marathon of meetings that leave you drained and exhausted. And empty.

No one really leaves happy because there is no reason to. It’s just another season and summer vacations are not so far .  No giant leaps, no creative destruction, no innovation, no waves. The goal here is to stay alive, to survive another year, another term. Certainly not to take any risks.

All return home their pockets full of notes, business cards and their ears full of comments and opinions. Mostly reassuring, because that is what they were seeking. The deals made will be executed and some secrets will be passed on.

But none, not one, will ever come home a say : ” Man, I saw this incredible picture when I was at Cepic”

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