Selling Images is Like Selling Cameras | Thom Hogan

Today’s email is a riff on what I’ve been writing about cameras and the hardware that the camera makers have been giving us: “the new mantra in the business is [also] ‚Good Enough.‘  I’ve seen it in a flood of local cookbooks: poor unbalanced lighting, soft focus, bad composition, etc. It surprises me that any photo editor/publisher would allow any of it to get through. But then It’s ‚Good Enough‘. Does no one care more?

Selling images these days is tough. Really tough. Two things have happened in the selling of images that mimic what happened in the selling of cameras:

  1. The low end got better (e.g. smartphones take good photos). Plus digital cameras gave amateur shooters the instant feedback needed to improve their imaging quickly, while the digital cameras themselves have gotten far better to the point where things that even pros had a hard time doing (shooting in very low light) are de rigueur.
  2. The race for growth and especially growth in profits starts a race to the bottom (e.g. cut costs and deliver good enough products, as opposed to deliver best possible products). Publications—even highly profitable ones—got very worried about the Internet, a recession or two, lack of growth in circulation, and more. For some reason they all seem to think that cutting content expenses are the route to better results. Only problem is, content is what gets the customers that you sell to advertisers. The appearance of stock photography at wicked low prices has also driven everyone to using the same core batch of images……….