FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Monday, May 09, 2005

Wedding Photographers: Yet Another Profession Challenged By Progress

The other day we talked about how bicycle messengers were being made obsolete by e-mail and the Internet. Now, we learn that wedding photographers are being threatened by the rapid pace of technological change.

A great deal of a photographer's income comes from making reprints of portraits. Since they control the negatives, this has been an easy way for them to make money. These days, however, customers can simply scan the prints on their home computers and make as many prints as they like. They can even take them to commercial photo kiosks... at least ones where the staff don't check closely for copyright violations.

Additionally, customers increasingly want to be able to share their photos online, either by e-mailing them or posting them to a photo-sharing site such as Flickr. This doesn't jibe with the wedding photographer's traditional practice of presenting the photos in bound albums.

Unlike bike messengers, the primary service of any kind of professional photographer -- taking high-quality photographs that are properly lit and composed -- will always be in demand. Over time, though, photographers may need to change their business tactics. For instance, instead of relying on making reprints, they can charge a higher up-front price, provide the customer with negatives or digital copies of the prints, waive any copyrights to their work, and charge an annual "archiving" fee to securely store negatives or digital copies. They can also offer added services such as choreographing the photos to a DVD or PowerPoint slide show.

Ultimately it's a win-win situation; the customer feels as if they're getting value and have full control over photographs that they, after all, paid for. And the photographer can make a profit and not feel as though he or she is being ripped off.

Sources: Techdirt, The Inquirer