Trends in the Photo Industry: 8

In the last blog post, I showed two examples of photos from green screen executions at the Long Beach IndyCar race this past month.  One was from our photo set — which utilizes Arri video lighting, a 20′ green screen scrim, prop car, a DSLR Nikon transmitting photos via ethernet to a laptop.  Photos are immediately available by participants for RFID uploading to their social networking sites and email.  The other photo was from an “execution” that utilized an iPhone to take the photo, make the combination via an application, and send the photo to the participants email.

I said: “Unless you can clearly differentiate yourself from an iPhone application, you might as well hang it up.”

And I can hear the squeals out there!  “Oh, that arrogant prick, of course I’m better than an iPhone application!” you rant, “I’m a rock star.”  (Blatantly stealing my marketing.)

Uh – huh.  I’ve seen some of your pics.  I look on your sites.  I know what’s out there.  And some of you are great — creating dynamic images that drive brand.  Others: not so much.

And, I’ll remind you of my favorite quote from someone who owns multiple photo booths:

“The photo isn’t important.”

That person, by the way, had at least two booths last year in Long Beach.  This year, he didn’t have any.  Perhaps the photo was important.

Cell phone photos are here to stay.  The question is: how can we incorporate that technology, that love of selfies, into our photo marketing executions.  Does it have to be an either/or approach?  Can’t it be an “and”?  What I mean is, what if there was a way to tap into all those selfies, all those informal candids that participants upload, and incorporate them into what you do.  You, as the pro-photographer, provide great images they can’t capture — but help them leverage all those photos they are taking on their phones.  If you can do that, and wrap it up with client branding, you’ll be able to create an addition to what you offer instead of just glaring at the fool with the cell phone.  Just a thought.

What causes a participant to upload a photo to social media?  What makes an image one they want to share?

Well, first, they have to love it.  That seems obvious enough — but if the participant thinks, “I look fat in that photo”, well, are they going to share it with 300 of their closest Facebook friends?  Probably not.


Not everyone is pretty.  What then?  What about the 700 lb man in the pit-stained shirt?

If you can design your photo execution around a flattering concept — something that takes the brain from “I look fat” to “OMG! That is soooo cool”, the photos will fly up to Facebook.  And, as an added benefit, it’s something an iPhone application can’t do.

An iPhone can capture a photo — maybe even a great one.  But it’s just a robot, and the creativity and design that you bring to a shoot can drive your business.  Always remember —

The photo is important.

Which brings me to my very last point.  Today on Twitter I came across this photo, Tweeted by the US Embassy in China?  Korea?  I don’t remember, of President Obama disembarking Airforce One.  Obviously, this was taken by a staffer on an iPhone at night.

They Tweeted it out.  Could it be worse?

And do you know:  no one commented it was a terrible photo, except snarky old me.  I said, “what, did your camera break?”

But the fact that news organizations, professional groups, even government agencies THINK it’s OK to distribute an image that isn’t even in focus is amazing. 

This is what you are up against as a photographer.  This is your competition.  Take a good look.
For right now, your competition is worse than Jack In The Box after an e colli outbreak.  But don’t expect that to last.
And news organizations: hire a damned photographer.