Splitting Atoms

On Sunday I had a few parallel discussions regarding some possible future business models of photography.

My contention was that it should be relatively simple to add a ‘customer’ account type to sites like modelmayhem.com and inject some ‘industry’ into the ecology.

I wasn’t ready for what happened, but it shouldn’t have surprised me! I got a couple of quite different responses, but most were, on balance, negative.

One member of MM, The Devine Emily Fine, had posted this link to a TED video which I think encapsulates the ‘ether’ that my ideas exist in.  It’s a good watch, all the way through … go ahead and watch it … I’ll wait here.

I believe that the way customers engage creative professionals could change. It should change because those that offer a service will likely be challenged, while those that offer an experience should thrive.

This obviously works for retail / consumer oriented photographers; one of my favorite wedding photographers has created his entire brand about associating his customers with an exciting experience.

So why not let this creep into ‘the industry’?

Why not offer a path that enables clients, who otherwise would not have the production / art direction capabilities on their own, the ability to purchase creative services via the web?

The answer I got was “Well, we did the market research and no one is interested. They want to continue to go to a bricks-and-mortar agency”. Well, pardon me, but … “Duh!”

That has to be right up there with the predictions of “5 computers in the world” or “640k of RAM is enough”! Of course it works… today… because they are operating in today.

But press the fast forward button just a little, and do you think that long-distance outsourcing might happen? – just as it has for every other industry? It would be arrogant to think that what you do is so special, so unique, that no one else could ever do it. (As an aside, China and India graduate more geniuses every year than the whole US graduates students… yeah, you’re sooo special…). So create a unique experience of it, and offer it to the world. It works for this guy, so why not the rest of us?

So get ahead of the curve. By splitting the creativity away from the mundane functions of the participants in a creative endeavour, and giving those mundane functions a Web 2.0 ecology, you should be enabled to focus the right talent on the creative aspects of a project, casting, or single assignment for anyone, from anywhere. Add a bidding and staged payment system (a la eBay / PayPal), and you are most of the way there.

I’ll stop my rant here, and let this percolate for a while…

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