Photographers’ ‘Uber’ to launch this month – maybe

PICR (pronounced ‘picker’) a US start-up which describes itself as the Air BnB or Uber of professional photography, is set to launch to the public this month and has ambitions to operate in Australia and New Zealand some time next year.

picrPICR is claiming that over 22,000 photographers have already signed up for an account.

In a nutshell, here’s how it works:
– Photographers register to be a PICR photographer. They have to submit a portfolio to show they have some ability to actually take a photo before they are accepted.  ‘Although we are not looking for competition quality, we are looking for a clear and basic understanding of photographic principles as supported by the industry,’ PICR spokesperson Scott Hoffman explained in pro photographers’ website, Fstoppers.
There don’t seem to be any other checks on photographers  – for instance criminal record, financial health or customer or employer references. Beyond the launch period, there will be a PICR membership fee and fees for cloud storage.
– Photographers create their own profiles on the PICR site. (‘It’s like your own website except we will drive traffic to it.’) Photographers will specify their speciality, skill set and their pricing schedules.
– Once the service is live, potential clients will search for, say, a wedding photographer in a particular area and at a particular price, and then presumably check out the portfolios of the available photographers. When they choose a photographer for a job they book her or him directly from the PICR website, and pay the full quoted amount to PICR prior to the shoot. PICR takes a 15 percent commission and the rest goes to the photographer. (There is nothing to stop a potential client browsing the website and then contacting the photographer direct, but PICR doesn’t anticipate there will be much motive to do so.)
– The 15 percent cut, according to PICR, is for the profile page and driving traffic to it, along with administrative and marketing activity such as payment processing, booking, contract management; email reminders, scheduling tools, a client gallery and mobile device apps.

Vitaliy Rizhkov, founder and CEO of PICR was previoulsy involved in two other start-ups (both of which stalled: Finic, a canvas printing venture, and Hipture, an app for printing photos from mobile devices.

Vitaliy Rizhkov, founder and CEO of PICR was previously involved in two other photography-oriented start-ups (both of which stalled): Finic, a canvas printing venture, and Hipture, an app for printing photos from mobile devices.

The advantage for the photographer is being able to be more easily found (potentially leading to more bookings), simplification of the hiring process and the upfront payment for a booking.

The photographers’ dashboard area in their profiles will show how much he or she has earned, the number of profile views, future bookings and other details. As well as the public profile, there are tabs for messages, projects, calendar and specialities, with more to come.

The business was supposed to have launch to the public late in 2015, but has been delayed. PICR management insists it will roll out in the US from this month. As photographers’ profiles are yet to be incorporated into the site, this seems optimistic. However a NZ photographer, Mark Fa’amaoni, was told by PICR’s Scott Hoffman via Fstoppers that ‘we’ll be in NZ in about 14-18 months’.

The mooted launch of PICR was rolled up the flagpole in enthusiastic write-ups in US-based professional photographers’ websites late last year – but few saluted. Rather, a plethora of photographers posed a broad range of queries and expressed scepticism about the timeline for the launch and the viability of the business model.

Whatever the outcome, PICR has already acquired a valuable asset over the past several months – a database of 22K+ photographers’ email addresses! The Privacy Policy states: If PICR, Inc is involved in a merger, acquisition or asset sale, your Personal Information may be transferred as a business asset.

Photographers are being offered ‘free lifetime membership’ of PICR if they sign up five other photographers from their Facebook pages (rewards start at three), and six months free membership for signing up immediately.

– But are photographers the customers or the commodity in this venture?

ProCounter sought further information from PICR’s Scott Hoffman  but he did not respond.

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