The founders of two large Australian online photography platforms, Snappr and Photographers.com.au, have identified the recent troubles facing the AIPP as a business development opportunity, and joined forces to invite disillusioned Institute members aboard.
Snappr founders, Matt Schiller and Ed Kearney, along with Photographers.com.au founder, David Lye, issued a statement to ProCounter following the turmoil faced by the Institute earlier this year.
‘In recent months, the AIPP has been haemorrhaging members and has reportedly faced a severe cash flow crisis. It has now closed it’s National Office and been operating under a caretaker management since its National Board resigned,’ the statement, which was sent at the beginning of April, says. ‘In our inter nations with the executive team, we observed repeated signs of disorganisation and resistance to change or cooperation. Sadly, it seems that their intractability is now hurting the photographers they were pledged to serve.
‘Fortunately the recent collapse of the AIPP has come at a time when technology solutions for photographers have never been stronger. Our platforms are committed to delivering for photographers where the AIPP of the past has failed.’
It’s without doubt an opportunistic swipe at the AIPP to grow both businesses’ networks – all three compete for professional and semi-pro photographer membership.
‘We want to take this opportunity to reach out to all photographers who have relied on the AIPP’s services and invite them to experience the swell of business that new technology solutions can bring at minimal cost to them.’
ProCounter sought a response from the AIPP’s new Board of Directors – Melinda Comerford, Craig Wetjen, Melissa Newmann, John Swainston, Louise Bagger, Steve Wise and David Simmonds.
‘The AIPP Board notes with interest and caution, the assertion made by the directors of Snappr and Photographers.com.au that “the collapse of the AIPP” has occurred. It has not. Both of their organisations compete for photographer membership and work. Such statements from organisations seeking to benefit from changes with the AIPP are unfounded – they will find that the AIPP is in fact alive and well.’
The Board adds it’s business as usual at the AIPP – the Epson State Awards are underway, and the National APPA event and trade show will go ahead this August in Melbourne.
‘With close to 3,000 members, we have made some major changes in our operating back office arrangements to develop new capabilities in the medium term, and a new Board, duly elected, is in place. AIPP as an organisation continues to focus on its mission of developing photographers and the standard of photography through its Accredited Professional Photographer program.’
For those unfamiliar with Snappr and Photographers.com.au, here’s a little background.
Snappr, an on-demand photography start-up offering 30-minute shoots from $59, is attempting to be the ‘Airbnb of photography’. The platform launched in 2016 after successfully raising millions of dollars in investments, followed by an aggressive marketing campaign to recruit photographers and find them work. It has upwards of a thousand photographers in Australia.
‘Snappr provides a fully-managed solution for a pre-vetted group of photographers, where the platform absorbs all of their admin, financial, and marketing overheads,’ the statement says. ‘Photographers pay no upfront fees with Snappr, and Snappr takes a small cut of bookings that get sent a photographer’s way. More than half of Snappr customers report they would not have been users of paid photography before discovering the service.’
Snappr caught the attention of many in the photo industry, including the AIPP which labelled the business model a potential ‘threat’ to traditional professional photography in 2016.
‘But we understand that for someone who is just “dipping their toe” into the world of professional photography, the Snappr model of looking after the marketing, pricing, delivery and service may be attractive, although as the photographers grow and develop, we expect they will want more control of these key areas of their business themselves, wrote AIPP former executive officer, Peter Myers.
‘We just wish they wouldn’t confuse everyone by insisting on calling anyone with a great camera and who has done a few paid jobs a “professional”. Despite these concerns, we don’t see Snappr as “cannibalising” our traditional business. If they are clearer about who their photographers are, we’d see them as an ally helping to raise awareness of the need for better quality photographs and better photography.
Interestingly, it’s likely half of the AIPP membership are emerging or student members.
These photographers, who the AIPP plans to maintain by guiding them toward a career through its Accredited Professional Photographer program, are an ideal fit for Snappr.
Professional photography has already been disrupted by entry-level photographers offering cheap services, however some are concerned Snappr is in a position to cause more harm by assembling these photographers and establishing race-to-the-bottom prices.
Photographers.com.au is an online user-generated photographers directory, where people can search for an image-maker from around the country. The directory claims to have 5000 photographers listed.
While there’s more differences than similarities between the AIPP and Photographers.com.au, both are in competition by offering a search directory.
‘Photographers.com.au provides its core directory service free of charge, and has always driven many times more traffic and paying customers to Aussie photographers than the AIPP’s fledgling ‘Find a Pro’ service,’ David says in the statement. ‘The site’s premium membership service is available from $19 per month, compared to the AIPP’s $550 annual fee for Accredited Membership.’ Ouch!
In response, the AIPP says: ‘With a new lower cost base, and new initiatives under way, the Institute will be welcoming all photographers keen on enhancing imaging outcomes for clients as members, and improving the many existing values in membership that a simple annual fee comparison overlooks.’
Professional photographers can be listed on Photographers.com.au for free, with no vetting process in place. Additionally they can pay either $19 or $32 per month to receive marketing benefits, the businesses’ primary income stream.
Free listings provide photographers a profile page, images uploads, quote requests, customer reviews, and account analytics.
The $19 Professional package adds contact details, larger and higher placement above basic profiles, and social media links.
The $32 Professional + package adds placement on the website’s homepage, blind quote requests that sends jobs to up to 10 photographers within 200km of a client, and video uploads.
While the AIPP Search for a Professional directory is an added benefit for members, it hasn’t taken off to create a steady marketing resource for members. The average photography client may not visit the AIPP website and utilise the homepage search bar.
Can all three co-exist?
The Snappr/Photographers statement ends on a positive note, hopeful that all three organisations may work in harmony in the future.
‘We hope it (the new Board of Directors) is more open and future-looking than its predecessor. We plan to reach out to the newly elected board about working constructively together in a changing photography industry.’
The AIPP, Snappr, and Photographers.com.au all offer a different service to its members – photographers – and at a different price.
Instead of going on an editorial rant, ProCounter invites readers to let us know what you think!
Is the Snappr and Photographers.com.au statement is a valid pitch, or sucker punch at a scrambling non-profit that aims to represent the interests of professional photographers?
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