Field Report:

The Non-Glamorous Side of Photography

Getting Found by Photo Buyers

I skimmed through an article in Photo District News (PDN) about Urban Outfiiters photography choices and the part that really caught my attention was a quote from their photo buyer recommending to photographers to stop wasting money on mailers and focus on web marketing. She specifically referred to blogging, Flickr, and social media because that is where she goes to find new photographers to photograph for her brand. She said she spends a lot of time seeking out new photography blogs so she knows who is out there shooting what.

From what I have read, these days there seems to be an equal mix of art buyers who say they still prefer traditional marketing methods versus those who actively seek out photography online via Google, Flickr, blogging, etc…. But in the coming years as a younger generation of art buyers gets into the workforce, we will probably see a majority swing to web 2.0 because younger demographics have grown up during the internet age and have less reservations about working with people they meet online.

Times are changing so fast culturally that it is only a matter of time before that day comes. It was just nine years ago that I had a college marketing professor state that no internet company had yet figured out a way to become profitable. Now, things that used to be taboo to talk about, such as online dating, have become a standard way to meet people. Photo buyers are people too and it is only natural that they consume social media just like anyone else. Photographers who haven’t yet accepted this cultural-shift or are too scared to jump into the web 2.0 world are kidding themselves. True, there may be some well-established photographers who can probably ride out the rest of their career without changing a thing but it is also no coincidence that there are a lot of pros who grumble about how good things used to be in the 80’s and 90’s.

Another way to look at web marketing is that it can open up a whole new world of opportunities. Within the traditional photo buying market, you have ad agencies / publishing companies / art galleries / etc… where you have every working and aspiring photographer targeting that same small niche of photo buyers. With the internet, anyone with an internet connection and a need for photos is a potential customer. Suddenly you go from competing in a crowded market where there are only several thousand potential customers to a market where you have tens of millions potential customers.


May 10, 2010 - Posted by | Marketing, Photo Business, Photo Industry News, Web | , , ,


  1. Interesting thoughts Richard. It should be noted that when your college prof made his statement we were about to see the Internet Bubble pop…the period where an idea on a napkin that spelled “web” correctly could be VC funding. But I digress…

    While everyone should have internet based marketing as a way to get in front of photo buyers, it’s still valuable to know who your target photo buyer is. I think too many people miss the Business 101 step of “know thy customer”. Once you know who they are, you can do creative targeted marketing toward them…this is the when the hard part of standing out from the crowd helps.

    Sounds like a interesting discussion thread, except why give your competitors a potential edge you discovered? 🙂

    Comment by latoga | May 10, 2010 | Reply

  2. I think it depends on the art buyer. I have clients that love receiving my direct mail pieces and have limited interest and time to be surfiing through websites blogs etc.

    Comment by Alan Majchrowicz | May 10, 2010 | Reply

  3. Thanks guys. Good points. That is just the opinion of one photo buyer, one who makes it clear that they are not about following the status quo, but an opinion that makes a lot of sense to me at the same time.

    Comment by Richard Wong | May 10, 2010 | Reply

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