Thursday, 9 June 2011

[] Commercial photography and the Internet

By Avram Farshi

Social networking has revolutionised the way people communicate and share information in recent years. Twitter is fast becoming the world's favourite newsfeed and Facebook now has 700 million users. In line with this, photography has undergone its own revolution, with digital imaging going mainstream and semi-professional equipment becoming far less expensive.

One website unites the world of social media with the world of digital photography - Flickr. Now the world's most popular website for sharing photos, Flickr provides users with an intuitive, great looking platform for uploading and displaying photos online. Despite being produced by amateurs, many of the images are very high quality, and billions have been uploaded. What commercial photographers want to know is how this will affect their business.

Recent natural disasters such as the Australian floods have been extensively documented by users on Flickr, with amateur photographers uploading images from the scene as the situation was happening. News outlets were then able to source images quickly and at very low cost without ever having to despatch a professional photographer.

Flickr's growing importance is illustrated by the fact that it is now partnered with world-leading stock photo agency Getty Images. Getty can now make a request to add any photo on Flickr to its own library, giving amateurs a potential platform from which to get more exposure and possibly some remuneration.

It's not hard to see why Flickr is so popular. Camera phones are ubiquitous, and in a world overloaded with information, people like the immediacy of photography. Importantly, though, commercial photographers shouldn't feel threatened. Many professionals already showcase their work on Flickr, and the site offers plenty of opportunities for self-promotion, ultimately giving photographers another way of pulling in more business.

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