I read an interesting excerpt from a book called “How Companies Win” where the authors (Rick Kash and David Calhoun) argue that we are in a state of oversupply and the companies that win are those who seek demand. They go on to say that “constant innovation–the ability to find and fulfill new demand opportunities–is essential.” We’ve gone from a supply and demand economy to a demand then supply economy. The old way of thinking was you supplied a product and built demand around it.
I’ve gotten a barrage of comments lately from people saying “nobody pays for photography anymore” and “photography is all but dead” and “technology killed photography.” And, I have to agree. “Photography” is in oversupply. If your job is simply delivering a photograph then all you are doing is adding to the oversupply. You don’t have to look further than the discussion boards on Sports Shooter where it was revealed in a deal for Gannett to buy US Presswire that photographers were happily shooting games for $100 (or on spec). How’s that for oversupply.
So, how does this new demand economy work: “the damand-and-supply world requires innovation, adaptation and flexibility.” The easiest examples of photographers innovating and reacting to demand are the those who shoot video and stills together and those who are using social media to reach their clients or their clients customers. Photographers who are creative problem solvers have always been in demand. The top tier of photography is mostly comprised of people who can solve problems.
I believe the job of photographer has always evolved (from chemist to technical guru to creative problem solver) and while this may be the most radical evolution we’ve seen, it doesn’t mean there are not opportunities for those willing to innovate. I met someone recently who started an advertising agency so he could give himself photography jobs. Sounds crazy, but really he’s just filling a demand he discovered.