Meet the App That's 'Replacing Selfie Sticks' With Professional Photographers

Meet the App That's 'Replacing Selfie Sticks' With Professional Photographers

Lately, I’ve noticed a huge surge in the number of emails I’ve received inquiring about my interest in partnering up with a website or app that claims to be shaping the next generation of holiday photo. One email even introduced its company’s services with a tagline of “the app that’s replacing selfie sticks.”

The principal idea is this: instead of trying to take your holiday pictures yourself, you can book a photographer on short notice to shadow your family holiday and take professional-standard photos. Most of the companies running with this concept are assembling a directory of photographers in cities across the globe, so that no matter where it is you’re venturing to, there’s likely someone on hand. When referring to the process of booking a photographer, one particular site I encountered is using words like "summon," making it sound reminiscent of Uber, like some kind of dial-a-photographer service. You know, so if you stumble across something rather scenic on holiday and decide that, actually, you want a "professional" picture, you can just call someone out. I know the creative industry is often last-minute, but this is certainly taking it up a notch.

It’s not an entirely new concept, and in many senses, it is similar in nature to engagement portraits. Everybody wants the option to revisit good memories, and in the digital era, there's an increasing demand for photos in the highest possible resolution. 

There’s certainly been a rise in the number of companies specializing in holiday photographer services. Many launching the service are even using Kickstarter campaigns to get things off the ground, offering pledgers a photoshoot any place in the world that their company has a photographer based.

What are your thoughts? Is this a cheap gimmick to capitalize on the self-indulgent selfie stick generation, or is it a smart business venture that will soon become an essential part of any holiday? From a photographer’s point of view, are you interested in working as a professional tourist photographer? Should we be grateful for more potential work opportunities at a time when cameraphones are improving in quality, or is this just trivializing our work?

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33 Comments

Studio 403's picture

what is the app called? Ken

Jack Alexander's picture

I wanted to keep it anonymous for the purposes of the article since I was unsure of whether the reaction would be a positive one or not, but I will PM you their details.

I'll be also thankful for the name of the app

Christopher Eaton's picture

I too would like the name.

This business model won't work, First of all a selfie is "free" and the general public is cheap. Too many variables, and there is a wide range of abilities out there. We have all seen self proclaimed "Professional" photographers that are quite frankly right out of the dark corners of Craigslist.

Jack Alexander's picture

I'm assuming the agencies will have some kind of filtering, although unless they have branches all over the world it may be hard to monitor all of their photographers. I've seen a few boast about how they have 4-500 photographers worldwide, but it seems they have only one office...

@David, water used to be free... the differentiator was the perception of quality and benefit to the consumer. A well respected service would help eliminate the Craigslist factor, too. Am I a strong believer in this service? No. Does that mean it won't be a viable business if done the right way - I think that's too quick a judgment to make. Take the comparison to Uber... before Uber, Taxi's were notoriously unpleasant. A significant improvement in quality and a strong community of supporters made something that was sketchy into something that was in demand.

Christopher Eaton's picture

The service doesn't need everyone - even if most people are cheap, many people are not. There are plenty of things in the world that people can do for free themselves yet pay others to do for them.

Jeff McCollough's picture

I fell asleep reading this article.

Jack Alexander's picture

You can type full, coherent sentences in your sleep?! You should give up taking photos, because that right there is a special talent!

Mauricio Bonilla's picture

Don't know if it's too niche, but seems like a pretty novel idea if people see the value in it and are willing to pay accordingly. What I do see more often lately are craigslist ads of people (couples and social groups) wanting to hire pro photographers to follow them around for a few hours capturing their evening or event. That being said, it's not for me.

Jack Alexander's picture

Someone pointed out to me on Twitter that it may come in handy in the sense that photographers (presuming they're based where the shoot is taking place) would know all the best places to shoot. I guess time will tell if it's viable or not.

Lee Ramsden's picture

Knowing the right spots for a shoot, is a good idea in one hand,
but on the other, the photographer is no longer shadowing your holiday. They are now directing it.
People who have the cash and are more interested in showing off pictures of their holiday than living it. Im sure have photographers in mind.

There will be a market for this, and if it gets photographers work then brilliant - all for that!

Who cares if it's like Uber? If it's like Uber, no one is forcing you to participate.

A lot of people might actually find this profitable, fun, or (*gasp*) both.

Quentin Decaillet's picture

I didn't know this existed as an app. However, I do know a couple of photographers that already offer similar services and make a living out of it. Shadowing couples or families while they're on vacation and taking their pictures here and there. Most of these photographers usually are also tourist guides and can make great money if they can attract the right clientele.

As for a service similar to Uber, why not. I mean, if business is slow at some point in the year, it could be worth giving it a try, who knows… I don't think it replaces anything else, it's just a new service :)

Antonio Carrasco's picture

As with any app or website that commoditizes photographers, you, the photographer, ends up losing.

Samantha Autumn's picture

I AGREE, BY THE TIME THE APP GETS PAID THE PHOTOGRAPHER IS LEFT WITH PENNIES.

Phil Newton's picture

Hey if you're on holidays somewhere yourself, and your phone chimes up with a gig for the next day photographing a family on holiday too, I think it's great. Might cut a chunk off the cost of your own holiday!! Like uber, it's just making a bit of cash doing what you're doing anyway.

We at atselfie.com let people make their fashion statement . The best selfie of the day from each category features on our SWAG SELFIE section. And if a selfie bowls us over, we display it in atselfie.comARE YOU A SWAG? section. So what are you waiting for? Ain't you swag? :)

michael buehrle's picture

thanks for your input on the article.

Olafs Osh's picture

That "on the short notice" thing is the biggest problem.

Of course, I am not talking for everyone, but I guess any good photographer, who is already making a living out of it, won't be bothered to participate in the venture, where you have to react to an order without any planning and by this possibly compromising your own schedule.

Also money won't be that good in any case. This will leave this service for beginners as a side job, etc. Of course, there can be good results, but overall this will be considered as a "cheap-ish" service. And in this light - why not use selfie stick and get some extra beers for the money not spent.

It depends on the business model. My guess is that in order to be successful, they will have to charge a low fee to get people interested. That means pennies for the pro who has to scramble to meet the client, take images and probably edit them in an unreasonable amount of time.

Musical artists can tell you how well Spotify is working out for them...

It's called the Sia App.

I'm aware of at least one company that has offered this service to visitors at Walt Disney World for several years now. I think it's a great idea; but it definitely would be a high fee/low volume business model (the company, not the app). It doesn't seem like it would be a good idea for an app because I think most people who would find a photographer from an app would be shopping on price alone.

Robert Holak's picture

Remember the good old days when this need was solved by handing your camera to a stranger and letting them take your photo? Now, people will buy the most awkward gadgets or even hire someone because there's so much fear and even real risk of the camera getting stolen.

Anonymous's picture

I also remember the good old days, wait it was just the other day, when I was shooting an event and everyone and their sister asked me to take their picture with their phone...

Robert Holak's picture

Sure, people still ask you to do that. Like you said, though, you were shooting an event so people are a lot more eager to get some free photography grunt work from somebody that looks like they know what they are doing vs. stopping a random passer-by to take their photos. Already having a camera in action seems to make people think you are safe.
Once a photographer, always a selfie stick?

Seriously? This is titled "Meet the App" but you don't include the name of a link to the app?

Anonymous's picture

I have always wanted to be like Sean Penn and have my own photo crew follow me around, whether it's to rescue people in Katrina or to out drug kingpins. It looks like this app is right up my alley - and maybe I can sign up and follow people around the Orlando theme parks while I'm at it.

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