New Startup Aims to Revolutionize the Way You Manage Your Photography Business

New Startup Aims to Revolutionize the Way You Manage Your Photography Business

There is a new cat in town and it's roaring like a lion. PICR is a startup from Portland, Oregon that promises to make your life as a photographer easier. They have created a platform for photographers that could build a bridge between the potential consumer and the service provider. An online agent of sorts. Can they really deliver?

PICR was launched in early November and there are, for the moment, 20,000 photographers who signed up for the pre-launch. It's a huge number for a service that is not yet up and running and it shows how much photographers dream of spending less time on marketing and client research. That common dream makes us a particular type of consumer that has yet to find the right offer. 

PICR will start operating in Portland, and plans to expand rapidly across the U.S. in their first year of activity. If things go well they are considering an international venture in the future. 

So what are they selling? The first promise is to bring the clients to you. PICR is announcing that they will do the heavy lifting. In exchange for a commission fee (10–15 percent of the work booked through the platform) they want to use their marketing assets to bring clients to the platform.They will start off by targeting clients that have needs in portraiture, weddings, and other standard photography requests, so all local business at the beginning, with the goal to reach national brands in the future.

The second promise is a set of powerful management tools for a hassle free booking system, including an integrated calendar that will allow photographers to keep track of their planned sessions and define their schedule depending on their availability, as well as a messaging system allows them to communicate with the clients directly without having to keep track of contact details.

The cherry on the cake is photographers will set their own prices and will be paid in advance for their work (when I read that one, I almost fell off my chair; it’s kind of unheard of in the industry)!

Yes, you need to pass the bouncers at the door. Any photographer that signs up will need to present their work to the team at PICR. So your portfolio will be vetted by other photographers as they only take professionals. That said, the criteria doesn't seem to be too rigid: as long as they see that a photographer has an understanding of basic photographic principles, has quality post production techniques, and is able to produce quality work consistently is good to go. So it should not be an approbation of style but a validation of technique.

Is this too good to be true? Not necessarily. The fact that they have already 20,000 applicants, without actual activity to show for, underlines that there is serious demand for this type of service. The PICR team has six photographers on staff for the moment, they do focus groups and they often reach out to local photographers for feedback and thoughts on ideas they have on the marketplace. So their platform should be as close to photographers expectations as possible. Hence the future of their project will not depend on the photographers enlisted but on the clients they manage to attract. Let's wish them well. We can always use some extra clients.

Log in or register to post comments

53 Comments

Wm Lynch's picture

could not sign up

I just signed up and I find it fascinating that you can't even build there own website and social media platform proper.
I signed and it takes you to a page to "Invite other photographers to our pre-launch notifications and get a FREE LIFETIME membership!" I copied the link and emailed it to my friends, my fiends clicked on the link and it goes to the exact same page I was on. No way of entering your friend's email to confirm you referred a friend. Smells like either a bad website design or a scam.

Anna Dabrowska's picture

Did they ask you for any money? If they did not it's not a scam it's a startup meaning the beginning is a bit messy...let's see what happens in the future

There are also scams to get email addresses. When you are told youll get a free lifetime membership but need to send other peoples info in and you STILL dont get a product? Yeah, thats a scam.

Lifetime membership is what you are getting in return for referring your friends. Offering something in return for friend/referral signups is nothing new. AirBnB and other companies do this currently. No scam here :)

Good point. I hopped on the hate train. Although there are some compelling arguments as to why this business wont work in the comment section of this post.

"The fact that they have already 20,000 applicants, without actual activity to show for, underlines that there is serious demand for this type of service."

Are you sure about that statement, and that it's truly needed by "pro" photographers? Please define "pro", and then I'll show you the ones that label themselves as such having no problems whatsoever, a) getting paid (maybe not in advance but a retainer) ... b) being organized enough to manage one of many Calendar applications on the market.

Now for *some* photographers that would like to be "pro" some day without learning how to do the business side of becoming one... well... let them fight it out and may the best photographer win. But he/she will probably still not be a "pro".

Anna Dabrowska's picture

Hi Doc Pixel: what is your definition of a pro photographer?

Technically: anyone with a camera that can consistently take quality pictures that people want and are willing to pay for. As for business...everything that's in the word, including: discipline, marketing, ethics, and a number of other criteria that determines whether you are simply "in business", and/or successful as a business.

There's no easy "one-click" way, whether it's to become a good photographer, a respected and successful businessperson... or at the end... to consider yourself worthy of the "pro" in front of your occupation.

Personally, I prefer to wait for the compliment of "pro", before pointing my "lens-dust blower" AKA mouth at someone and shouting that I demand respect for my self-embellishment.

Being humble has it's advantages. One of which is being skeptical of people trying to sell one-click solutions to tasks that should be learned first and may take time, and enhanced with technology advances later to speed up the workflow.

With all due respect Anna, but with just a little bit of research you would have found that the people behind PICR are absolutely delusional. I first heard about this here:

http://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthread.php?t=1434647

And back in June the founder of PICR wrote this article:

http://startuplabs.com/blog/we-have-less-than-500k-left/

"We Have Less Than $500K Left and Nothing to Say for Ourselves"

This company has burned through capital, has changed its business plan several times over the last few months, and they don't show any indication that they understand the actual needs of professional photographers. There is very little chance, IMHO, that this will actually turn into a real business and if it does I don't see it lasting any longer than six months. And as can be seen in the comments the sign-up system isn't even working properly.

I don't think that these guys are scam artists but they don't know how to run a business. And they really don't deserve a platform like this to promote their "pie in the sky" but completely unverifiable claims.

Jon Wolding's picture

They burned through $500,000 in less than 3 months!

A team of 18 people collectively sold only one print for $45 in April.
They could've made more sales in a Walmart parking lot.

Scott Hoffman's picture

Mark, you are correct that our founder's previous business, Finic, did not move mountains. But, in their frustration in trying to find a local product photographer for Finic, PICR was born. We are neither a scam, nor short on cash. One of our founders, Vitaliy, writes in his personal blog, where his goal is to be completely transparent about the real journey to launch a successful company. You can read more about his take on financing here:http://startuplabs.com/blog/outside-investment/.

I've already stated that I don't think that you are a scam. But what happened to Finic? Why did Hipture close down? How long have you worked on the PICR concept? You do realize that the concept behind PICR is hardly unique?

The PICR website went live around about the 14th of July, not in early November. According to the start up blog, of the 20,000 photographers who signed up for the pre-launch, 16,000 signed up prior to September.

The website went live 3 weeks after Vitaliy said "We have less than $500K left and nothing to say for ourselves."

How have you managed to employ 22 people between July and November with no income without burning through cash? You are speaking to a community of business people here: we can do the maths. If everyone signs up now and gets six months free you won't be getting any actual revenue until May next year.

And the absence of actual information on your website speaks volumes. You've provided more information in the comments section here than you can find by searching your website, and the website is confusing with hyper-links that disappear when you visit other pages.

How exactly are you going to market registered photographers to the consumer? Obviously you have a website. But how are you going to drive traffic to that website? A team of 22 is much too small to do anything other than get better SEO. And if I am one of a hundred photographers from a small town registered to PICR, what does the service do to make me stand out? How much research have you done into how people make their decision to buy photography, and why did you think it was a good idea to start with creating a supply of photographers before determining demand?

Scott: with all due respect to both yourself and to Vitaliy: I'm not seeing anything here worth signing up for. You haven't proven there is a market for the services you are offering to consumers. And it is laughingly easy to get around paying your 15% fee: all the consumer has to do is find a photographer on your directory then they contact them directly. Sending an invoice for payment takes less than a minute and I doubt that any of the tools that you offer will be more efficient than what is on the market now.

Uber was genuinely disruptive to the marketplace. So was microstock. Both have given consumers fantastic benefits. But both Uber and microstock have driven down prices and conditions and have made things generally worse for both drivers and photographers. Fortunately there isn't anything genuinely disruptive about PICR.

Michael Comeau's picture

How many jobs have been booked through this service?

I'm guessing zero.

Scott Hoffman's picture

Since we are a couple weeks from launching, the ability to book a job isn't available, but ask us again in a few weeks. :)

gabe s's picture

They have been doing sign ups since August. No mention of who these marketing contacts are. No clear definition of how it works. There is one chart of how it works, but no clearly defined plan or model of how this would help your business. I agree with others that it is not a scam, but they really don't know what exactly they are doing.

Scott Hoffman's picture

Gabe, our business model is fairly simple. We are taking the disjointed process of finding a photographer and simplifying it for consumers and businesses. Until now, a consumer who didn't know a photographer had 3 choices for finding one: ask for a referral from friends, search engines and Craigslist. The last 2 are the most common. But, finding a photographer on the search engines means finding one who is the best marketer, not necessarily the best photographer and there's no simple way to compare and contrast shooting styles, pricing or availability. Craigslist results are shown by the most recent posted ad, so the consumer ends up right back at best marketer versus the right photographer.
At the same time, photographers have no common website theme (nor should they) or platform where they can demonstrate their capability and style, build and own their pricing, packages and availability or work from a level, apples to apples playing field in the specialties they desire. Additionally, many photographers struggle with their marketing efforts- cost, where to promote and the time it takes to successfully market themselves.
PICR is not being built for the photographer who is swamped with work, nor for the amateur who just bought gear and posted an ad on Craigslist, accelerating a "race to the bottom" pricing model.
How it works is simple- a consumer who wants/needs a photographer for a moment that matters on a certain date in a certain city will see profiles for all of the photographers who fit that specialty, date and location. They will be able to see sample portfolio images, packages and a la carte options and to book the photographer they want. As a photographer, you'll receive a confirming email that gives you 24 hours to accept the booking. You'll be able to message your future client, etc. We collect and escrow payment from the client at the time of booking and release those funds to you once the job is completed. So, I'll bring you clients you probably wouldn't have found on your own and take a 15% referral fee for finding them for you.
I'm Scott, you can reach me at Scott@picr.com. I am the primary marketing contact for PICR and we know exactly what we are doing.

Anonymous's picture

"we know exactly what we are doing".... Love that. :-)

Scott Hoffman's picture

For photographers who want to sign up, please visit PICR.com/photographer.

Anonymous's picture

That link doesn't work. Sends you to http://picr.com/inside

Worked for me.

Mac MacDonald's picture

It re-directs me to the customer site....not the "pro" site.

When I use Scott's link, it takes me to "PICR For Professional Photographers". Sounds like the pro site to me. Maybe you guys are fat-fingering it.

Anonymous's picture

So weird...it just worked for me also. wtf?

the link http://www.picr.com/photographer should be working. Just had the internal team double check it all from our end.

If you do end up on the customer site for some reason, in the bottom navigation links you can click on "I'm a Photographer" to get to the photographer page.

Let's do the math on this business then.

They have 500k left and it will be gone in 3 months.
Operating costs are $167,000 per month.
Their commission is 10-15%, let's say 15%.
To make their monthly operating cost they have to book $1,100,000 of work per month.
That's a lot of work to book in a month.

What's an average job worth? $1000 to $5000? Let's say $2500.
At $2500 they have to book 440 jobs every month. That's 15 jobs per day.
At $1000 they have to book 1100 jobs every month. That's 37 jobs per day.

Ambitious. Good luck.

Scott Hoffman's picture

Nigel's math isn't too bad, other than thinking that the 500K that Vitaliy mentions is our startup "bank" for PICR, which it is not or what our current burn rate is, which is incorrect. If you read all of Vitaliy's posts, you'll find that PICR was an evolution that included "failing fast" with 2 predecessors.

Do we think we can set that level of bookings each day agrigated across multiple cities and photographic specialties? Yep. Actually, his targets are low, but not because we need to race for money to pay the bills. We have, do and will continue to turn away lots of investor money.

The revenue will come, in time, but continuing to refine the marketplace is much more important. Many of the most notable current "start ups", such as AirBNB and Uber, as well as others including Facebook and Twitter for many years after inception, lose money.

As for Mark's comments, we'll be in NZ in about 14-18 months, so he'll have lots of time to keep an eye on us and we invite and host photographers at our offices frequently in case he happens to be near Portland. They get to meet the team and "see behind the curtain", including future features and more (we also usually teach them how to Powerboard while they're here).

There's no motivation for a consumer to reach around PICR to hire a photographer- it doesn't cost them anything to use. The same risk argument was made about Uber and AirBNB and they seem to be doing okay because most people don't feel a compelling need to cheat. Some might, but no successful business was ever built around those who might not use it.

In the meantime, the only real decision any photographer has to make, assuming that they need new clients is: What is a new client worth to me? According to the hundreds of photogs that we've spoken to, 15% is on the low end of typical referral payments.

As PICR continues to add features, that question only changes slightly, to "What is managing my entire back office and all of my marketing worth to me if I only pay anything when new business is brought to me and I can spend more time doing what I love- shooting images?"

If you've signed up, you'll see our updates via email or you can follow any of our social channels for more.

Best Wishes!!

More comments