Like thousands of others, I received an email last week from Kodakit asking me to sign up. “Get more photography shoots!” it promised, but what’s the truth behind this Uber-like company, and is it worth your time?
Kodakit works as an agency, connecting companies who require images to photographers who can deliver a shoot. As a photographer, you sign up and when Kodakit has a job to which it thinks you are suited in terms of both your skills and location, it offers you the work. According to its “About” page, Kodakit’s ability to offer a quick turnaround lends itself well to travel, food, product, and real-estate markets, with photographers often available at short notice to provide their services. Its comparison to Uber is through its use of the so-called gig economy and the “always on” mode of self-employed work.
Early feedback has been mixed, especially as rates of pay are reported to be particularly low. Some are more critical of the model, suggesting that if stock imagery doesn’t meet a particular need, companies would be better off finding a photographer through reputation, personal connections and recommendations rather than trying to source images through an agency that is inevitably going to take a healthy percentage. Furthermore, as a middleman, Kodakit would have very little knowledge of the photographer that they are sending out on a shoot beyond a couple of images that, though unlikely, could easily have been lifted from Unsplash.
Intrigued, I downloaded the app and signed up. The process was relatively straightforward, filling out a few personal details and uploading some samples of my work. I could choose my genres of photography (for example, lifestyle, food, portraits) and after a day or two, I was told that my profile had been approved. Apparently, I will be notified of opportunities when they have gigs in my city. (Given that I live in a forest, I am not holding my breath.)
Goodbye Copyright, Hello Legal Implications
By pure coincidence, I then encountered this article that describes how the terms and conditions mean that doing work for Kodakit requires giving up all of my copyright to the extent that I can’t use the imagery to promote myself or even claim to have shot the images that are delivered to Kodakit’s client. Furthermore, as I understand it, there is an indemnification clause that means that as a photographer, I would be liable for any legal proceedings made in relation to that image’s usage. For example, if a model objects to how an image is used or a company has complaints over intellectual property such as a trademark, even though Kodakit arranged the shoot and holds the rights to the images, as the photographer I would be liable.
The Gig Economy
Kodakit is clearly attempting to take advantage of the fact that photographers have time and equipment sitting idle that, should the situation arise, can quickly be used to generate a small income. Uber works on the same principle: if you have a car, why not make a bit of extra money on the side, relying on a technological middleman to handle the administrative side of things. The difference with photography is that, while food photography might seem to some like you can just turn up at a restaurant, order something pretty and take a quick snap with your DSLR, there’s actually much more time and skill involved, especially when compared to driving a taxi. There's also a sense that, in the race to the bottom seen with the likes of Unsplash where photographers are ready to provide their work for free, Kodakit is exploiting a growing trend where those new or struggling will happily undercut other photographers even if it means undermining the industry more broadly.
Tell Us Your Experience
I’m interested to know if photographers in the Fstoppers community have worked for Kodakit and if they thought it worthwhile. If that’s you, please leave a comment below or contact me privately through my Fstoppers inbox (head to my profile and click on “Private Message” on the right-hand side). Was the pay reasonable? Was the work convenient? Do you have any concerns about the copyright transfer or implications regarding your legal liability? Will you continue to work for them?