$10 Photoshoots? Ourspot: A Place to Hire Amateur Photographers

$10 Photoshoots? Ourspot: A Place to Hire Amateur Photographers

With the current state of the photography business flooded by part-time professionals, Ourspot (or something like it) was ultimately inevitable. The website, which launches in San Francisco today (New York and Los Angels coming soon), is an online marketplace where anyone can hire an amateur photographer for as little as free to as much as a few hundred bucks.

Photographers are able to upload a "portfolio" for potential "clients" to browse. Those "clients" can pay whatever they like. The site suggests $10 for "fun" shoots, $25 for a "standard" shoot and $100 or more for something "custom." Ourspot takes a 8%. The site's founder, Sam Yam (yes, his real name), has said he is not trying to "cannibalize the market" for higher-end jobs like weddings. Good luck with that, Sam Yam. My personal favorite detail the tagline on their front page, "Be a Photographer." It's now apparently that easy.

What do you think?

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"You get what you pay for" in this low-ball market.  If clients are
"price sensitive,"  they're going to be very demanding and nickel and
dime you as a photographer.      Because the market is saturated, what's
the best way to make money?  Let's make money from all those amateur
photographers who have cameras.   Any photographers (amateur or pro) you
have to account your gear expenses, hard drive space, post processing
time, electricity, etc.  Take all this into account and you're going to
charge $5, $10, $20???   Charging low amount is not a
sustainable business model in the long run.   You are better off taking
photography business courses from PPA, WPPI or some of the established
photographers workshops who will show you how to properly price your work and not
"low-ball" yourself. This will eliminate the middleman.  I highly recommend joining your local professional
photography groups as they have well known guest-speakers who speak
about the business aspect of photography.

nick giron's picture

The best way to lower industry pricing is by introducing a low price point.
Sam, your "median price" will be the balancing point of pricing elasticity. You'll be hard pressed to get above that price.
If creative fees run at $200, $300, $500. Most people will consider $300 reasonable and accept it (It being the middle price, not the highest or the lowest)

If they run at $10, $50, $75, $200. The $50-$75 photographers will get the gigs and if anyone else wants the work that's where they would have to price.

I didn't think anything could lowball Craigslist.

10$ for a shoot ... it costs me more than that to go out of the house to head to a shoot never mind make a profit. How can this POSSIBLY work?

10$ for a 1 hour shoot ... let;s say 3 hours work total. 
10$ * 0.08 = 80 cents.
10 - .80 = 9.20$
9.20 / 3 = 3.06 an hour.

And we haven;t looked at costs for the shoot (travel, wear and tear, printing contracts and model releases ...) how can this possibly work? Unless this is 10$ sitting fee and then like 100$ for a 4X6?

You're only seeing things from your perspective.  Not everyone shoots to make money, or even recoup costs.  There are people who simply enjoy shooting and are willing to shell out money to do so.  Shocking!

Some people pay big money to fly somewhere and play golf.  You could make a case and show the math for how much that chump is losing.

So the $10 one of these photographers charges can cover the cost of parking, let's say, and they get a lovely afternoon shooting people.  Otherwise their gear simply sits in the basement collecting dust.

Enough of this elitist oh-you're-not-a-real-pro-why-are-you-killing-my-industry mentality already.

No way, Kev!
If you love to shoot, go out and shoot. Like portrait shooting? Go shoot your boy/girlfriend, parents, children, friends, just for the love of doing it. They gladly pay some beers and have an amazing evening together talking about the good time you had shooting. Frame right, shoot jpg and you have plenty of pics to give. This is worth a lot more than 10,20,50,100$.

Let's make that a rule; if you're not a professional photographer, then you are limited as to who you can photograph.

(Good luck with that, given that one common rule of photography is to Break all the Rules.)

Kev, let's ignore the whole not making a profit thing ... the moment these people charge for their service they enter into the wonderful world of client / vendor relations and all the LEGAL issues that surround that type of relationship ... things like liability, contractual obligations, acceptable standards of service ... it won't matter to a judge that a couple paid 10$ for a shoot if the couple was physically injured during the shoot. The photographer accepted money in exchange for services rendered? He's a vendor and as such liable but at these rates he won;t have professional liability, he won;t have backup gear, he won;'t have gear insurance, he won't have properly vetted contracts and releases ...

Imagine being one of these photographers, accepting a shoot at 20$ and then having to pay someones medical expenses out of pocket due to a lack of PROFESSIONAL liability insurance.

This is a REALLY bad idea.

Your analogy doesn't really apply here. Guys who fly around to play golf can't just go and enter the PGA Tour, and drive down endorsement pay from sponsors all because they can afford to go to Augusta National with a nice set of clubs they bought from the pawn shop. But any person off the street with a working knowledge of cameras, and the drive to market and sell can do just that in the photographer market. Think of this more like the urban model scene. When only a few women had the body worth paying for, rates were sky-high to get those few in a video or endorsement deal. As the market became saturated with more and more girls willing to do more and accept less money, all prices were driven down, and the more sought after girls were pushed to diversify their skillset or accept the lower wages.

Now, if people use it as a stepping stone to building portfolios, that's a different story altogether. But this is not a real argument for the practicing professionals; it's the middle class of photographers that will take the brunt of this. Crowdsourcing has yet to strengthen any industry, and regardless of what people think, it does not educate people as to what artisan things should cost; it helps to reinforce the devaluation of the craft. 

I agree, mine was not the best analogy.  I'm sure you can come up with a better one.  The simple point I was trying to make, in response to Lefebvre, is that sometimes people will pay money/lose money to do something they enjoy.  I hate golf, btw.

Libby Stack's picture

And before the "clients come to the shoot, they'll go to the Barber College for haircuts. 

 Actually that is a pretty good analogy. They go for the cheapest option simply because it is cheapest. Money is their only concern, which is fair enough. But they don't actually care about the outcome.

For lack of a better term, some people have no taste. And the truth is, I don't want those people as my client.

Jorge Azpiri's picture

Owning a semi-pro camera has never been easier. (Trend #1  high-tech more accessible than ever.) On the other hand, office jobs (9 to 5) are scarce due to the economy and again trend #1, making people question the risk involved in setting their own gig as photographers. (Trend #2) Further more, social media (read: larger facebook photographs, flickr, instagram) paired with cheap cameras have fuelled the interest for photography of many many more people than ever before. (Trend #3) and finally, e-learning is now a reality and the #4 mega trend. So, pro photographers are getting it... TEACHING is the real future business (or at least an important part of) for photographers. That's what lynda.com, Scott Kelby, Peter Hurley, Joe McNally, Fstoppers, and many more photographers around the globe have already figured out. Stop complaining, and start teaching. Embrace change. 

 Yeah, there was a time when the separation between an amateur and pro was pretty simple: Equipment, Education, Resources (darkroom, studio, etc.).

Now, the equipment is cheaper and better, you can be self taught through books and the internet, and $1500 will get you a darkroom in a box (that will do more than you could ever do before). So the industry is in upheaval trying to find new, less tangible ways to differentiate amateur and pro.

This is irrelevant to established pros, but it can be a double-edged sword for emerging photographers. For people struggling to build a portfolio, who approach this as a great opportunity to practice working with clients, making contracts, and completing jobs, this could be a great stepping-stone to success. Or, it could be a place where all the wannabes go to die, leaving the high end of the market for the pros to fight over.

I'd just be worried about what it does to the family portrait photographers.

Уже несколько месяцев,я думал над таким сайтом, но кто-то уже его сделал!)
Этот сайт поможет людям найти лучшего фотографа за свою цену в своем городе!

godspeed843's picture

Adapt People, Adapt. You should only be worried if the $10 work is better than yours.

I'm not worried for myself. I'm wondering how this can work (it can;t) and I'm worried about the risk this is placing these amateurs in. They have no understanding of the legalities of client / vendor relationships. At the rates they are charging, they won;t be able to afford backup gear, professional liability, legal fees ...

This is a REALLY bad idea.

This is crazy...because one smart-ass wanna earn some quick bucks from the photographer wanna-be....he kills off all established photographers. Sam Yam, you just made yourself famous among all photographers! Kudos to that and keep tearing the industries apart! You da man!

This is no different than what 99 designs does for graphic design.  Quite note there is that their prices started out VERY low like this companies, and as its caught on and demand surged prices have climbed about 5X.  Wouldn't surprise me if this worked out the same before a minimum price would be a few hundred bucks.

What about "I think that sounds like fearful, hatin` shit!"  ?
 When I discovered Fstoppers about good a year ago, I "liked" it because most of all the articles and posts were interesting or informative. In the last months all got more and more trival, a lot stupid articles like this one, "what do you think about bla", three new canon objectives every day, and some mockery about how everone nowadays seems to think he`s a photographer.  Grow up. You dont have to sell your work for 10S. For some, this is a good opportunity to start their work, to get exercise, or to stay away from internet porn.
 By the way, I can not see any harm if everyone starts daddling in photography. We are talking about people getting involved into art and DOING something, instead of watching telly or PS3. How would this be wrong?

All I have to say is you get what you pay for!

Owning a camera doesn't make you a photographer any more than owning pots and pans make you a chef.

great another way of devaluing photography. yes some will tell the difference from good professionals and rubbish ones but at the end of the day most ordinary folk wont and will just look at price!

Is this taking business away from pro photographers or is it allowing people to work for themselves and not at Picture Me! Sears, JC Penney and any number of other crap portrait studios that charge roughly the same price? If anything this will steal business from them because people will gravitate towards hiring a person instead of a company. 

why give this site 8% when you can post your $10 shoots for free on Craigslist?? 

Every time there is a new, CHEAP way to steal business from pros, it does affect the pros. Don't lie to yourself. The more photographers there are, the lower the wages. It may not affect photographers who works for agencies, but it affects the majority of us making a living without the benefit of being known or famous and working for agencies. There are a very small % of photographers working for agencies, but a lot of us are still making a living at this. But every year it gets harder. Like it or not, the consumers get used to bad photography and a lot of them don't see much difference between a very good shot and an ok shot, but they see the difference between $10.00 and $1,000.00!!!

Fiverr for photographers. Great!

I thought FStoppers was pretty cool until I read this.  What are you smoking?  This is absolutely absurd.  This idea will only benefit people who don't recognize a great photo when they see one and those "so-called photographers" that neither recognize one let alone know how to produce one.  The people who call themselves pro photographers and pawn themselves off on unwitting "clients," make me want to puke.  For those trying to learn, practice on the dog, your sister or anyone else you can find but don't call yourself a pro and charge people to shoot them. 

Pretty frustrating.  What do you propose we can do to stop these "so-called photographers"?

We've all heard the complaints about them, nothing new about your post, but what are the solutions?  Criticizing them on sites like FStoppers does not seem to be working, but only serving to make one look like a bitter old-school photographer unwilling to change with the times.

George Gutenberg's picture

Kevin, I'm one of those "old-school photographer" who opened my first studio in 1977. I'm not bitter at all, but deeply concerned about what is happening to the business. I certainly don't see this as "being unwilling to change with the times". To me, it's about the fact that this further devalues the work of photographers in general.

We currently live in a society where much is now "good enough", fewer and fewer people value excellence as their expectation levels are constantly lowered.

All a site like Sam Yam's is doing, is contributing to establishing that the new normal is that photography should now cost $10-50.

Sure Sam is "just an entrepreneur", but he is also directly contributing by continuing the downward spiral that our industry has experienced over the past 10 years. Make no mistake about it, Sam is trying to make money off the back of working photographers. He couldn't care less about what it does to working photographers, it's all about how quickly he can build traffic an revenue for his site and then sell it, and move onto another industry to cannibalize. It may not affect you today, but it will by lowering the standard once again. 

Unwilling to change with the times? No. This is much like all the jobs that got outsourced in the 80's and 90's because people found that they could buy a Korean car for half the price of an American made one.

So the race to the bottom continues!

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