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Uber-Style Photo App Snappr Lets You Book Photographers in Real-Time

After landing $10 million in Series A funds, a new app has launched which allows users to hire photographers using an Uber-style system. Initially based in cities and metropolitan areas, a photographer can be booked only hours ahead of when you need them, with some available for hire for as little as $89 each session.

There have been rumors of such apps for a number of years, but it now seems that after guaranteeing the financial backing needed, Snappr is set to go ahead. As per Crunchbase, the company now has a total investment of $13 million. The company is planning to expand further into new cities in which it doesn’t currently operate, and in the future intends to branch into video and virtual tours.

The app currently offers users everything from portrait photographers to real estate shoots.

Speaking of the app to Crunchbase, Snappr CEO Matt Schiller said:

With some of the enterprise clients, we work across hundreds of markets at one time, so there is no way one photographer would get that kind of work alone.

The company is reporting steady growth, with a prediction of between 15% and 20% each month. A total of 12% of US restaurants use the app.

What are your thoughts? Is it a gimmick, or the way forward for the photo industry in the fast-paced lives of those who live in a city?

Lead image by Benjamin Sow via Unsplash.

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35 Comments

Tommy Lyles's picture

Hmm. Curious idea. In slow times, this could be something to do, though and $89 session is quite devalued. I'd set my base at 3-4x that.

A. I. Borj's picture

Incidentally, that's what cab drivers said about Uber and Lyft.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

I dunno. Probably depends how much of the $$$ the photographer gets to keep and how much editing they have to do.

Ryan Cooper's picture

Every couple years some variation of this shows up and every single time the value of photography is devalued ridiculous;y so. $90 for a session + 3 retouched photos is insanely cheap.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Assuming session = 1 hour

So, $90 x 8 hrs = $720 per day = $3,600 per week = $14,400 per month.

Obviously, this is all theoretical. :D Just depends on actual $$$ and hours they give you. Even if their payout rate is $50/hr, so long as hours are plenty, you can still make decent living out of it.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

So, you plan that clients come to you? :)

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Haha, oh, hells no! If one were smart, they'd cluster their appointments close together. :P

Ryan Cooper's picture

There is not a chance that you will be able to do 8 per day. Also you are accounting zero time for maintenance, retouching, editing, culling, travel, billing, finance, sales, customer service, etc. You also aren't subtracting anything for cost of doing business. (gear, insurance, travel, financial services, digital storage, computing equipment, internet, software etc). On top of all that, as you touched on, no way the payout is the full $90, the site is going to take a commission.

If a photographer is able to earn more than $10/hour take home pre-tax I'd be really surprised.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

“billing, finance, sales, customer service, etc” is handled by the company.

They don’t require retouching, just basic edits. But, I think it depends on the genre. On their faq page, “This involves calibrating the colour temperature, exposure, sharpness, contrast, as well as cropping and adjusting other parameters. Snappr does not offer retouching services (removing blemishes, removing objects, etc).”

I read somewhere one guy was doing food photography. He doesn’t do any edits, just uploads the DNGs. So, as far as editing, it could depend on the service.

Attached is their US fee schedule. They take about 20 to 35 percent, depending on the service.

Ryan Cooper's picture

Do you really think the company will just provide a supply of ready and waiting clients for you? Forgive me if I don't hold my breath about an endless stream of clients who show up, on time, perfectly prepared to shoot. You will still have to be involved in the planning and the relationship. Clients will show up late, they will show up unprepared. You will have to invest time interacting with them before and after the shoot. You will have to deal with complaints, feedback, demands. You will have to deal with no-shows, scammers, lateness, unpreparedness. Snappr can't do that for you. You will also have to deal with positive stuff such as selections to edit, relationship building, questions, etc. All of this takes time.

You will also have to convince potential clients to choose you over all the other photographers on Snappr, so yes, sales will be thing. Snappr is a marketing platform at its core, it doesn't replace the need for individual photographers to sell their service.

By finance, I meant your business finances. You aren't an employee of this website. You are a private contractor who is operating your own business. Thus you still are responsible for managing your own finances, keeping your books balanced, paying taxes, paying bills, etc. All those things take time out of your workday. Snappr just provides marketing services and a billing platform for you.

I will grant you the billing bit, perhaps Snappr handles all that seamlessly.

I stick to what I said. If you can do more than $10/hour after accounting for all the other aspects of doing business and deducting the cost of doing business I would be really impressed.

Assuming you can get up to 25% shooting in lets say a 60 hour week. (and this is actually a generous ratio based on industry trends) At the above rates, you bring in net revenue of $1,068 per week. That's $17.80/hour and $55k per year before accounting for all the aforementioned expenses and presumes you can work 60 hours per week, every week all year. No getting sick. No vacations. No holidays. A relentless 1.5x full-time job all year.

If you are lean on your expenses. No commercial location, only cheap gear, cheap insurance, no travel, no vehicle, walk to and from shoots, crappy computer, etc. You may be able to get away with $10k in expenses per year. That brings you down to $45k pre-tax to work an arduous, stressful, 3000+ hour per year job. And all of that assumes Snappr can keep a consistent flow of customers coming in.

Snappr is commodifying photography just like sites keep trying to do every couple years but just like the others, it will fail, because the pay is so low that photographers simply can't survive on it but also because I promise, there is no way Snappr will have a volume of customers to keep every photographer busy.

I don't mean to make this a big debate, but I think it is important for new photographers, when they see something like this and think: "Wow I can make $90/hour doing that?", that it is a giant lie. There are no free rides and this certainly isn't one.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

--- “Do you really think the company will just provide a supply of ready and waiting clients for you.”

As I’ve alluded to several times, this was one of my “depends” conditions.

--- “You will also have to convince potential clients to choose you over all the other photographers on Snappr, so yes, sales will be thing.”

That’s not how it works there. The clients are given a list a photographers to choose from. They can’t contact the photographer directly. Once they have selected and paid, the photographer would contact them for shoot details.

--- “If you are lean on your expenses. No commercial location, only cheap gear, cheap insurance, no travel, no vehicle, walk to and from shoots, crappy computer, etc. You may be able to get away with $10k in expenses per year.”

This makes absolutely no sense. You would already have most of these things (gear, vehicle, computers, etc). This is the kind of fib you add in the line items to boost your rates. You are not going to be spending no 10K per year.

--- “I stick to what I said. If you can do more than $10/hour after accounting for all the other aspects of doing business and deducting the cost of doing business I would be really impressed.”

I still think you’re overcomplicating it based on the previous point. You’re adding unrealistic recurring expenses.

Yes, I get it. We all want that grandeur baller status of consistently making $2500, $5K, $10K+ per gig. Let’s be honest, if it were that simple, everybody would be doing it.

Ryan Cooper's picture

There is a big difference between $2500 per gig and $70 per gig.

Whether you own the gear already or not isn't relevant, it is still a cost of doing business that you amortize the cost of over its lifetime. All that gear wears out and needs to be fixed or replaced, especially when used frequently. I would consider $10k extremely conservative. This is business 101. Its not a "fib you add in the line items to boost your rates". If you aren't bringing in revenue in excess of your cost of doing business with enough margin to pay yourself after, you aren't running a viable business. (Though, I think this concept is very much a mystery to too many photographers)

I still think $10k is really really optimistic. When I was shooting professionally with no commercial space and mostly mid to low-tier gear my annual cost of doing business was in the $25k range and I was running extremely lean. Just mandatory insurance alone was about $450 per month. (liability, equipment, personal injury, commercial automotive). Fuel also adds up very quickly if you are travelling around meeting clients. I could go dig up my old bookkeeping for specific numbers on everything, but it just isn't worth the effort for a comment thread.

I never said photography is easy or that it should be. But commodifying the work to the point that it is nearly worthless is not a recipe for a sustainable business either. If you want to work insane hours for pennies, then all the power to you, it is a free market and you are entitled to do that.

My goal here is just that people understand what this is and how little it actually pays but yes, assuming Snappr can provide you with enough clients, could earn a livable income. It would just be an income comparable to what you would earn flipping burgers at McDonald's for the same amount of time.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

--- "There is a big difference between $2500 per gig and $70 per gig."

You are correct, and it goes both ways. It just depends. If you get a $2500 gig, but, it's the only one you get for a month or two, it's going to be far less than a $70 gig at 4 hours a day. Definitely earning more than flipping burgers at McDonald's.

Les Sucettes's picture

Minus Travel, Fees, Tax, File Management / Retouching Time, Admin, Marketing ........

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Uber-like app gives you a chance to play lottery with your visuals for $89 only.

I wish the guys to have fun burning through these $10m and don’t be too sad when they file for bankruptcy in couple of years. It happened before, it will happen this time.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

KodakIt did the same, RIP.

Marc Perino's picture

I doubt that this is a good progression. You can see what the gig economy has done to workers worldwide. That is the reason why at least here in Germany Uber had difficulties to get a foot in the door with their driving app because it wanted to replace taxi cabs.

zave smith's picture

I cannot fathom why anyone would invest in a company like this. I have seen at least a dozen companies, a variation on the same theme, come and go over since the dot-com boom of the late 1990s. They don't work. The market just does not sustain this type of platform. Those investors can kiss their money good-bye and any photographer who works for these companies will also lose their shirt. The cost of doing business just cannot sustain these rates. Currently, Oculus is also trying this in the U.S. market. Oculus is offering restaurant shoots for 60 bucks a pop. Un-fucking believable and not sustaining.

Do not worry about its impact on photography since it will not last.

When will they ever learn....
www.zavesmith.com

Alexander Petrenko's picture

In Europe it is 60 Euro, 10 shots, 1-2 hero shots, 1 hour.

Nicholas Pagan's picture

I spent 2019 working as a photographer for this app and a small part of 2020. I actually got covid from the last shoot i did for them in march. Not only is the photographer cut not enough, but you aren't allowed to use the photos in your portfolio, and if they find out that a customer goes around the system to try to book you directly, they fine you and kick you out of the program. It's written in the contract that they make you sign.

Jacques Cornell's picture

Is this Work For Hire, then? No thanks.

Tony Clark's picture

The race to the bottom is swift, who can pay their bills on such a low rate? People have asked me about these services and all I see is a minimum wage gig at best. Take a look at the rates, then consider the time driving, shooting, processing images, uploading and divid by the total time invested and that doesn't include the investment in your equipment. How do their rates compare to your usual quotes? They also do not consider the value of the images, is it a Wedding, Marketing, Advertising or just a simple portrait for personal use? As I said, the race to the bottom is swift.

Jacques Cornell's picture

Requires a "DSLR camera". So, a Rebel 6Ti is OK, but an a7RIV is not???
P.S.: In the application where you specify your camera, the newest Sony listed is an a7R II. Um, okaaaaaaaay.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

It's on there. Also, if it's not on the list, you can create an option.

Jacques Cornell's picture

I could not get the drop-down to reveal this option. Nor could I get it to offer Sony's 85/1.8 or 24-105/4 lenses. Nor could I see any way to create a custom entry.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Just start typing in the box, the option will eventually appear.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

On a PC (Firefox, Chrome) and MacBook (Chrome) is working.

Are you using Safari? I'm able to duplicate the issue with it. One way I can the Create Option to show up is using something like "sony 24-105/f4 lens". Basically just add something at the end.

Jacques Cornell's picture

Yes, Safari, current version.

Dan Marchant's picture

So another Kodakit (and the other similar services). Lordy investors are stupid. Just put the words "Uber of.... in your presentation and the cash rolls in. But creative services aren't like taxi driving.

They will burn through the money and go the way of Kodakit.... or else pivot to being the Uber of something else.

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