Dan Heller's Photography Business Blog Industry analysis from www.danheller.com

The photography world -- the business, the culture, the art, the politics, the technology.

Site Feed

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]

My Photo
Location: Santa Cruz, California, United States
My Books on the
Photography Business

Saturday, April 23, 2005

The "solution looking for a problem" Syndrome

On Apr 23, 10:27am, harrison555@naver.com wrote:
Do you think there is a niche market for the international photos (especially Korean photos) in the USA? In other words, do you think that a nice website with Korean photos with English descriptions will attract some potential customers in the USA? Who is interested in Asian photos? What would be the most appealing topics of Korean photos to the potential customers?

Harrison --

Your question is understandable, and it represents the classic question that all photographers have: "Is there a market for MY photographs?"

The answer is both yes and no. The photo industry is so saturated with images from every aspect of the world, that there is rarely a demand for images that can't be met by some supplier. On the other hand, if that were the case, no one would be in the photo business.

The answer is like that of Love: there's someone for everyone. In this case, any photo has a potential buyer. And, as I've said copiously through my books on the business of photography, it's not about the photos--it's about how you go about the business of marketing and sales.

Most photographers make the classic mistake that I discuss in http://www.danheller.com/biz-sense.html#4.1, where I refer to a friend who shoots art festivals and wants to find buyers for those photos. Because she's excited about these pictures, she feels there's a market, and it's just a matter of finding it. But, it's not about finding a market--it's about already being in the market you want to sell to. That's the only way to create the demand from people who would otherwise not be interested. If you know your industry well enough, you can do that.

The guy who invented the hammer didn't just say, "Hey! This is a cool design--let's see if anyone can find a use for it!" It doesn't work that way. This is what I call "a solution looking for a problem." Most photographers are like this. In your case, you have Korean photos and are hoping to find someone who needs them. Instead of probing around to find buyers, you should instead work from the inside out: What industries need these photos? Find them. What kinds of businesses market to an Asian audience? Find them. If you don't know these answers, you're not working from within any industry that needs photos.

Once inside, you then need to understand their business objectives and articulate a business case for why your photos are useful. And it's not just about "communicating" a business case, as if it were just a matter of wordsmithing creative text to market your photos--you actually have to know this stuff, and your photos have to reflect that knowledge.

Do your photos today reflect some aspect of Korean life, industry or culture that can be useful in some market in the USA? If you know the answer to this, then you should already know the kinds of industries you should target, and you shouldn't be asking me these questions. On the other hand, if you only have a series of good-looking pictures, but they are otherwise random and inconsistent, then anyone looking at them isn't going to find much more value in them than the thousands of other photographers, each of whom are presenting thousands of pictures themselves. Assuming that all you have to do is take technically and creatively good-looking pictures, and someone out there will find a good use for them is another way of saying, "a solution looking for a problem."

Unless and until you understand a target market, you won't get any good, useful information from me or anyone else. Guidance is not going to come from people in the photo industry. It's going to come from discussions with people from other industries that you want to target.

At the end of the day, the photo business is not about photography. It's about understanding business--or, some market segment or industry--and being able to sell widgets (in this case, photos) that help them with their businesses. If you can do that, it doesn't matter what your photos look like. You're ahead of your competition.


Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

<< Home