Good professional photographers trade on reputation and personal relationships built up with clients over years. There are plenty of them about, but seldom is it easy for events planners to get immediate access to a talented bank of snappers who can do justice to a conference held in a dimly lit auditorium; in fact, it can be a struggle to find the kind of portfolios that might make an event really stand out.
Step forward Alex Hewitt, former deputy picture editor of the Scotsman, who has launched a service aimed at showcasing the talents of a community of professional photographers, who have a flair for brightening up even the dreariest of corporate meeting rooms.
Hewitt, who has sourced financial backing from Innovate UK and from private Edinburgh investors Apollo – as well as throwing a not inconsiderable amount of his Johnston Press redundancy money into the project – explains: “We’ve got 450 photographers on board so far, but we want to get to the point where we’ve got enough photographers for the customers, and enough customers for the photographers. We’re creating a market.”
The website – which takes a small service fee for every booking made – has some clever functionality, too, and allows the photographers and clients’ calendars to be synced together, avoiding unnecessary third party communication. Users can browse according to their needs, so can look up photographers by location and skill sets such as events. The aim will be to build that out further, based on a searchable tree, tagging structure, which will enable users to drill down further into specialisms.
“We’re hoping to give photographers a way to connect to customers in a way which is relevant to their skill sets. We’ve had a really positive reaction so far.” Hewitt, who is based at Edinburgh’s tech hub CodeBase, concedes there has also been some “tension” among photographers who view the service as competition. “It is a disruptive business model, there’s no doubt about that,” he says. “But the site can help establish which client base work is suitable for them, also. It’s a two-way street. And the recommendation aspects of the site are really important – they allow people to share knowledge of talent outside of their networks; so it can create new opportunities for photographers and simplify an event planner’s work.”