The other night, I stumbled upon a post on one of the photography groups I follow on Facebook, that discussed an Uber-like photography service called ClapperX. Marketing itself as the “Uber for Videographers & Photographers,” ClapperX seeks to match clients with photo and video professionals.
While not quite like Uber’s on-demand service, ClapperX makes it easy for clients to hire photographers and videographers on-the-fly. I saw pricing as low as $25 an hour for “enthusiastic” event videography.
ClapperX is different from Thumbtack and other request services, in that prices are visible to all parties. It makes it easy to compete against other professionals.
But are services like ClapperX really the future?
Is there a market for quick on-demand services?
To put it simply, yes. The other day I got a call from an ongoing client of mine asking if I could shoot an event two days later. And I gladly accepted the assignment.
Whether it’s a last-minute assignment, filling in for another creative professional who is sick or has a conflict, or hiring a second shooter, there is a market for on-demand services. And when it comes to price, the low baller seems to win when playing this game (yes, I even saw wedding photography advertised at $40 an hour).
That being said, just because you market yourself as an on-demand photographer doesn’t mean you have to cut your prices significantly. Make yourself available to your current clients, answer e-mails and return voicemails quickly, and make sure their needs are met in every way you can.
And while you might get a call about an event to photograph two days from now, that doesn’t mean that you’ll become the next “Uber photographer,” who gets an alert and instantly goes to a photoshoot. I just don’t see that level of service (let alone demand) happening any time soon.
Is it worth it to invest time and energy into these services?
While this is ultimately a question you have to answer, on-demand services like ClapperX are great ways to get quick, reliable work. If you’re struggling to get clients, or if you’re in an off-season, this might be something you could consider. That’s not to say it’s the answer to everything — quite the contrary — but it might be a good starting point for some professionals.
But there are a few things to be wary about with these services. First, in order to be successful early on, you probably have to lower your prices. This will get you reviews and a client list you can post to your profile. Once you show you’re “legit,” you can raise those prices.
Second, you’ll most likely experience two types of clients with these services — the very demanding client who knows what he/she wants, and the client who just wants you to run the show. Both can be difficult to deal with, as you’re either dealing with a nit-picky client who has a shot list and watches your every move, or you’re working with a client who simply doesn’t care. This is a problem because if it’s the nit-picky client, your chances of being hired again go down (even if you do a great job…they’ll find something they don’t like). And if it’s the client who doesn’t care, they might care when they get back to the office — and blame you for not capturing their “vision.”
Is it the future?
No. Far from it. But there will always be a demand for quick, cheap services — no matter what field you’re in. It’s in your best interest to spend time on marketing yourself to clients you want to work with, rather than those that will pay you once and be done.
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