Reading the Tea Leaves

January 14, 2010 · 4 comments

3-494-91  stock photo of Food and People, Woman drinking tea

What does 2010 hold for photographers? Will the economic recovery lead to a return to healthy profits? Will the abundance of digital media continue to drive up supply and drive down prices? Will newer technologies emerge to further disrupt the business of photography? or to offer startling new opportunities?

Despite all the disruption of the past decade, the pace of change seems to be accelerating. Some things to keep an eye on in 2010:

Google Book Settlement: However this plays out in the courts, there is a tremendous pent-up demand for online access to all books (and other media). The internet is becoming the de facto means of accessing any kind of information or entertainment. Follow law proefessor James Grimmelman’s Laboratorium for up-to-the minute coverage.

Microstock revenues: Industry analysts including Selling Stock’s Jim Pickerell have suggested microstock sales might be declining for top photographers. This would indicate that the market is now so completely oversaturated with images that revenue potential overall is diminished. Perhaps more distributors will toss in the towel.

eBook market heats up: Apple’s soon-to-be-released tablet computer, with full color unlike the Kindle, might possibly reinvigorate the market for feature magazines as well as provide a high-end outlet for photographers willing to develop their own apps.

More crowdsourcing: The trend towards user generated travel imagery, especially for web apps is increasing. Hot new startups like and others promise to take a bite out of the online guidebook market individual photographers are just beginning to explore. Perhaps there’ll be room for both amateur and professional content but expect competition to be strong and revenue slim.

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