Kodak began an effort last spring to launch a service whose aim was to bring photographers and those who need their services together, all whilst handling the minutiae the typical artist would rather do without. It sounded brilliant, if familiar, but the service, Kodakit, launched in Singapore and took ages to get anywhere else and we sort of forgot about it. How many times have we heard of these services only to have them vanish? Picr, comes to mind. But Kodak isn’t Picr, it’s Kodak, and now Kodakit is to be found all over the globe. You can go here to check it out and sign up, but hang on, give me a moment to explain why I wouldn’t.
As the landscape of business and commerce change, so too must the photographer. Some seem to think that as a professional species we’re dying, failing to adapt and evolve at the rate of change, and looking at the headlines it’s not hard to see where they’re coming from. For years now the ‘staff photographer’ has become more and more scarce, an endangered perhaps, and the democratization that the internet brings has certainly helped to close the gap between the professional and the part time. But make no mistake, the work is still there, arguably more in volume than ever, it’s just the competition is fierce and the playing field is much more level, and varied. So it’s unsurprising then that a system that aims to be the middle man and matchmaker to parties that want what the other’s got should arise and do well. But from what I can see, Kodakit doesn’t have your best intentions in mind.
“transform the photography market with an on-demand service that will change the way [clients] and photographers can connect”
Signing up is relatively simple, you just go make a profile, select your city, input pertinent details and sample photos, you can set rates, and in two minutes Bob’s your uncle. But if you care to read the terms and conditions (which, by the way, are linked wrong on their page and you have to scan a bit for them), and you begin to poke around a bit what you might find is that it’s commoditized our craft and not in a good way – well, not for us anyway.
If you get over the initial excitement, you then pick up cues that something’s a bit off right from the ‘marketing material’ which features lines lines like, “Earn more money, be your own boss, get paid fast, shoot when you want.” The cynic inside is just waiting for the nice newly-retired couple from Kentucky to appear with a copy of their cheque in front of a whiteboard where they’ll proceed to draw me a diagram of how it works framed in a triangle. But alas, it’s not quite like that, though there were some testimonials.
So what’s the concern? Well, right out the gate you must give up ownership and copyright of your works created or purposed for a job taken though the service.
“By submitting Your Materials on the Platform or through the Services, you hereby grant us an irrevocable, perpetual, unrestricted, transferable, fully-paid, royalty-free, and worldwide license to use, reproduce, broadcast, modify, adapt, translate, transmit, sell, store, privately and publicly display, privately and publicly perform, create derivative works based upon, distribute, and promote Your Materials through all or any portion of the Platform or Service, including without limitation, such other products or services as we may designate in any medium now known or hereafter devised, for editorial, commercial, promotional and all other purposes. You waive any right to inspect or approve uses of Your Material you submit or to be compensated for any such uses. We are under no obligation to give credit or pay any consideration to you for Your Materials. You agree that we own all right, title, and interest in any compilation, collective work or other derivative work created by us using or incorporating Your Materials.”
That’s a deal breaker for some right there as you’ll no longer keep any of your work, possibly even for marketing. Also, as of this writing, perhaps because it was birthed there, Kodakit and those who engage in its services are held to Singapore’s copyright laws. That’s a bit odd, because most of us hardly understand our own local laws much less those of another country. That said, given the fact you sign up and agree to give up ownership of your work anyway that may be of little consequence.
Then there’s Kodakit’s fee, which is 20% of the overall take. Depending on the circumstance, working photographers know that while it will vary wildly, for some that’s your profit margin right there. So how do you recoup those costs? Kodak’s got a suggestion, and that’s to ‘Keep this is mind when you are determining the price you want to charge for a photo package!” Okay, fair enough, but again depending on your genre or how your business has been operating this may bring up a conflict.
Now, depending on your business and pricing structure maybe this makes sense for you. After all, unlike Picr, which no client ever heard of, the name Kodak is known far and wide. So maybe you will get so much in volume that it is, in fact, a good move. And if you’re a business looking for photographers then I think this leans in your favor, though how much vetting of the photographer’s quality there is I’m not sure of. This is just a PSA essentially, and my opinion is, for most of the working photographic world, this isn’t the solution you’ve been waiting for. What we need is a Tinder of sorts for photographers and clients where the first image is a collage of works that entice a potential client to click through and then message y… wait, that’s Instagram.
You can learn more about Kodakit here.