Luminance: Food for Thought

Luminance 2012 Conference. Photo: © Michael Treola

En Foco was Invited to Luminance 2012, a 2-day conference in New York City organized by Photoshelter, featuring innovators and entrepreneurs who are re-defining the photography industry. The concept of the conference was based on the “Intersection of Business, Technology, Culture and Photography” – an investigation in to how technology is changing everything we’ve known about the art and business of photography.  Each speaker presented a 20-minute TED-style talk on a topic relevant to their area of expertise. 

Here is what En Foco walked away with: 

Sara Friedlander of Christie’s. © Michael J. Treola / PhotoShelter

In the words of the Luminance hosts: “Digital cameras have become ubiquitous, camera phones capture more photos than stand-alone cameras, social networks have become the largest and fastest growing repositories of photos on the Internet. The impact of photography has become more significant than ever before. Photos are social currency. They provide a way to remember, relive, and communicate.”

How do photographers utilize these resources to build their market? The photography world has changed rapidly in the past decade. Sara Friedlander of Christie’s discussed the evolution of the fine art photography market and the impact it is having today.  Jen Bekman founder and CEO of 20×200, discussed the appeal of building a business for yourself and the importance of a secondary market for photographers. 

In Sarah Friedlander’s words, as photography still claims its throne and fights off being the “evil step sister of painting” in the fine art market, here are some tips to take note of as you consider your market:  

  • “If a camera can make art, so can a can opener.” How is your practice unique? 
  • Hype dictates the art market.Where does your work stand within a social context?  Create momentum around your work. It’s value is based on exclusivity, size and trends.
  • Build your value, create a presence that is unique to you and your art.  Market your work appropriately, keep in mind who your primary market is and based on that, build  a secondary market for yourself. Always consider alternative markets and business models to nurture a lasting presence in this ever-changing medium.

As Photography evolves from its traditional roots, moving to multiple platforms and taking on an avid “everyday, anyone” approach, how do photographers establish their relevance and protect their rights?

Craig Peters of Getty Images.
© Michael J. Treola / PhotoShelter

Craig Peters, SVP Business Development of Getty Images, said  that legislation is static, “it doesn’t evolve.” In moving forward he suggested creating innovative business models, “comprehensive platforms that support content owners. Business models that work with the evolving platforms,” which means thinking differently, building efficient technology for the process and continued partnerships. 

Zack Arias.            © Michael J. Treola / PhotoShelter

 As Social Media is becoming a main form of communication, “Minimize the noise” says photographer Zack Arias – create sustainable content and relationships, valuing sustenance and substance.

As the photography industry is growing rapidly and there are shifting concepts of the “role” of a photographer, there is no better time to build a base that is perfectly molded with your mantra as a photographer. This industry is based on our innovation.

A salute to all of the presenters and especially Photoshelter for organizing a diverse event where ideas were innovative, and a new standard for dialogue in our industry was set. To read more about Luminance, click here 

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