Tricia Scott of Merge Left Reps sent me an email recently about a new cooking app called Matt’s Pantry that was shot by one of her photographers, Matthew Furman. What caught my attention was that the agency produced the app. I’ve talked with many photographers recently about providing finished products to clients where photography and video are only components of what’s being delivered. This is along those lines, so I asked Tricia a few questions to find out what she was up to.
Rob: Why did you decide to produce this yourself?
Tricia: I wanted to own the content and it was a bit of an experiment. I feel like the business has gotten so out of control, everyone is complaining about it but not doing anything. I wanted some control over my destiny. The photography industry is shrinking, fees are shrinking and usage is being squeezed. Why not own the content and the actual app itself.
Shouldn’t you go looking for someone producing a cookbook app to hire your photographers?
I love producing work for our clients, but to me, the future of photography is uncertain. I hired a developer and kept the rights to the wireframes, so I can now reach out to others who might have a need for this type of app, and create it for them. We had a meeting recently with a medium size book publisher that we’ve shot for before and they are interested in the app because for them, it’s an unknown still and I’ve done all the legwork.
Do you think this could be a real revenu stream?
The production costs and time of a cookbook app are high, but Matt Furman shot it, the chef brought the recipes to the table and I brought the money. We will all get proceeds and everyone is happy. The key to making money with an app is in the marketing and that is where you really have to put a ton of time. As a photo agent, I don’t have that time, and need to delegate that responsibility.
It was really a great project for Matt, since he isn’t a food photographer, but of course did a beautiful job. He and the chef grew up together – and we all had lunch one day. I left there thinking I wanted to do an app with them, and here we are – it’s done. I think pigeonholing photographers is in the nature of the business but it was great to see him out of his comfort zone and pushing himself to do something he wouldn’t normally do.
What about producing apps for clients, is that something you see happening?
I have more ideas for apps cooking (no pun intended) – I have a good relationship with Soho Interactive – they developed it, who I met through an art director client, Todd Lynch.