Photographer iPhone Marketing Apps- Cutting Edge Promotion or Money Hole With A Fresh Coat of Paint?

- - Promos, The Future

I’m not surprised that the king of promotions (Monte Isom) was the first to come out with an iPhone app as a marketing piece (here). It usually pays to be the first so I’m sure it worked for him in the way that a well made mailer might and as a method for cutting through the email clutter it must have been solid gold.

Not long after Monte’s came out I saw another from Caesar Lima (here).

According to this story on the WSJ Blogs (here), companies like Net Solutions in Chandigarh, Inda build apps for clients at $3,000 to $15,000 a pop.

It will be interesting to see where this ends up. I can certainly see an app from someone like Howard Bernstein being quite valuable but how many individual photographer apps can you download before your phone is clogged.

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There Are 35 Comments On This Article.

  1. I think Chase Jarvis has already taken this to a new level with his Best Camera app/web site ecosystem. The app is useful, viral and likely to remain installed on your phone (and used) long after the portfolio apps have been deleted. And it’s a paid app (which is another subtle reason to keep it on your phone).

    Of course not everyone has the time/skills/resources to pull something like this off, and his target audience is largely photographers, not photo editors, (but I’d be hard pressed to find a PE who’s not also a photographer at some level), but the marketing of the Chase Jarvis brand is strong (I think of him every time I see the app – not just when I use it).

    Photographers who are thinking of doing something like this should consider how they can go beyond creating just a portfolio app, and build something useful and/or fun into it as well.

      • @A Photo Editor,

        Perhaps. And maybe Monte is overestimating how much they want city tips for Buenos Aires. :)

        Not trying to pick a fight, but there is a much larger audience than PEs for these apps (and the photographer’s images, for that matter).

        • @Mark Newhouse,
          Sure, of course if you are in the business of selling cameras, lights, DVD’s and stuff to amateur photogs like Chase, Hobby, et al. then by all means create apps to sell them as well. I fail to see how any of this attracts PE’s or AB’s. Not trying to pick a fight either but iPhone photos are crap.

          • @A Photo Editor,

            Yes, for PEs and ABs, iPhone photos are crap (yet Chase managed to get a book of them published – by an actual publisher, even).

            However, the question you posed was cutting edge marketing vs. freshly painted money hole.

            If you’re limiting your audience to PEs and ABs, I guess it remains to be seen (though I’d tend to the latter as time goes by).

            If you open the audience to all iPhone/iPod Touch owners, I think you have to do something to stand out. Maybe (probably?) not what Chase did, but something (e.g. Monte’s City Tips).

            Even so, most will tend to the latter – Chase already had a fan & client base that loves him (and some that don’t). He also had the resources/connections to pull off an app like Best Camera.

            Interesting discussion…

    • Branching Out

      @Mark Newhouse,

      Your post also opens up a new conversation: Are some photographers positioning themselves in the marketplace to sell stuff to the masses of new digital photography buffs, or are they positioning themselves to actually secure jobs shooting photographs? It’s an interesting topic to take apart. Maybe there IS an upside to every Tom, Dick, and Mary owning a 5D; they’re your new target audience.

    • @Mark Newhouse, I agree. The usefulness of the app will keep it and the branding in people’s brains for awhile. On the other hand apps that just show photos from one photographer will probably be quickly forgotten.

      There is a large amount of “5 minutes of fame” going on in the App store. Creating something that can survive that is the challenge. These photographers are too late to the game. Maybe when the store was new and a novelty, but as people start to expect useful apps and not just trinkets no one will notice promo apps.

    • @Mark Newhouse,

      “Best Camera app” is certainly becoming well known for being (world-renowned) *well known*….

      much like the (let’s talk about me) guy behind it….

      [yawn]

      • @Bob,

        Whatever your opinion is of Chase, he *is* being talked about (mostly in a positive way), and he is giving back to the community while pushing things in many directions.

        So your comment kind of supports my point (see viral above)…

  2. I could see a few agents developing an iPhone app to showcase their photographers and push news and new content to art buyers and art directors.

    Also, source books could develop an iPhone app with a free redemption code when you buy a physical copy. Or they could create a shell of an iPhone app that is free and then for a little bit of money one could buy each update to the book.

  3. These apps seem like a quick money making scheme. Though I could see a photo proofing app being somewhat valuable, but not worth much individually. It would have to become a standard. The problem with that though is cellular networks aren’t fast enough yet to support the image data. Similar to what we experienced with the Internet until recently, when broadband became the norm. And the photos would be small, so a slick zoom feature would make or break the idea.

    Digital Fusion is probably already on such a delivery though. They seem to be the technology pushers for that kind of thing.

  4. Seems like a terribly short-sighted gimmick.

    You can do all the same things in a web browser if your site has those capabilities already (see aPhotoFolio’s slick functionality on an iPhone).

    That way you only have to focus on getting one thing right (your site) and it will work for all mobile browsers (Android, Windows, Blackberry etc etc).

    Besides, look at the underlying technology. If you have an app, and want to add new images, new information, etc, you have to first update the program (not easy if you don’t have some kind of CMS), then everyone has to update the program on their phones.

    If you do everything in the browser, there is no updating necessary aside from the normal portfolio pruning (that should be done anyway).

    • @Mason, Agree with you here and our approach has been to make a great, CMS-powered portfolio site a pleasure to navigate on the Iphone, using the same assets as your portfolio website so it’s current.
      Alternatively, if you wanna build an Iphone app, make something remarkable, not a rehash of your website.

  5. Darrell Eager

    Raygun Studio which is a CGI & Retoucher represented by Kate Chase came out I think a year ago with an App that looked like the controls of a phaser ray gun and just happened to include a portfolio of his work, very cool! I think he’s had like 600,00 downloads and the fact that it’s free sure helps.

  6. This topic could not have come at a better time. I launched 1-1/2 months ago and have just landed my first job from the app. While out for drinks with his client, a creative director friend of mine was able to show a streaming behind the scenes video of how I work via my app and sell him on my photos. We just signed the PO. So my app has paid for itself 3 times over. BTW new city tips for Buenos AIres wil be up next week on the app when I return.

    • @Monte Isom,

      Was it the App that sold him or your work? Or your creative director friend, who now needs a kickback?

      • @Cletus, @Monte Isom,
        There is no denying the fact that someone reppin’ your work to a prospect is a much bigger selling then the app itself.

        Leave the app to it’s one devices and it’s just another gimmick floating around internet land. Put a rep, agent, or friend out to field with it and it becomes a useful tool.

  7. As from my experience, the first one to have a dedicate portfolio app on iphone was Lafforgue. The developer of that app is on the market with a free app called iFolio where photographers can upload their portfolio (there is also my). The photographers are listed on a ranking system, based on how many users include it in their favorites (remember me please ;).

    Photographers can update in real time their portfolio, there is a server side free application to update. Of course for any photographer there are contact info and professional profile.
    It is possible to browse photos in a portfolio all together in gallery mode, or in single mode using a slideshow or the classic touch gesture.
    Artist are listed on the base of a ranking system. The ranking is related to how many users add an artist as a favorite one…there is also my portfolio inside…so please if you like it…

    More info on iFolio from this page:

    http://peroteau.herve.free.fr/ifolio/language.html

    best

    Mario

  8. The new version of Adobe Flash will have the ability to make iPhone apps pretty easy and the price to build out apps will drop. When the price drops everyone and their mama will get their apps and no one will give a shit at that point unless your app does something stupid like fart when you shake the phone.

  9. Am I crazy? Or what! I don’t even own an iPhone. I do have a cell fone that I use to pick up messages, make calls, etc. The only people who have that number are the ones who need it for specific purposes. But the voicemail message on it clearly states that if you want to get in touch with me, call my landline…..believe me, I’ll get back to you.

    When I’m out, I’m out and I don’t want to be on a leash….especially a leash as short as an iPhone.

    Sure, maybe it costs me a job or two, not being in constant “touch”. So be it. I’d rather have a life than a leash.

    (Nor do I have a sat-nav thingy in my car. I like to get lost.)

  10. My kids have iphones, personally I don’t get it, to have an app for this and that is a waste of time to me. Granted I have a Blackberry that I can get my emails and calls in most places around the world. That is all I want it for.
    I would rather be spending time shooting or marketing than spending time playing/using an app. on a phone,If the popular this is having the ability to see a portfolio, I can have a card with my portfolio on it put it in the camera and look at it. If I need to make call then then can put a phone in my dslr. screens sizes about the same, i gonna put a request in to Nikon.

  11. I never understood the excitement over the Chase Jarvis or other apps. It might be good marketing for the creators to become more known among novice photographers with iPhonses, but in the end, it’s still all about, ‘how does this make me a better photographer?’

    just my 2 cents worth.

  12. The only thing remarkable about these photographers with iPhone apps is how much they like to talk about themselves.

  13. To be fair Chase’s app is actually pretty useful….

    Doesn’t do much that the free photoshop app can’t but it has a certain charm….

    I guess the fact that Chase would almost certainly be in the top 5 names mentioned if someone asked “name a photographer who does outdoor lifestyle shoots?” he must be doing something right…

  14. my rep has had my and his other shooters images and reels on his iphone since it first came out….he landed a job in japan showing a reel…it was the first time the client had seen the iphone….
    my website loads and shows very well on the iphone and i always have my latest work with me….just let someone flip through or run a slide show….it is like the ultimate mini portfolio…and always with me….
    i am not sure what the need for an app is?

  15. Seems like a good idea in the short run.

    You can also make your website Iphone friendly for much less and creative directors could still show your portfolio to clients.