A new business model may be the best solution for insect photographer

Ant on clover petals 

Bugging out: How rampant online piracy squashed one insect photographer
[Via Ars Technica]

Here is a true story about how copyright infringement costs my small photography business thousands of dollars every year.

Or, maybe it isn’t. It could also be a true story of how copyright infringement earns me thousands of dollars every year. I can’t be sure. Either way, this is definitely the story of how copyright infringement takes up more of my time than I wish to devote to it. Copyright infringement drains my productivity to the point where I create hundreds fewer images each year. And it’s why, in part, I am leaving professional photography for an academic position less prone to the frustrations of a floundering copyright system.

I have an unusual, and an unusually fun, job: I photograph insects for a living. I love what I do in no small part because the difference between my profession and getting paid to be an overgrown kid, is… not that much, really. I collect ants and beetles, I play with camera gadgets, I run around in the woods. Meanwhile, publishers, museums, and the pest control industry send me enough in licensing fees that I haven’t starved to death. By nature photographer standards, business is booming. I cover a modest mortgage in a working class neighborhood. I even afford a new lens or two every year.

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 A good article. I think the solution may be one of the points he brought up – find a new business model.

And he may already be doing this. Anything that can be digitized will be hard to make money off of. As he discusses, he spends a lot of time trying to make money off of infringed work.

This becomes a point of diminishing returns. But what cannot be digitized is himself. What he brings cannot be digitized.

So teaching, workshops, etc. may be the best moneymaking choice. Just as concerts may be better money-makers than CDs for the artists.

In addition, he can create an online community that wants to support him. Instead of spending money battling those that will not pay, spend the time with a community that likes you. They will not only help support him financially, they might help him battling infringement.

It is hard to make money off of digitized things but very posible to make money off of community-building and social connections.