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KodakIT gets IT in neck!

Kodakit, Eastman Kodak’s controversial bottom-feeding photography service, like Snappr described as an ‘Uber of photography’, has announced it will cease operations from January 2020.

The announcement comes in the same week as Snappr has been forced to abandon its ‘Unique Selling Proposition’ – US$59 photo shoots.

The announcement was made in an e-mail to its photographers, or ‘independent contractors’.

An e-mail sent to Kodakit contributors. Source: Petapixel.

‘We regret to inform you that we have made the decision to discontinue Kodakit operations,’ Eastman Kodak wrote. ‘We expect the business to wind down by the end of January 2020.’

The Singapore-based subsidiary Eastman Kodak quietly launched in early 2016. Upon it’s arrival in Australia in 2017, Kodakit boldly and ambitious promised to ‘revolutionise how photographers and businesses work together, creating the photography ecosystem of the future’.

Kodakit was essentially a cheap rent-a-pro service, which matched photographers with clients. It was slammed from the outset for having rights-grabbing T&Cs that forced photographers to hand over copyright to clients and waive moral rights. It also seemed to avoid the obligation to impose GST on photographic services Australia, giving itself an unfair advantage over locally-based photo businesses.

Here’s what we wrote earlier this year about Kodakit:

The sales pitch [by Kodakit] is that ‘photo shoots used to be complicated – we’ve fixed that’, as if hiring a photographer was a problem that needed a solution.

No images can be used for personal promotion without written permission from Kodakit or the client.

Kodakit also appears to be aware of the risks associated with hiring amateur practitioners, and is distancing itself from any mishaps: Photographers are signed up as ‘independent contractors’, meaning they have no employment benefits such as legal protection. Kodakit says all jobs are performed at the photographer’s risk – it doesn’t sound like there’s much in the way of insurance coverage.

Should a legal claim arise, the photographer assumes all costs and risks while Kodakit is protected. Clients may also refuse to pay if they reject a photographer’s work.

Kodakit initially targetted consumers looking for wedding and portrait photography but soon shifted towards businesses seeking high volume photography – real estate, food photography, and head shots. A former Kodakit photographer from Brisbane told Inside Imaging he had an unsatisfactory experience using the platform. Despite almost adequate remuneration, communication was poor, clients were difficult, and jobs were inconsistent – and mostly shooting food pictures for online delivery services.

Kodakit emerged at a time when the ‘gig economy’ was in full hype, and tech start-ups scrambled to ‘Uberise’ any industry where it appeared applicable. Major competitors in the on-demand photography sphere are the likes of Snappr and Paris-based Meero.

There has always been doubt whether the Uber business model will work in the photo industry. Unlike a taxi ride, photography is a personalised service, where clients have varying degrees of expectations. There is no ‘one size fits all’ method to selling photography.

So Kodakit is down and out. Who is next?

3 Comments

  1. DW DW December 17, 2019

    Hallelujah!
    One down but still a few to go!
    Having failed to navigate the transition from analogue to digital through no fault but their own, this attempt to devalue the professional photography industry always seemed like a spiteful stab in the back from the tattered remnants of an organisation struggling for relevance.
    With Snappr also appearing to be in full retreat from the bargain basement, is it too much to hope that the winds appear to be changing once again and that professional photography might feel the benefit of a stiff breeze at it’s back for a while?
    Interestingly, I received a phone call from another of these painful “aggregator” sites today – the much-maligned (duly deserved) OneFlare. Over the past 18 months, I had attempted to use this service very selectively to fill a few dates but without any form of success (40 quotes, 5 responses, zero bookings) and had made my displeasure with the quality of leads generated very clear to them on several occasions. Having given them up as a complete lost cause, I was very surprised to receive a call out of the blue asking what it would take to return to the service, which has, apparently, changed significantly (their own words)!
    These changes appear to include the acquisition of the weddings.com.au brand and a renewed targeting of industries in the wedding sector who they admit have been “rightly concerned about the quality of leads provided”. Of course this was a sales call and nothing at OneFlare comes without paying upfront and this time it was a one-off fee of $545 for a 6 months premium listing which included enough credits to submit three quotes per month.
    Needless to say I declined their “great” offer but did suggest that if they were really interested in regaining my trust and my custom that they might like to offer a short free trial of the new service so that I could try it out but strangely they were off the line quicker than a scammer who has called the local fraud squad by mistake!

  2. Roger Roger December 17, 2019

    Good riddance to them and I hope the others go under as well…especially Snappr

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