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’.
‘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?