The Documentary project – crowd funding

Research was directed towards several links…but as with some of the other links in the coursework some are now defunct : the 2011 BJP link in the course notes comes up page not found  and following the link to Emphas.is, the specialist photojournalism crowd-funding platform covered in the OCA article, takes me to a different site called Crowd Angels?

Find a Crowd Angel to guide your project. You‘ll need other stuff then just money to execute your idea. Maybe someone to cover your back. Maybe expert advice. Certainly exposure. You know what? There’s still good folks out there. You just have to find them. Our Crowd Angels will cover your back.

Kickerstarter still seem to be alive and kicking however ….

From the OCA article written by Jose:

 

Launched in 2009 as a web platform for funding personal creative projects, Kickstarter is the original crowd-funding concept. Thanks to Kickstarter photographer Pete Brook has been able to raise nearly $8,000 for his Prison Photography project. A worthwhile cause of universal social appeal, coupled with an intelligent marketing strategy, will allow Brook to develop his project and… put pressure through public opinion and raise awareness of the social issues he is concerned with…

Kickstarter projects are only funded if the fundraising target is met. Amazon manages donations but no money exchanges hands until the deadline for raising funds is over. It is only then that Kickstarter and Amazon get their commission – 5% and 3-5% respectively.

There are many benefits to crowd funding, not at least the fact that a photographer, completing a project others would ‘like to see’,  not only no longer has to bear the financial brunt, but they can also gauge the level of interest in the suggest idea. New forums for documentary photography are opened and work can reach many different audiences. A photographer backed by ‘the few’ could retain more editorial control than one backed by a major publisher. There are also potential rewards for sponsors, so on the surface it’s a win win situation.

Are there pitfalls?  Well further research has revealed that Emphas.is went bust with all the inherent difficulties:

While all photographers who successfully raised funds on the platform received the money they were owed before the company’s liquidation, a group of photographers have seen their work become hostage to Emphas.is’ internal divisions.

As Jose pointed out would all the projects that are worthy be overshadowed by ‘that which is comparatively trivial and self-indulgent … [or] be dangerously blurred in crowd-funding.’

His main concern was that once funded the successful documentary bidders would decide to publicise their work on a pro-bono basis resulting in a ‘surplus of quality and free documentary work.’ This indeed would be manna from heaven for editors and a kick in the teeth for professional paid photographers. As noted the quality of crowd funded work and even straight forward amateur work that you can find on the web can be outstanding.

Another pitfall I guess is being able to promote and market yourself as a commodity!

The comments on the article also threw out some other valuable links:

http://www.david-campbell.org/2011/04/19/crowd-funding-photojournalism-review/
http://www.david-campbell.org/2011/04/08/the-back-catalogue-photojournalism-in-the-new-media-economy/
https://crowdbooks.com/

Personally I think crowd funding can be the way forward for many valid projects that would otherwise get overlooked.

Research

Crowdfunding http://www.weareoca.com/photography/crowd-funding/ [Accessed  07 Oct 2017]

Prison Photography https://prisonphotography.org [Accessed  07 Oct 2017]

Emphas.is story http://www.bjp-online.com/2013/10/crowdfunding-platform-emphas-is-goes-insolvent-amid-internal-conflicts/ [Accessed  07 Oct 2017]

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