New research finds many photographers believe digital platforms are damaging the industry

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New research by Queensland's University of Technology (QUT) has revealed many photographers believe digital platforms like Oneflare, ImageBrief and Snappr are damaging the profession.

Dr Penny Williams, who with Professor Paula McDonald and Dr Robyn Mayes, studied why some workers, in this case photographers, are reluctant to use digital platforms to find work.

“We surveyed 51 photographers of whom 55 per cent had deliberately avoided platforms, 25 per cent were listed on platforms (two of these had not received any work), and 20 per cent were past users, most of whom had left because they had not received work from the platform.”

Dr Williams said the researchers found photographers believed digital platforms that connect buyers - those who need work done, with sellers - people who provide labour or services, online, damaged the sustainability of their profession.

“Some felt the time, resources and costs involved in a platform-derived job outweighed the potential for income generation.

“For these reasons, photographers resisted seeking work through many digital platforms – although some types of platforms were considered less damaging than others.

“Photographers are motivated to develop a creative reputation and social relationships with clients that bring repeated work over time and so the way a platform influenced this, determined how likely photographers were to use the platform.”

Dr Williams said predictions of large numbers of Australian workers choosing to access work via digital platforms had, so far, not come to fruition.

“This study suggests that digital platforms may not be effective for photographers and other creative workers whose work differs from the transactional services provided by other platform workers such as delivery workers (Deliveroo) and taxi drivers (Uber).

“This research shows that the way platforms function is likely to have significant but different effects and usage by particular groups of workers.”

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