It sounds like something from the Wild West: Wanted Dead or Alive… a picture of a telephone. Or a house in Wisconsin. Or someone actually reading a book with a Kindle.
But bounty hunting isn’t just for bail bondsmen and Wyatt Earp wannabes. It’s also becoming an opportunity for photographers who want to earn a few bucks.
GoSee4me Joins The Posse
First on the scene was SpyMedia, a citizen reporter site that arrived close on the heels of Scoopt and which later let buyers offer “Spy Bounties” for images they wanted. Those might range from shots of products to stock-type images — presumably photos that were too specific for an agency and which hadn’t turned up on Flickr.
Recently launched though is GoSee4Me.com, a site that focuses exclusively on photo bounties. Unlike SpyMedia though, buyers don’t set a fixed price. Instead, photographers in the vicinity of the object are sent an email inviting them to bid on the job.
The founder of the service, Josh Rothman, told us that the inspiration came not from looking at the prices on SpyMedia (which tend to fall around the $20 mark, although they can sometimes make it into the triple figures necessary to justify a morning spent hunting down a shot) but from his own experience:
The idea came from my own desire to look at an antique chair that was being offered for sale across the country. The seller had some photos posted on his website, but I was concerned that there might be some flaws in the chair that the seller was not revealing in either the written description or the photos he chose to provide. I thought to myself, “I wish I knew someone who lived there that could go look at that chair for me.”
It’s unlikely that Josh’s need was unique. In theory, there should be a similar demand felt by many people, especially among those buying expensive items on eBay. Cars, for example, are one of the most popular items sold at online auctions but buyers have to rely on the sellers’ images. It might be useful for the buyer to send his or her own photographer to make sure the photo isn’t hiding any damaged bodywork or that there really is an engine under the hood.
Bringing Some Reality to the Marketplace
Allowing photographers to bid on prices rather than hoping that photographers either have the images available or are prepared to get them for $20 might bring a bit of reality into the marketplace.
The question is whether these sorts of images are valuable enough to buyers to pay a price that makes them worthwhile for bounty-hunting photographers to collect. (The fact that the rights to the image are passed on to the buyer would have to be factored into the price too.)
At the moment, it’s too early to say whether those opportunities will turn up on GoSee4Me. The site only went live at the beginning of November and much of the time since has been spent signing up photographers. Over 500 joined in one week. The focus has now moved on to buyers though and recently, the site picked up its first job.
Josh told us:
One of our members in France is considering doing business with a bank in the US, but he would like to see a photo of the outside of the bank before he goes through with the deal. Presumably, he wants to confirm that the bank has an established presence and possibly he wants to know the size of the building and whether it appears well maintained.
This is a great use for GoSee4Me. A small investment that provides peace of mind before committing to a business deal.
It sounds like an interesting idea and something worth watching. Sign-up is free and there’s no commitment.
Of course, there’s also nothing to stop you from launching your own website and marketing your bounty services to buyers and collectors who need goods in your area. All you’d have to do is find people ready to pay the reward.
[tags] scoopt, gosee4me, spymedia, citizen journalism, citizen photography [/tags]