With DSLR sales up and Instagram setting a new bar for tastefully shot photos, there are countless hobbyist and amateur photographers out there.
A new startup called Ourspot is tapping into that community by creating a marketplace where anybody can hire amateur photographers to shoot events for free to around a few hundred dollars or more. It’s out for San Francisco today, but Los Angeles and New York are coming soon.
The sole founder, Sam Yam, is a veteran entrepreneur who worked at Loopt before co-founding and selling mobile ad mediation startup AdWhirl to AdMob. After leaving Google shortly after the $750 million AdMob acquisition, he started group-buying site ChompOn. But that flamed out like so many other group-buying startups and Yam started tinkering with new ideas.
“I was thinking about people’s passions and how to find an opportunity for them to extend those out beyond hobbies and make them a supplement,” he said.
He explored some of his own personal hobbies like music, but then settled on photography.
“Those things are really hard to monetize by yourself unless you focus exclusively on them as your life,” he said. “But photography is something that you can run random gigs for. There are a lot of people who are into photography, but they might not have the means to be a professional or market themselves. I just wanted to create an opportunity for them to put their work out.”
On the site, you can scroll through photographers’ portfolios and list events that you want to hire for. You can pay as much or as little as you like, but the site suggests $10 for “fun” shoots, $25 for “standard” shoots and $100 or more for custom work. Ourspot takes an 8 percent cut, but Yam said he might potentially change that fee.
It’s easy to sign-up to be a photographer. You either log-in with your e-mail or Facebook. Yam says that all photographers who put their work on Ourspot keep the rights to their photos. (He wanted to avoid an Instagram-like debacle, after the Facebook-owned mobile app initially said it would reserve the right to use people’s photos as ads.)
He also says he’s not trying to cannibalize the market for very high-end segments like wedding photography, which can cost thousands of dollars.
“There’s just a much larger market of people that could casually take photos,” he said. Plus, he said this could make it easier to hire people who want to shoot for fun for super-casual events like picnics.
To grow a community for the site, Yam is giving out free business cards to Ourspot photographers (pictured below). He’ll also hold monthly meetups in San Francisco where a professional photographer will be available to do training sessions with Ourspot members.
Yam built and designed the entire site himself without a co-founder. Ourspot hasn’t taken funding yet, but Yam says he’s looking at a seed round.