Sustainable Business Models

by | Sep 19, 2012 | Strictly Business Blog

CEO of VII Photo, Stephen Mayes has had a long and illustrious career as a leader in the stock licensing arena. Stephen will serve as a panelist for the session “The Challenge: Sustainable and Ongoing Creator Compensation during ASMP’s September 27th Symposium. In person attendees can register here.  Registration is not required for the live stream presentation.

There are many business models being tested by individuals and institutions as the media industry struggles through this period of seismic change.  But it’s too early yet to predict which will be sustainable and the only certainty is that doing things in the old model will not sustain us moving forward.  The old ways aren’t dead, far from it, but on their own they’re not enough.  The shrinking print economy, crumbling prices and over supply are eating the business that we used to know.

But there’s a hugely expanded appetite for photography and with this comes new opportunities; the greatest obstacles to commercial expansion are the limits of our own imaginations and our fear of uncertainty. I see more and more brilliant business innovations, often sparked by young entrepreneurs with low overheads and little to lose.  Some of them are experiencing short-term success, some are not and it’s still too soon to judge which will sustain as the world moves forward.

VII is bridging the gap between old and new by fighting for every available dollar from the old economy while investing our time, energy and precious cash in testing new opportunities.  We have a vision that’s grounded in current reality but which pushes into speculative areas and there’s inevitably some risk.  But there’s no risk greater than standing still and we’re experimenting to see what takes seed and what will wither.  The risk is not only commercial; there’s also a risk in rethinking the very nature of the work we do so the stakes are high.

Right now we’re experiencing the best of times and the worst of times.  There will be winners, some by chance and some by vision and sheer hard work, but there will be no rewards for the faint of heart.  We can’t step backwards, only forwards, even if it means letting go of some dearly held ways of thinking.

Stephen Mayes is CEO of VII Photo in New York. He has worked at the top levels of photography for 25 years, in the areas of journalism, art, commercial and fashion – working as SVP at Getty Images, SVP eyestorm, Director of the Image Archive at Art + Commerce and Secretary of World Press Photo competition.