While companies like Snappr, Boom, and Pretty Instant seem built to devalue photography by commoditizing it, ViewShaper claims its goal is to do the exact opposite with a system built specifically for pros along with a photographer-focused pricing structure.
ViewShaper’s founder Benjamin Le Cam told PetaPixel that he believes these other companies raising millions of dollars to make it easier and faster for large companies to acquire images – at the cost of a photographer’s individual value – are doing it wrong.
“Marketplaces like Snappr or Pretty Instant have been rejected by professionals because they have to compete with amateurs. Here, only professionals are accepted,” Le Cam says. “Besides, ViewShaper offers the client to do everything online, even when they need to find a videographer (no need to jump on a call with an agent). They can define all their needs through the online brief.”
Le Cam says that ViewShaper puts most of the control in the hands of the photographer, and does its best to make the process work for how real professionals actually want to operate.
Photographers who use ViewShaper are free to set their own prices, work when and where they want, set their own cancelation policy, and make additional money by offering the ability to hire actors, makeup artists, hairdressers, and more.
The pay structure at ViewShaper is notably different than its more well-known competitors. First, there are two methods for how the company handles booking. First is what Le Cam describes as the “AirBNB model” called Instant Booking. This system is designed for what ViewShaper calls “simple projects.”
The photographer is booked based on their availability and they can message the client right after having being booked to organize the shooting. With this setup, a photographer defines an hourly rate per category, and the platform adds a 20% commission on top of that. The photographer’s rate plus the website’s commission is what the customer sees through the booking portal.
The second method is what Le Cam calls On-Demand Booking. This system is made for specific photo projects and video projects. The photo/videographer has the opportunity to message the client to ask for more details and make sure they can provide the service.
“Obviously, they do not have the right to share any contact information to avoid using the website,” Le Cam says. “We’ll soon add a bot to detect any fraud.”
In this setup, a client sends their brief and the photographer replies with a custom quote. ViewShaper adds between a 15% and 20% commission on top of it, and the combination of the photographer’s quote plus the commission is what the client sees.
ViewShaper’s system is similar to how SmartShoot operates, except with SmartShoot a photographer has to calculate the company’s cut from their own pitches, which makes it feel like they are never fully able to charge what they want to be charging. ViewShaper appears to be trying to alleviate this feeling with its method of adding on a commission on top of the photographer’s rate rather than removing it from bids.
ViewShaper says that it has a rapidly growing network throughout the United States, but it isn’t fully serving every major city yet. If you’re interested in being listed on ViewShaper’s website, you need to submit an application here. In order to keep the quality of the professionals on the site high, ViewShaper needs to review all applicants. Additionally, you must have a professional business license to become a ViewShaper photographer/videographer.
The company seems to be putting significant effort behind tailoring its service to be fairer and understanding of photographers’ needs, though it still faces tough competition in the crowded space. SmartShoot and the long list of agencies offering similar benefits make the space particularly challenging to stand out in. Still, ViewShaper’s value proposition at least seems more akin to what would please the working professional than the big names grabbing headlines with large investments.