By now, most professional photographers and videographers are aware of how digital technology has changed their art and their business. Few, however, understand how technology is going to be changing their lives in the next five years. That question will be the focus of the LDV Vision Summit, a first-of-its-kind conference in New York City on June 4 that will bring together business, technology and media leaders to discuss how photography and video will shape the way people experience the world, how they will shop, how they will learn, and how creatives can best adapt to this new world in order to survive and thrive. It was organized by Evan Nisselson, an investor and entrepreneur who has been involved with digital imaging companies for 20 years, from working in Silicon Valley in the 1990s to launching online photo-archiving service Digital Railroad in the 2000s. He recently talked with MAP about the event—and how images are changing everything online.
MAP: Let’s start with the most basic question—why did you decide the world needs another digital technology conference?
EN: My background has been in digital imaging for 20 years, from building consumer products to creating platforms like Digitial Railroad to help professionals and agencies market and sell their images. After that business folded, I became a mentor to help entrepreneurs avoid the mistakes I made and to help them do what I did well. About three years ago I became involved with LDV Capital, an early-stage venture fund that invests in digital-imaging and video technologies. And what I realized is that there are many technology events and pro photography events, but there’s no event that brings together the smartest people in digital photography and video technologies to discuss the future and how professionals are going to make, organize, monetize, track and publish photos and video. So I put together the LDV Vision Summit.
MAP: Let’s talk about the future.
EN: The world of visual communication has drastically changed, of course. People are shopping differently online, for instance, and what’s driving that is images. Images drive exponentially more traffic than text. And video is now changing the way people are experiencing the world. We’re being entertained differently—more and more people are watching Netflix and turning away from TV. More people are interacting on Twitter and Facebook as they watch TV. And what’s happening is that as more technology solutions appear, it becomes confusing for businesses, investors, and creatives to understand where publishing is going and how to maximize the value of photos and video to sell products and to brand their products in the right places.
MAP: Give us an example of a company who gets how things are changing.
EN: There’s a company called Taboola, which will be at the conference, and it’s growing fast because it’s figured out how to create a video platform that allows relevant digital content to be marketed alongside videos online. Essentially it helps put a company’s content out into online communities where it will be most effective and therefore adds value to publishing websites.
MAP: What about camera companies and future technology?
EN: I believe that within five years, camera phones and wearable cameras will replace 99 percent of the traditional cameras in the world. An example of a camera company that has succeeded, of course, is GoPro. [Editor's Note: Seethis post for more on GoPro's online marketing strategy.]
MAP: And you mentioned wearable cameras.
EN: I think that wearable cameras will be big. I have invested in a company called Narrative, which makes a camera that I wear on my shirt. It takes 3,000 to 4,000 thousand images a day. One percent of those images will be interesting to unbelievable, and the company’s software helps me filter the best images. I think that today’s dominate camera companies will go out of business like Kodak if they don’t reinvent themselves. And so the summit is a place to discuss that with an audience that wonders how these changes are going to affect their businesses.
MAP: Let’s turn to the future for creatives—the photographers and people working in motion who are making the content that all these businesses want to leverage.
EN: We’ll have Rick Smolan at the conference talking about the future of visual communications. He’s a photographer who’s gone from shooting for National Geographic to being a book publisher, to being a self-publisher, and throughout his career he’s been exploring how technology is reinventing storytelling. And that is what photographers and video creators are—storytellers.
MAP: What’s the biggest challenge that creatives face as we move forward?
EN: Understanding viral marketing. Frankly, the biggest challenge for photographers is that many are afraid to distribute their images online for fear that they’ll be stolen. That’s missing the point today. Smart photographers today are building up their Instagram following so they can monetize their work in new ways, like selling prints directly. Our keynote is going to be from Matt Ruby, the CEO and founder of Vooza.com, this group that creates hilarious videos about the startup world, and he’s going to talk about viral video marketing.
MAP: The shift from stills to video, or the addition of video to the web ecosystem, will probably also be making a big impact the future of the imaging business.
EN: Absolutely. We’ll have a panel at the end of the day with the head of video for Time Inc., the president of The Blaze, and the head of Magnate Media,and what they’re going to talk about is what kinds of video they’re seeing that have the most value for their business. They’ll also talk about what’s better for them—creating their own content or sourcing it from stock video. So any person working in video would want to know what kind of content these media companies—a mixture of old school and new school—are interested in buying or licensing.