Marc Prüst | The visual economy of the photographic industry

Marc Prüst | The visual economy of the photographic industry | Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, departments of International Relations and Art History | Promotor(es); supervisor(s): Michel Doortmont, Veronica Peselmann  | 01/02/2023 – 01/02-2028 | marc[at] /  m.h.c.prust[at] 

In the age of digital media, images are more important than ever, but the vast majority of image makers find it increasingly difficult to make a full time living from their work. We are in a moment of contradiction where, at the same time, the social value of visuals has increased while the economic value of photography has declined. However, the industry’s attitude to the production and distribution of photographic images seems to have changed little. Photographers strive to create visual essays that are published in print media, that pay little to no money, exhibitions and photobooks are popular with the audience but do not provide an income for the practitioner. Print sales are limited to a small number of high-selling artists. This research aims to understand the transition of the visual economic industry and how economic value relates to social value. To better understand the photographic industry and to be able to define how it has developed over the past years, it is essential to identify and describe what fields and roles make up the industry. The interaction and positioning of the players within the fields and identifying what roles they play, be it as practitioners, or as institutions can help bring clarity to this industry and the challenges it faces.