by Mike McNamee Published 01/10/2010
Welcome to our 51st Professional Imagemaker, another bumper issue, laden with offerings from the speaker line-up to the Convention. Fresh back from Photokina is a good time to ponder the state of our industry. The recession is worldwide and affecting both the providers of consumer goods and the buyers. There was little in the way of ground breaking technology at Photokina and although 3-D was much in evidence it is difficult to see how it might impact upon the professional photographer. It is questionable if a photography show was even the correct place to showcase such technology even though the 3-D stereoscopic methodology was worked in more than a century ago and the physics remains the same. It looks more like a vehicle to sell televisions although there were a few 3-D prints using fresnel technology on the walls. How the public will react to having to wear either polarising of green/red spectacles for their viewing is unknown (although one might assume that the likes of Panasonic have investing hundreds of thousands of pounds finding out!). One thing is sure, it's hard enough to sell an album theses days so try selling a flat screen, 3-D capable TV to an impoverished pair of newly-weds and you might have a challenge on your hands.
But perhaps I am wrong (again!) when mobile phones came out they were called 'car phones' and came complete with a small attache case. Now they have reduced in scale until the limiting factor is the distance from your ear to your mouth (or cheek even). Few people do not own one and increasing numbers are abandoning their landlines as being unimportant to their daily lives (until they want to phone 999 to report that their mobile has been stolen!).Televisions, on the other hand have expanded outwards until they are giant dominating rigs in the corners of rooms. They are however, much thinner we saw one at Photokina that was the thickness of a finger!
Despite all this, the market remains conservative, I know lots of people with pictures on their walls and, at the time of writing, not a single person with a 3-D TV. Which links nicely to another thing we picked up on a Photokina. Image Reports is a survey of the wide-format print industry. Their latest survey produced some interesting statistics: 60% of the people said they offered additional services on top of printing and of this 50% was 'creative services' and another 32% added web design and web-to-print services. No mention is made of it, but presumably the additional services include photography and thus siphon work from pure photographers. The answer is simple, buy a printer and hit back, expand your services to include creative stuff like brochure design, fine art reproduction, limited edition printing - expand the portfolio of what you do to expand your potential for earning.
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