I’m not a big fan of the passage of time, and the end of the year is one of those moments when we all tend to reflect on what has just transpired as well as what lies ahead.
I guess I simply hate the notion that “time marches on” or that “time waits for no one.” I’d be thrilled to death if my kids just stayed the ages they are now (3 and 7), if my face stopped adding wrinkles and if the Giants stayed Super Bowl Champs forever…but I digress.
Maybe that’s why I chose this field as that is essentially what photography does – it stops time, freezing moments forever (or at least until the hard drive crashes).
Well, despite this emotional disorder, I’ll trudge forward and do exactly what I just told you I abhor – look ahead at a few things I see coming down the road we all need to pay a bit of attention to in 2009 and beyond.
1 – This category is over 10-years-old and consumers seem to love digital technology when it comes to taking pictures. Let’s just say, they get it. Now let’s help them do something with all these digital files they are collecting. You simply have to start offering and selling storage solutions. Think of it this way – the people that have their image collections stored and secured properly are far more likely to be the customers that are getting prints, photo books, cards and calendars made….no? Enough said.
2 – As you’ll hear George Schaub ask in his Field of View column this month, how much is too much on the megapixel front? Again, storage is already a problem – how much bigger are file sizes going to get? I know I’d be way more excited over a new DSLR that somehow automatically categorized and organized my images in-camera than I would with 4-5 more megapixels. For the average picture-taker, how much better can picture quality get? At least for this crowd there’s other areas we could be exploring with regard to camera innovation is all I’m saying.
3 – In-store display/design has gotten pretty amazing over the last few years and it appears to be morphing yet again. The winners here are letting their customers know how these new lifestyle products can fit into their lives by displaying them in a variety of in-home environments. Digital has been unlocking the creative beast inside the end-user for years and it seems it is finally doing the same thing to retailers – let’s hope this trend continues moving forward. R.I.P. for the photo store of yesterday …and good riddance.
4 – A photo book is not a photo album, enlargement capabilities don’t stop at 8×10, a slideshow isn’t images whizzing by on a screen and wireless means much more than “without wires”. To paraphrase Lakeside Camera & PhotoWorks’ David Guidry, as I have a few times in the past, this industry doesn’t have product problems, it has communication problems. Let your customers know of the many and spectacular ways that they can tell the story of their lives with their images today. Don’t just tell them, show them. Too many people I talk to think a photo book is no different than a photo album and it’s sooooo different they aren’t even of the same species.
5 – Lastly – addressing the economy, even though I’d rather not – the one thing most of my family and friends are still doing is taking pictures. While everyone I know has cut back on this or that, they are still excited to talk about the pictures they just took or the camera they just bought. Life unfolds everyday – just like the aforementioned unstoppable churn of time, and people are recording the laughter, the smiles and the people and places just as they always have…and always will. And this great industry, at every level, is still proudly standing behind it all.
Here’s to a wonderful and prosperous New Year!