A big shift in the photography industry

BY DOMINIQUE JAMES

In recent years, and yes, because of the great strides in digital imaging technology, photography has taken off like a rocket! And that rocket, it seems, won’t be running out of fuel any time soon. Okey, if not like a rocket, at least, it has taken off like never before. If the general trend is of any indication, photography will grow stronger and it will attract more and more people.

The biggest indicator of growth, which is the sale of digital cameras, shows that more and more people are buying cameras. There is definitely a growing demand. And camera manufacturers are feeding that buying frenzy by coming up with newer and newer camera models and lenses as fast as they could. They are investing in R&D, which in turn, can take be aligned into the sales figures that are definitely climbing up.

To support this sales trend, the sales figures for all sorts of photographic equipment such as accessories, lighting, and bags are also on the rise. The industry, as a whole, is robust. And when we say “industry,” we mean it to include also the manufacturers of computers and their corresponding accessories, the many software designed for photography, and the whole educational support system.

It’s good that more and more people are discovering, for the first time, the wonders of photography. They therefore turn out to be first-time buyers. Likewise, those who are already into photography, are just beginning to be swept up into photography’s never-ending upgrade path. They are now eyeing, and buying, better, newer and more sophisticated camera models, and they are also expanding on their arsenal of equipment and gears. That’s just how it is. You start out with one thing, like any newcomer, and sooner than later, you outgrow what you just got and you wanted something that will cater to your needs.

Many old-time photographers, meaning, those who have either generally started their path to photography way back during the film era, or those who are already established themselves just before the massive surge of interest in photography, have expressed not only bewilderment, but also dismay at the situation. First of all, it cannot be denied that many established or practicing professional photographers feel that this sudden boom will put their livelihood at risk. They are facing tougher competition from newcomers who are, at the same time, driving the prices down, and who have practically no overhead to begin with. This situation is understandable.

Because digital photography has opened up to almost everyone who can afford to buy a DSLR the basic secret formula to creating wonderful photographs that are almost as good or sometimes even better than what the expensive professionals can do, many are thinking that they can quit their day job and go into photography for themselves as a business. And right now, these people with new DSLRs in their hands, can afford to offer their services at much lower price which is slowly eroding the going professional market rate.

Quite a revolutionary situation. This happened not in the period of 20 years. All this happened in just about a little over 5 years. And if the trend continues, which is what it seems to be doing, there will still be more and more who will be joining the fray. This trend will go on for a much longer time than we can all expect or anticipate. Business is good, at least for those who are standing on the right side of the fence, and many companies and people in the industry are protecting and exploiting this new status quo. And, the business that it is, they are also banking on the trend to go on for a much longer time.

Many people are lamenting that the old way of doing things in photography have all but disappeared. The old setup, the old business, and the old system is practically gone, and now, it has been replaced with something that’s totally new. This shift can, indeed, be viewed as bewildering. It’s as if something has collectively hit us, and we don’t know what it is. And it’s the kind of hit that’s so sudden that we don’t feel anything at first, just an unbelievably numb feeling, and then, as time goes on, the pain starts to grow until it becomes unbearable.

But that’s looking at things from only a single, and if I may say, a narrow perspective. Only those who cannot accept the new reality of the photography industry, and only those who are unwilling to change and go with the flow, will be left behind. The best thing to do is to meet the challenges of the changed industry. Anyone will have a far better chance of succeeding in this industry if they only go with the flow.

If you ask me, this whole thing is really a blessing. Despite the turn-around, and despite the seeming topsy-turvy turn of events, there is actually an emerging pattern, and a logic that is going on. One doesn’t have to be a genius to recognize it. If we only stop a while, and observe, and see what’s going on around, we can see a number of broad strokes going on. And these broad strokes are the key areas for success in the photography industry. These are the very things that are energetically providing the industry with the kind of momentum that it previously never knew. The upswing, urgent and progressive, will therefore lead to a lot of really interesting developments. So, if you want to take advantage of what the photography industry has to offer, you have only to learn what is going on and then properly align yourself to it.

I am very tempted to list down these “mega-trends” in the photography industry. I can identify at least 15 major trends which will provide fantastic opportunities to those who can willingly take advantage of such trends. There are also about 5 minor trends that anyone can ride on in this industry. All these provide windows of golden opportunity that goes beyond the obvious.

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