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Wednesday June 28th 2017

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PMA Responds to Bloomberg Business Article by Celebrating Rebirth of Photo Printing

pmalogoBloomberg Business recently published an article about the demise of the photo shop and prints. Especially as we celebrate National Photo Month, it is critical that the photo industry be accurately represented in the media. Photo Marketing Association International CEO Georgia McCabe submitted the following Letter to the Editor in response. It’s a thoughtful explanation of how the state of photography today fits in the historical context and is an insightful analysis of how photo printing is undergoing a rebirth.

Dear Editor,

Bloomberg Business posted Twilight of One-Hour Photo, America’s Fastest-Fading Business on April 30th about the demise of the one-hour photo store. It’s an interesting perspective on change, but a misrepresentation of what is evolving in mass market photography, technology and product innovation, and photo output retailing.

The author presents a contextually accurate history of the peak of the film era in photography (facts are inaccurate, but the storyline is not). She points out that retail stores that specialized in film processing have rapidly disappeared as consumers quickly adopted digital cameras and, more importantly, smartphones. The result, of course, was that demand for bags of 4×6 prints from film has declined precipitously. What the article implies is “end of story,” “print is dead.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

We are living at a time during which mass market photography has gone from the occasional (8-10 times per year) purchase of a roll of film and a bag of prints, for those with the means, to an ever-present part of the lives of virtually every adult on the planet.  Photo is central to the business models of the new titans of enterprise (Facebook, Google, Apple, Yahoo, Microsoft, Amazon, etc.).  As consumers we capture with ease and no cost, share instantly with family, friends and the world, edit creatively as we choose, with ease, (increasingly and importantly) save and organize our precious photos in the cloud, and create and order fabulous new products from online retailers – and yes, tens of thousands of traditional brick and mortar photo retailers.

Photo printing is far from dead. It is staging an exciting rebirth, born on crests of both product and manufacturing innovation, mobile technology advances (including cameraphones with extraordinary capabilities), software innovations that connect us instantly and intuitively with “create and order” capabilities instantly from our connected devices to meaningful product solutions from scores of retailers, online and in-store. Every day innovation is at work to address a single important fact – printed photo output matters to all of us.  Not the bag of prints that were our only way to preserve our story and share, but the exciting and valuable new products that tell and preserve our stories in richer, more personalized fashion. The end of film processing is hardly the end of the photo print story. It was simply an important chapter in our continuing effort to preserve and share what’s most important.

Georgia McCabe
CEO, Photo Marketing Association International
www.pmai.org