With the new year approaching, it's always important to do a little self reflection, that's why we asked our readers what trends they saw emerge over 2007 that impacted their store or lab. From photobooks to DSLRs to scrapbooking to an increasing big box store presence, there have been both highls and lows that directly affected the way our readers have been doing business...
a. Interest in DSLR's is surging! While flat for us in the summer, early fall brought brisk sales in this category and at all price levels. Nikon is our primary partner, and together, we are working to take the Photo Specialty Store segment of the market in Central NH. Growth in this segment will lead consumers back to the specialty stores as big box retailers can not serve the needs of these customers because it is not cost effective for them to do so. For those of us who have made it through the leaner times, better times may be ahead for our channel.
Grant P. Hatch, Owner
Wolfeboro & N.Conway, NH
a. 2007 brought a pretty sizable increase in digital orders over film. Customers that used to drop off a half dozen rolls of film now belly up to the kiosk with their digital camera. Our customers have been embracing digital, from the teenagers to senior citizens. While film will never truly die, digital has become a far more crucial part of the business. When a kiosk is down or in use, my customers get upset. They've come to be accustomed to having prints on demand, when they want it and within a half hour or less. I expect to see digital far more than film in 2008, especially as prices go down and holiday specials make good digital cameras even more attractive.
Dominc Cheski, Photo Lab Specialist
a. It's a digital world now, but people still like to have a professional photograph of the important stages in life. I took my Dad's negative file from 1948 to 1992 and scanned them. Even 5x7 glass plate negatives scan well with excellent sharpness. My Dad had a file system in which you could look at a negative in less than five minutes. When he died in 2005 after 58 years in photography, we began to sell and scan negatives for people. We had 5x7 glass plates taken of our studio in 1907 by the builder of the building. My dad went from Crown graphics for his first wedding to Koni Omega to RB 67 to Digital. Photography is in constant change.
Charles L. Switzer, Owner
a. Scrapbooking is a big wave, and its impact is both good and bad. The scrapbooking moms want pictures of their children, which is always good but the bad side is they then copy them and/or buy smaller prints to use in the making of family scrapbooks. The Brides that are into scrapbooking are no longer looking for albums and album packages, but want access to or full rights of their wedding images so that they can print what they need. As a wedding photographer, I have started offering wedding packages that only offer files and or small prints, i.e. 4x6 prints instead of traditional print packages and/or album packages.
Another area that we are exploring in the scrapbooking trend is doing high-end, full page, 12x12, scanning and archival printing of scrapbook pages. We can scan a page that took the maker several hours and in some cases large amounts of money to make, and print a full size 12x12 in a fraction of time and with a fraction of the page cost. We have just started this offering and expect to see a big jump in sales this winter during the cold dreary months when everyone is working on scrapbooks from this past summer.
Another trend we have seen is publishing coffee table books from non-traditional printers and album makers. Some are not so good but others are quite good and cheaper than what has been offered in album making. It makes a great statement to offer the family a copy of a bound book of a wedding or a family trip, and make it so everyone can have access to a hard bound, well printed book at a reasonable cost.
Charles Fisher/ owner-photographer
Complete Photographic Magic LLC,
Overland Park, KS
a. The major trend I have seen is a continuation of less film usage, even though usage by amateurs is up. Also, any consistent volume of digital 4x6 prints is still hard to predict. Some days we have plenty and other days nothing. Educating consumers about the need to back up their files, still seems to be the number one problem, and encouraging them to at least make a 4x6 print so they have a back up, is integral.
Mike Vordo, Owner
a. We have seen a massive trend specifically in this calendar year: victims of petty crimes are fed up, and they are determined to use hidden surveillance and night vision cameras not as deterrents-and not for traditional passive security-but in fact to covertly catch perpetrators in the act. This year the vast percentage of our camera sales have gone toward this purpose. Before 2007 the percentage of cameras purchased for this purpose was very small. The result of this trend has been a significant increase in sales for arguably some of our most profitable items, hidden/wireless and night-vision infrared video cameras.
Mark Perea, President & CEO
International Spy Stores, LLC
a. We are a fine-art reproduction business and the fact that the housing market has taken a nose dive in our area has had a direct correlation to the amount of fine-art reproduction we do. In short, folks aren't buying big prints if they aren't building McMansions with bare walls that need to be adorned. Our sales have been down about 25% over the past year which is very similar to the decrease in new home sales in our area.
John Howard, Co-owner
FotoTechnika Fine Art Imaging
a. My biggest issue is the cost of quality photographic inks. They seem to be forever on the rise. I keep hearing about great quality, but I never hear about the price of ink going down.
Tom Fridmann, Owner
a. “With the decrease of film being processed in the lab we find it necessary to find new and better ways to do digital printing. It has also become important that when offering digital services that we stress the fact that you need to burn your images to CDs or DVDs to have the same possibilities for future printing of the same images. More and more these days, people are not printing at all, buying bigger media cards to store more images, and not even downloading them into the computer. This brings up a whole other set of problems when some family members delete the pictures before the were put onto a CD or downloaded into their computer. So we found it necessary to have an image recovery service available to our customers when such issues happen.