Over the years the major changes have been the huge expansion by mass merchandisers into the minilab business. Wal-Mart under the extraordinary foresight of Dave Rogers, pushed the envelope on the minilab business. Walgreens stepped up its expansion and is a major player along with CVS.
The major force in the camera store channel is Ritz Camera. David Ritz continues to drive his minilab business in spite of very strong pricing competition.
Many things have changed, but one major item hasn't. The need to stay current with technology, continually marketing your services in new ways, and keeping current on competition—in and out of the photo industry. Go back to '78 when non-photo entrepreneurs caught all of us by surprise. It took awhile, but eventually traditional photo got their act together and the minilab business flourished. Sometimes things change, but the basics remain.
The Envelope Please
By Mary Jane Hellyar, President, Film & Photofinishing Systems Group, Senior VP, Eastman Kodak Co.
Both as a technologist and more recently as a business manager, I've been fortunate to have played a "hands on" role in much of the change we've seen in the imaging industry over the past 25 years.
From my perspective, our efforts have always been aimed toward one goal of giving consumers and professionals the best "out of the envelope" experience possible. Traditionally, when a consumer opens her envelope of pictures, she is at the emotional peak in the entire photographic experience. Our work as scientists and marketers is aimed at giving her products and services to make it easier to take and make great pictures, but that work culminates when she first sees her pictures and holds the prints in her hands. It's that moment of delight that reminds me that we work in a great industry.
In the early years of my career, the focus was on the traditional photo system. Exploring all components of the system from films to papers and chemistry to create the best possible picture quality. We worked to improve film speed, image structure, color accuracy and detail—creating products and services to give people pictures that were noticeably better year over year.
Decades of research and innovation gave consumers and professionals dependable products they could trust. When they loaded their camera with Kodak film, they were certain of the end result. Our industry's commitment to serving the needs of the end customer with innovative products and services has built the foundation for today's era of digital imaging. Fast-paced change will continue. Features and services we haven't even thought of will become the norm and our industry will remain great!
Edward Fasano, GM, Marketing, SLR System Products, Nikon Inc.
I've been in the industry for 30 of the 70 years is celebrating. Over that time, I've been witness to the same milestones as my peers. Apart from the little fact that our long-time friend, silver halide film is now a format largely reserved for fine-arts, select professionals, and purists, more things may have stayed the same than they have changed. Over a long enough period of time, it's arguable that things can be better viewed as cyclical.
Long ago, I participated in the robust and profitable darkroom segment of our business. Passionate photographers loved laboring in their darkrooms, exiting after long hours with enlargements in hand and a sense of immense pride. Now, the same process takes place—only the tools have changed. With a computer and sophisticated software, the same passionate photographers emerge from the den with beautiful enlargements and that same sense of pride. Thankfully, today's hours of dedicated image processing can be done with the lights on! One thing that hasn't changed is the passion.
Like anyone who's been in this business for years, I've been fortunate come to know a great many intelligent, engaging, inventive, resourceful, and energetic people. A list of these would, as a result of my inadequacies, fail to do justice to those I've had the privilege to know. However, the man with whom my photographic career began could be accused of possessing all the aforementioned positive traits and more. What sets him apart and gives me reason to include him here is the fact that he was such a doggone character. Anyone in the industry who knew Charlie Satter will know what I mean.
70 Years of PTN
A Chat with Bill McCurry, Industry Consultant
We caught up with Bill McCurry at the recent CES, and were able to get his thoughts on our industry's growth, changes and potential.