Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
November 25, 2009 7:17 PM

Picture This

There is lots of discussion around how certain companies have adapted to the digitization of their industry. From music and movies to books and newspapers. One industry that's equally as fascinating is photography.

Let's begin with two disclosures:

  1. I'm not much of a "picture guy". I have a camera (both for photos and videos), but I'm definitely not a shutterbug (unless you count having an expired pro account at Flickr as a shutterbug).
  2. My agency, Twist Image, works with Fujifilm.

Taking pictures is a big deal. In fact, it's still a huge deal.

The shifts in the photography industry have been astounding. Even if you can look beyond the reality that many people now take photos (lots of them) with their mobile devices (iPhone, Blackberry, etc...) and can instantly publish them online (look no further than how amazingly photos integrate into Twitter with TwitPic), it's much more about the whole way in which we take pictures that has changed so dramatically.

No more waiting for the perfect shot. No more waiting for the film to be developed.

Talk about an industry that has always been in flux and change. If it wasn't the first versions of the Polaroid camera, then the entry of the digital camera was certainly not just a game changer but a culture shifter. Without the added fear of development and printing costs, photographers can now take thousands of shots, rifle through them (either on the viewer or on a computer), discard the ones that aren't right and then tweak and fix those that they like with some fairly basic and easy-to-use software. It's remarkable to think that almost every step in the old photography food chain has been not only digitized but rounded down to the point where one person can do all of the tasks (though there's no accounting for always using the right professionals as needed).

People are taking more pictures than ever before.

Consider this stat from Facebook: "More than 2 billion photos uploaded to the site each month." And, that's just Facebook.

Cameras are also changing.

What really inspired this Blog post was a supplement in my daily newspaper (yes, I still read printed newspapers) titled, Digital Photography. Just looking at all of the advancements to the camera itself is staggering. Beyond the iPhone-like touchscreens, digital cameras now have:

  • SD memory cards with built in wi-fi that can transfer the photos without plugging in the camera to a computer.
  • Cameras with screens on both the front and back, so you can take pictures of yourself (and see what you're shooting).
  • Cameras with built-in projectors that will show your pictures (up to 50 inches) on any clear surface.
  • Cameras that take 3-D pictures (no glasses required).
  • Cameras that will produce a panoramic photo by sweeping the camera across the desired direction.

It's some pretty cool stuff, and we're not even looking at newer inventions like handheld HD video cameras (like the Flip Video) that take pictures as well, or all of the amazing innovation in printing, software to optimize and organize your photos, digital frames, and the many online tools and social networks to share and connect. It's an industry that should be proud of their innovation along with how much more fun they are making their products.

It's somewhat surprising and a little bit curious that there's not more conversation around the photography industry, especially if we still all believe that "a picture is worth a thousand words."

By Mitch Joel