What Professional Photographers Can Learn From Kodak

To cut right to the point, Kodak

The logo from 1987 to 2006. "Evolution of...
The logo from 1987 to 2006. “Evolution of our brand logo”. Eastman Kodak . . Retrieved 2007-09-26 . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

found out that “quality” wasn’t necessarily what the public wanted.  In Seth Godin’s blog today, “Misunderstanding quality”, he states:

“It turns out that what people actually wanted was the ability to take and share billions of photos at vanishingly small cost. The ‘quality’ that most of the customer base wanted was cheap and easy, not museum quality.”

He goes on to say:

“Quality is not an absolute measure”

Before you shoot me, or Godin, stop and think about the world we live in where we are bombarded by millions of images daily.  Some are great, some mediocre and some are really bad in terms of quality.  Add to that the millions of videos on You Tube and we are witnessing an avalanche of imagery.  It makes my eyes glaze over and my head hurt just to think about it, let alone try to digest it all. But the fact is that we have become a culture where imagery is quickly replacing text to communicate.

So, with imagery becoming so prolific in terms of how we communicate, why are so many professional photographers struggling or going the way of Kodak and Polaroid?  Because they assume that the general public wants quality images.  Quite honestly I wonder if most people these days even notice the difference. Like Seth says, they just want to take photos and share them with their friends. Ironically, companies like Kodak, Polaroid, and other camera manufacturers, along with the ever-growing supply of electronic platforms enable us to do this easily and cheaply.

So how does a “professional” photographer compete in a culture that doesn’t always appreciate or need quality imagery?  Two suggestions – recognize what the market wants and is willing to pay for and produce something that is unique and authentic to whom you are.  Oh, and one more thing – don’t whine about the state of the industry because it won’t do you any good.  Instead, of looking in the rear view mirror and lamenting the past, embrace the opportunities that technology has brought to our craft and prosper. And remember that “change” is inevitable, so stop resisting it.

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