Archives for June 1, 2010

Now in the Imaging Executive: The recipe for a successful strategy workshop

Author and strategy expert Rich Horwath

In this month’s issue of the AIE Imaging Executive, author and business strategy expert Rich Horwath explains the “recipe for a successful strategy workshop.” An excerpt:

If you’ve ever enjoyed a good bowl of chili or suffered through eating a bad one, you know there are countless ways to make it. The one constant is a good recipe. The recipe provides direction on the ingredients and the step-by-step instructions. In a similar way, the strategy workshop provides a good recipe for our business. It combines the ingredients (people, data, and research) and the instructions (process, models, and frameworks) to cook up a winning strategy.

Unfortunately, when it comes to strategy workshops, the numbers can give us indigestion. Research by Harvard Business School has shown 85 percent of executive leadership teams spend less than one hour per month discussing strategy, with 50 percent spending no time on it at all. In addition, a study by the Economist Intelligence Unit showed only 11 percent of executives are highly satisfied with the strategy development programs of their organization.

A thoughtfully crafted and professionally facilitated strategy workshop can help you re-energize the business and jump-start morale.

Horwath says there are five steps to running a successful strategy workshop:

1. Determine the intent of the workshop.

2. Identify the participants.

3. Provide a pre-workshop strategy survey.

4. Prepare and focus the group.

5. Design the meeting framework.

Members of the Association of Imaging Executives can read the entire article, which includes the details behind these steps, here.

PMA announces PMA 2011 will be Sept. 8-10, 2011

Fall event kicks off key holiday promotional season for industry

PMA – The Worldwide Community of Imaging Associations, Jackson, Mich., announces the PMA 2011 Annual Convention and Trade Show will be Sept. 8-10, 2011, at the Las Vegas Convention Center, South Hall, Las Vegas, Nev. The PMA show is traditionally held in the first quarter, but changes in industry buying cycles and in technology developments made the new schedule advantageous.

“Based on input from key suppliers and trade groups, the PMA show is changing dates to better serve the photo industry,” says Ted Fox, executive director and CEO, PMA.

“Having the PMA 2011 show on the leading edge of the holiday season is the best opportunity to make critical buying decisions for the fourth quarter,” says Brian Wood, 2010-11 PMA International president.

“PMA member retailers and service providers can now use the largest annual photo imaging show and conference to find those new products and services that will make a holiday season successful,” explains Fox. “Also, world-class PMA convention education will provide the most up-to-date retail trends and market information.”

Fox notes today’s fast-paced business world means nimble retailers and service providers no longer need the long lead of a first-quarter event. Conversely, the fall show dates are ideal for those large chain stores that do place purchase orders long in advance.

“Fall makes great sense for the PMA show,” says Mike Worswick, co-owner of Wolfe’s Cameras, Camcorders & Computers, Topeka, Kan.; and president, Photographic Research Organization (PRO). “Specialty retailers are not ready to buy merchandise in February. Instead of viewing late spring products, retailers can nail down program details for holiday merchandise.”

“Most of our major vendors introduced new product lines twice each year, winter and fall,” says Richard Yagjian, executive vice president and COO, W.B. Hunt Co. Inc., Melrose, Mass. “A PMA annual show in the fall overcomes the problem of second-half product introductions coming to market without much fanfare. The industry would benefit.”

“The proximity of early September dates makes PMA 2011 the ideal kick-off for the holiday selling season,” says Fox. “The PMA show serves as the media showcase for the photo/imaging industry – generating thousands of blog posts, newspaper articles and YouTube videos – and moving the show to September highlights photography for the holidays. This includes new cameras and camcorders, but also the evolving photo publishing market, including photo books, cards, calendars and more.”

“From the independent specialty retailer’s point of view, I’m very pleased with this announcement,” says Brent Bowyer, executive director, Independent Photo Imagers (IPI), Henderson, Nev. “I welcome the opportunity to attend an early September educational event and trade show to be prepared for the huge holiday buying season. This is a fabulous idea.”

To build on the excitement of the photo/imaging category, the PMA 2011 show will be open to photo enthusiasts Saturday, Sept. 10.

“Our very successful Digital Life Expo, held each year in Australia, has shown the consumers’ appetite for hands-on photography experiences is considerable,” says Fox. “For the first time, enthusiast and hobbyist photographers can walk the show floor to see and to touch the latest cameras and imaging technology.”

PMA member associations — including the Digital Imaging Marketing Association (DIMA), Photo Imaging Education Association (PIEA), and Professional Picture Framers Association (PPFA) — will hold their customary conferences in conjunction with PMA 2011, Sept. 6-9.

Understanding the first-quarter time period is ideal for the school portrait and sports-and-event photo markets, PMA is considering a spring 2011 event for the Professional School Photographers Association International (PSPA) and Sports Photographers Association of America (SPAA). More details will be available after the leadership of these PMA member associations meet in the coming weeks.

“We are extremely confident PMA will fulfill our conference needs with a PSPA Convention co-locating with SPAA in the first-half of 2011,” says Ken Strawbridge, president, Strawbridge Studios and past president, PMA and PSPA. “I respect this decision, and think it will end up proving extremely positive for all segments of the photo imaging industry.”

“I give PMA a lot of credit for adapting its convention planning to its different segments of the industry,” says Tom Hayes, Visual Image Photography, Cedarburg, Wis. “We all have different buying cycles and varying convenient times to attend a convention. PMA recognizes this, and I am sure will fulfill all of our educational needs.”

Issues regarding future dates of international PMA events, that could be potentially affected by the change, like PMA Canada Expo, will be addressed at upcoming advisory committee meetings, according to Fox.

What’s hot right now? from PMA magazine

Retailers found some of the hottest products on the PMA 2010 trade show floor – and shared them at the Hot Picks Session

May/June issue of PMA Magazine - Connecting the Imaging Communities

The trade show floor at PMA 2010 in Anaheim, Calif., was bursting with exciting, money-making products. Seeking out some of the very best was a team of photo retailers tasked with finding and sharing the hottest products being exhibited. They presented their selections at the PMA 2010 Retailer Hot Picks Session on the final day of the show, presented here from the May/June issue of PMA Magazine – Connecting the Imaging Communities.

Moderator Bill McCurry of McCurry Associates, Princeton, N.J., began the session with a pick of his own: PMA+, an affordable, ready-made email newsletter marketing program available to PMA members.

“If you don’t have time to do email newsletters, PMA+ has them ready for you,” McCurry said. “They are well written and well done. You can send something to your customers every month to remind them you exist, they should take pictures, and they should come to you. Take a look at it – but only if you want customers to keep coming back to you.”

Following McCurry was Mike Worswick of Wolfe’s Cameras, Computers & Camcorders, Topeka Kan.

“The coolest thing I saw was a gadget called a Magic Wand Scanner from VuPoint.” About the size of a pen, users simply drag the wand across an image to scan it.

“It writes to a micro SD card, and then you can dump that file as a JPEG or some other format into your computer. Lots of consumers have old photo albums with magnetic pages and pictures semi-glued inside,” Worswick noted. With the Magic Wand Scanner, users can scan those stuck prints without destroying them.

Better yet, he noted, retailers can offer that as a service. “For customers who have pictures they want digitized or restored that are in some ancient family scrapbook and don’t want to come out, [the Magic Wand offers] both a product and a service opportunity,” he said.

Alan Logue of Hutt Street Photos in Adelaide, South Australia, chose the Easy Controller software from Noritsu.

“Three years ago, I spent a quarter of a million dollars on a Noritsu lab. Easy Controller software gives me another one for about $2,000 to $3,000. This provides another workstation, where I can replicate a workflow and print on the same machine,” Logue said. “So, I can have my lab working, and I can be working on a separate workstation doing other things. I can process RAW files, and do color profiling and more color management than what I can do in the existing Noritsu software. For the price, I think it’s an absolute steal.”

Logue also made a second Hot Pick – this one chosen by Steve Olock of Dan’s Camera City, Allentown, Pa., as well: Grace Pearlescent Drylab Photo paper, a metallic-like inkjet paper from Mitsubishi, being presented by Southpoint Photo Imaging Supplies Inc.

“We print on Kodak Metallic Paper, but we cannot do anything bigger than 12 inches on our Noritsu,” Logue said. “We outsource our larger metallic paper work to another lab, but I’d like to bring that capability in-store. It would give us more bang for the buck, and quicker turnaround on metallic. This inkjet metallic paper from Mitsubishi is not 100 percent the same as [Kodak] Metallic, but it’s close – and with it, we can offer almost a 1-hour turnaround on 24-by-36 metallic serv-ice.”

The Tensador II semi-automatic canvas stretcher system won the vote of Phil Gresham, Fotofast, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

“If you do canvas, you know a lot of time is spent stretching it. [The Tensador II] is such an easy and fast way of stretching canvas and, more important, stretching it evenly, so there are no wrinkles,” Gresham said. “It has just the right tension on it, and it’s so simple. It’s pretty cool; we’ll be ordering one of these.”

Tim Jones of Perfect Prints, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, selected the SteadePod from Cameron Products/West Coast Corp. To achieve a steady shot without a tri-pod or monopod, users simply attach it to a still or video camera, extend and anchor the foot pad, and pull to create a small amount of tension in the cable.

Jones summed up the SteadePod in two words: “Unique and profitable.”

Chosen by Gaby Mullinax of Fullerton Photographics Inc., Fullerton, Calif., as well as Bob Sager of Bob’s Camera and Video, Barre, Vt., and Allen Showalter of King Photo/Showalter Imaging Group, Harrisonburg, Va., were plug-ins from Topaz Labs.

“Topaz Labs has a plug-in for lots of different programs, such as Adobe Elements, Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture, and iPhoto,” Sager said. “It does things such as creative exposure adjustment, artwork, removes noise, sharpening, image extraction, and more. The demo was very impressive: you can do some-thing in 30 seconds that previously took 15 minutes.”

Showalter added plug-ins for both Mac and PC are on the same disc, and the whole suite is available for $129.

Photographers can thwart would-be camera thieves with Sun Sniper, chosen by Martin Wagner, Ringfoto GmbH & Co. Alfo Mktg KG, Fürth, Germany.

“It’s very easy to use this strap, and it has steel bound into it. You can’t cut it away or your knife would be damaged. It’s a very cool product – very fast and helpful for photogra-phers,” Wagner said.

Chris Lydle of Chris’ Camera Center and Digital Photo, Aiken, S.C., selected the To-CAD America Sunpak Ringlight.

“I love to sell ring lights because they’re profitable, but they are a pain in the neck to synchronize with the camera to make them fit the lens,” Lyle says. “This one doesn’t have to synchronize because it’s continuous, and it’s mounted on a snake so it doesn’t have to be mounted on a particular lens.”

Although he was unable to attend the session, Brian Noble of Noble’s Camera Shops, Hingham, Mass., chose FotoFusion software from LumaPix. FotoFusion Enhanced is an image layout environment de-signed for experienced scrapbookers and pho-tography enthusiasts, including artwork from leading scrapbooking companies. FotoFusion Extreme is an image layout environment allowing pros to create elegant and impressive wedding albums in minutes.

Frequent traveler Catharina Schorcht from Foto Schorcht GmbH, Gütersloh, Germa-ny, found a product that would make her life easier: the Universal Charger from PIXO Germany. “I picked it because you can charge all your batteries with your laptop or flat screen television,” Schorcht said. “When you travel a lot, it’s a great thing to take with you all the time.”

Mark Comon of Paul’s Photo Inc., Torrance, Calif., selected two products as his Hot Picks. First was the LowePro Passport Sling bag, which Comon said is “cool for a small DSLR outfit. It’s great for the family photographer, for the traveler, or for mom. It’s a different look – neat, easy, and fun.”

Along with Brian Ainsworth of Photos Ar’ Nice Inc., Gainesville, Fla., Comon also chose Hoodman Photo Frames. These frames aren’t for displaying prints, but for eyeglasses. Designed for spectacle-wearing photographers, these glasses have frames that flip up – so the photographer can lift the lens of the shooting eye and leave the lens down for the tracking eye. Hoodman Photo Frames come with clear glass that can be replaced with prescription lenses by the user’s optometrist.

Professional photographers who shoot with a Nikon will appreciate the selection of Martin Škoda, Centrum FotoŠkoda, Praha, Czech Republic: the Unleashed Barcode Edition from foolography GmbH.

“This is a module you can add to your Nikon camera. It can be synchronized with your barcode scanner, so you can scan the number, and the barcode will be stitched to the photo,” Skoda said. The Unleashed module connects wirelessly to a Bluetooth barcode reader; and whenever a barcode is scanned, it will be added to the EXIF data of all the following photos, until the next barcode is read. No computer and no cables are necessary, so it can be operated from a dis-tance.

Although Mark Oliver from Adanac Images, St. Mary’s, Ontario, Canada, was unable to attend the session, he chose Snapizzi as his Hot Pick. Snapizzi is a web-based business platform for school, sports, and event photo-graphers. It optimizes workflow, helps photographers grow their businesses, and provides extensive tracking and reports. Oliv-er particularly appreciated cost-effective options for online ordering.

Appealing to several retailers was the iaPeel printable skin for iPhones and similar gadgets – it got the vote of Michael St. Germain, Concord Camera Store, Concord, N.H.; Gabe Cano, Specialty Color Services, Santa Barbara, Calif.; Phil Rigby, Spectrum Imaging, Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom; and Paul Boniface, Scone Digital Imaging, Scone, New South Wales, Australia.

“There are several means of putting a skin on a phone or [gaming device]. What’s good about the iaPeel, though, is it has alignment tabs: tiny little fold-up bits of paper allowing it to go on straight and without a bubble,” Rigby said. “I think it’s cool. I’m taking some home, and I’m going to be selling them [right away]. I’m looking forward to it.”

Boniface added, “The iaPeel is a great thing to have on the counter. It will sell itself.”

Although Cano was among those who chose the iaPeel, he also presented two other products as his Hot Picks. One was the unique straps from Riley G Strapworks, a company that makes camera straps from leather car seats. Cano displayed straps made from seats of a Porsche and a Mercedes.

“They’re handmade, and they’re so beautiful,” Cano said. “We’re definitely going to be carrying these – they are right up our alley.”

Cano also chose sterling silver photo gifts from Planet Jill – products compelling enough to convince Cano to finally enter the photo gifting business.

“We’ve been very hesitant about photo gifting, because we hadn’t found anything that pulled our heartstrings – until yesterday, when we discovered the Planet Jill booth,” he said. “They have several different sterling silver photo gifts: jewelry, paper weights, and lots of guy stuff. They provide beautiful packaging for you. They’re very high quality.”

Jochen Strasser, Foto-Partner Strasser GmbH, Hamburg, Germany, and Margaret Remy, Quick Prints, Meridian, Miss., both named the Frame Wizard from Facecake as their Hot Pick. The Frame Wizard digital frame adds motion to a still image.

“I was flying down the aisle and I stopped dead still when I passed this booth,” Remy said. “There was a picture that was snowing. There were leaves falling in an autumn pic-ture. The software makes this digital frame recognize what’s in the picture. Babies will blink their eyes. The waves move in the ocean. You can customize it with mattes, and it works with numerous media and file types. It comes in 8 or 15 inches; and it’s a classy, very nice, high-end frame.”

The Zipshot Tripod from Tamrac caught the eye of Bill Eklund, Sharp One Hour Photo, Eau Claire, Wis. The Zipshot is only 15 inches long when folded, and weighs just 11 ounces. When opened, it “zips” into a 44-inch tripod.

“This is so cool, but you have to demonstrate it to your customers,” Eklund said. “It holds about 3 pounds and it’s great for a backpacker, but the neat thing is the demonstration. Once you show this to people, they’re going to buy it – and it has a good margin.”

Paul Atkins of Atkins Technicolour, Kent Town, South Australia, selected the Ecce Terram book design software. “I’ve never before seen photo book software that offers collaboration of five or six people at once. You can be online working in your book, and your friends can get on there too, at their same time,” Atkins said. “There’s a quick design wizard, and a fantastic template selection. If you want to pull out the clip art and just have very basic templates, you can do that as well.”

Particularly appealing to female photographers is the R-Strap from Black Rapid, named a Hot Pick by Lisa Otto of Banff Photography Foto Source, Banff, Alberta, Canada. The R-Strap crosses the torso in a manner comfortable for women – unlike many other straps, Otto said.

Caroll Ross of Foto Source (Reid’s), White Rock, British Columbia, Canada, selected photo wallpaper from HP.

“You can place photos on walls where they could not go before. We do a lot of wide for-mat printing now, and we have several artists in our town who would want their artwork on the wallpaper in their homes,” she said.

Catherine Logue of Hutt Street Photos, Adelaide, South Australia, chose web design from Dakis. “It’s seamless. I’m delighted with them,” she said. “They are going to do our photo store website, as well as the website for the training school I run.”

The Jellyfish Strap from Delkin Devices was the Hot Pick from Paul Comon of Paul’s Photo Inc., Torrance, Calif.

“It’s three straps attach to a floating ball so, if you drop it, it won’t sink. It’s ideal for cam-eras and water. It has a wrist strap that clips off, and you can put your underwater camera on another strap or in the waterproof pocket. You can also put your money, cell phone, and all kinds of other things into the pocket,” Comon said. “This is a very fun product to sell – and it even has a bottle opener in it.”

Peter Michael of Michaels Camera Video Digital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, chose PMA+ and membership in Independent Photo Imagers (IPI) as his Hot Picks.

“We sell cameras mainly, but our services and our lab are what we want to concentrate on – so I joined IPI yesterday. There are lots and lots of benefits, as well as discounts and networking,” he said. “We also joined the PMA+ program. We want to get the maxi-mum output for the least work; and with PMA+, the work is done already. It’s very simple to use.”

The Hot Picks

• PMA+, PMA, chosen by Bill McCurry, McCurry Associates; and Peter Michael, Michaels Camera & Video.

• Independent Photo Imagers (IPI), chosen by Peter Michael.

• Magic Wand, VuPoint Solutions, chosen by Mike Worswick, Wolfe’s Cameras, Camcorders & Computers.

• Easy Controller, Noritsu, chosen by Alan Logue, Hutt Street Photos.

• Grace Pearlescent Drylab Photo paper from Mitsubishi Imaging, exhibited by Southpoint Photo Imaging Supplies, chosen by Alan Logue and Steve Olock, Dan’s Camera City.

Tensador II, chosen by Phil Gresham, Fotofast.

• SteadePod, Cameron Products/West Coast Corp., chosen by Tim Jones, Perfect Prints.

• Plug-ins for image editing software, Topaz Labs, chosen by Gaby Mullinax, Fullerton Photographics Inc.; Bob Sager, Bob’s Camera and Video; and Allen Showalter, King Photo/Showalter Imaging Group.

Sun Sniper Steel camera strap, chosen by Martin Wagner, Ringfoto GmbH & Co. Alfo Mktg KG.

ToCAD Sunpak Ring Light, chosen by Chris Lydle, Chris’ Camera Center and Digital Photo.

• FotoFusion software, LumaPix, chosen by Brian Noble, Noble’s Camera Shops.

• Universal Charger, PIXO Germany, chosen by Catharina Schorcht, Foto Schorcht GmbH.

LowePro Passport Sling bag, chosen by Mark Comon, Paul’s Photo Inc.

Hoodman USA PhotoFrames, chosen by Mark Comon and Brian Ainsworth, Photos Ar’ Nice.

• Unleashed Barcode Edition, foolography, chosen by Martin Škoda, Centrum Foto-Škoda.

Snapizzi, chosen by Mark Oliver, Adanac Images of Ontario Ltd.

iaPeel , chosen by Michael St. Germain, Concord Camera Store; Gabe Cano, Specialty Color Services; Phil Rigby, Spectrum Imaging; and Paul Boniface, Scone Digital Imaging.

• Leather camera straps, Riley G Strapworks, chosen by Gabe Cano.

• Sterling silver photo gifting items, Planet Jill, chosen by Gabe Cano.

• Zipshot Tripod, Tamrac, chosen by Bill Eklund, Sharp One Hour Photo; and Tor Weatherstone, Scandinavian Photo Consult.

• Photo book design software, Ecce Terram, chosen by Paul Atkins, Atkins Technicolour.

• Frame Wizard, Facecake, chosen by Jochen Strasser, Foto Partner Strasser GmbH; and Margaret Remy, Quick Prints.

• R-Strap, Black Rapid, chosen by Lisa Otto, Banff Photography Foto Source.

• Custom printed wallpaper, HP, chosen by Caroll Ross, Foto Source (Reid’s).

• Website design, Dakis, chosen by Catherine Logue, Hutt Street Photos.

• Jellyfish strap, Delkin Devices, chosen by Paul Comon, Paul’s Photo Inc.

SanDisk doubles capacity of SSD product lines

SanDisk Corp., Milpitas, Calif., introduced its latest solid state drive (SSD) products. The SanDisk SSD G4 serves as a drop-in replacement for hard disk drives (HDD) in notebooks; while the SanDisk SSD P4, the successor to the widely used pSSD modular drive, enables designers to offer even thinner netbook and tablet computers.

The new drives offer a unique balance of performance, high-capacity storage and long-term reliability. SanDisk SSD P4 and SanDisk SSD G4 offer up to 128 gigabytes (GB) and 256GB of storage respectively, double the capacities of the company’s previous SSD offerings. The drives are available in various compact form factors, which SanDisk can customize according to manufacturers’ specification, offering greater freedom and flexibility in how OEMs design their products. The SSDs use SanDisk’s advanced 32-nanometer (nm) multi-level cell (MLC) process technology, which enables cost-competitive high-capacity storage with a tiny footprint.

The SanDisk SSD G4 and SanDisk SSD P4 are currently being evaluated by top tier OEMs. High-volume production of the drives is expected in the Q3 2010 timeframe with product available to OEMs at that time; pricing will depend on the quantity ordered.

OfficeMax now offering Kodak AiO printers

KodakEastman Kodak Co., Rochester, N.Y., announces office supply retailer OfficeMax, Naperville, Ill., is now selling Kodak AiO Inkjet printers and inks, including the new Kodak ESP Office 6150 All-in-One Printer, in nearly 900 retail locations throughout the United States, as well as through its online store. The agreement marks the first time OfficeMax will carry Kodak AiO Printers, which Kodak says offer the lowest total ink replacement cost in the industry.

OfficeMax is currently carrying three models of Kodak AiO Inkjet Printers: the Kodak ESP 5250 Printer, Kodak ESP Office 6150 Printer, and Kodak ESP 7250 Printer. OfficeMax stores now offer the complete Kodak home printing solution, which includes printers, ink, and photo paper.