On the DIMAcast: What The Big Photo Show means for you

New DIMAcast 2.0 logo

New DIMAcast 2.0 logoOn May 17-18, 2014, The Big Photo Show is returning to Los Angeles, where the inaugural event in this new series of consumer-facing photography shows was held last year. On this episode of the DIMAcast, two of the people behind The Big Photo Show, Melissa Aldrich and Jim Esp of PMA, explain why this event is important to anyone who does business in the Los Angeles area – and to the entire imaging industry as whole. Discover what this event has to offer, and where it will go from here.

Listen in at www.DIMAcast.com, or use the on-site player below.

March/April issue of PMA Magazine is here

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MarApr2014_Cover_250x328The March/April issue of PMA Magazine – Connecting the Imaging Communities is live and online! I want to make sure you don’t miss any of the great content in this issue, including coverage of  sessions, events and news from 2014 PMA@CES and the PMA 2014 Conferences. You will also get to know the 2014-2015 PMA President, Bill Eklund of Sharp Photo & Portrait through a new Q&A article, and learn the fascinating story behind Segall-Majestic, now part of Lifetouch, as told by PMA 2014 Hall of Famer John Segall. Also included is more about the upcoming Big Photo Show this May in Los Angeles, and this September in Chicago.

Also in this issue:

2015 PMA@CES returns to the Las Vegas Convention Center

• Coverage of the 2014 PMA@CES Official Business Sessions

• New camera technologies that will drive sales this year

• How Samsung is advancing sensors and optics

• A look at life and the photo business in Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia

• What color management pioneer Don Hutcheson says about “perfect” prints

On the DIMAcast: PMA 2014 Hall of Fame Award recipient John Segall

New DIMAcast 2.0 logo

New DIMAcast 2.0 logoDuring 2014 PMA@CES in January, John Segall, formerly Vice President of Business Development and now a consultant of Lifetouch, received the PMA Hall of Fame award, PMA’s highest honor, which is bestowed in recognition of extraordinary service to the imaging industry. On this episode of the DIMAcast, John shares the remarkable account of his family’s history, how his business got its start and how his company grew to become an extraordinary success. Listen in to his fascinating story, and hear John’s advice for a successful future in the imaging industry, at www.dimacast.com or by using the player below.

PPFA announces winners of International Framing Competition

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PPFA_RGB_150The Professional Picture Framers Association (PPFA) — a PMA member association — held its International OPEN and PRINT Framing Competition during the PPFA 2014 annual convention held concurrently with the West Coast Art & Frame Show at Bally’s & Paris hotels in Las Vegas, Nev. The International competition is the grand finale of PPFA Chapter level competitions.

Entries were displayed at the entrance to the WCAF Expo, where viewers could vote for Popular Choice.

Winners were announced January 19, at a PPFA “Competition Celebration” sponsored by Tru Vue; Popular Choice Awards, sponsored by Picture Framing Magazine, were announced January 22 during the Framers Corner “Ask The Expert” discussion.

The winning piece in the OPEN competition comprised photos of  workmates at a coal mine company and a specially made case containing a mine safety lamp, presented to a coal miner’s widow. The First Place piece was framed by Trevor Yates, CPF, and Jenny Yates, Just Frame It, Gladstone, Australia, who also won a Judges Award sponsored bLarson Juhl for Shadowbox Design & Execution.

Other winners in OPEN were:

Second Place: Bonnie Detering, Art Incorporated, San Antonio, Texas

Third Place: Russ Wood, Grey Owl Framing, Lakewood, Colo.

High Point First Time Entry: Aaron Machado, Modesto, Calif.

Honorable Mention: Mike Bettmann, CPF,Colorado Frame Company Lakewood, Lakewood, Colo.

Judges Award sponsored by FrameReady by SoftTouch Solutions, for Imagination, Artistic Design, Creativity & Presentation: Micah Paul Bolton, Micah Paul Creative, Pine Grove, Calif. Bolton also took the Popular Choice Award, sponsored by Picture Framing Magazine.

In the PRINT category, all participants framed the same Hmong “Flower Cloth” needlework piece by artist Nhia Lo. The winners are:

First Place: Bonnie Detering, Art Incorporated, San Antonio, Texas

Second Place: Alan Abeyta, CPF, Framin’ Works, Phoenix, Ariz.

Third Place: Boris Smorodinsky & Jay Gallo, Striving Artists, Chatsworth, Calif.

1st Honorable Mention: Glenn Renick, Fastframe of Lakeville, Lakeville, Minn.

2nd Honorable Mention: Mike Kadlec, Woodland Art, Faribault, Minn.

3rd Honorable Mention: Trevor Yates, CPF, and Jenny Yates, Just Frame It, Queensland, Australia

Berkman Award, sponsored by PPFA, for Fine Handcrafted Frame & Simplicity of Design: David Greene, CPF, Alley Cat Arts, Portland, Ore.

Judges Award, sponsored by Vermont Hardwoods, for Hand Crafted Frame and Liner: Glenn Renick, Fastframe of Lakeville, Lakeville, Minn.

Judges Award, sponsored by  Frank’s Fabrics, for Best Use of Fabric: Mark Wallenfang, Shooting Star Photo & Custom Framing, Appleton, Wis. Wallenfang also won High Point First Time Entry and Popular Choice Award, sponsored by Picture Framing Magazine.

 Judging was held January 18 at the Paris hotel. Fran Gray, MCPF, served as head judge in the International OPEN Competition; with judges Ken Link, CPF; Marianne Pruitt, CPF; and secretary Sarah Adams, CPF. Joyce Michels, MCPF, served as head judge in the International PRINT Competition, with judges Robin Gentry, MCPF, Sarah Beckett, MCPF, and secretary Linda Pujo, MCPF.

The PPFA Competition Board is chaired by Linda Pujo, MCPF; with Linda Wassell, MCPF, and Fred Horton, MCPF.

Images of the winning pieces will be posted shortly at ppfa.com.

MMIE: What DIMA idea worked instantly? (Continued from the DIMAcast)

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MIME Logo PMANMcCurry Marketing Idea Exchange #533 – January 14, 2014

In a first for both the MMIE and the DIMAcast, here we present “the rest of the story,” the first part of which you can hear at www.dimacast.com, or by using the player below. Now, on to part two, in today’s MMIE…

What DIMA Idea Worked Instantly?

An hour after Bill McCurry’s DIMA session last week at the 2014 PMA Conferences, Mike Dobson, Sales and Operations Manager of Mike’s Camera, based in Boulder, Colo., comes up to Bill McCurry with his phone . . .

During the live session the suggestions were made to:

  1. Thank customers who put up positive posts
  2. Respond as close to instantly as humanly possible to all posts

Mike Dobson has his Yelp and other social media accounts set to automatically ping him whenever anything is posted that impacts Mike’s Camera.

Here’s the post Mike got minutes after walking out of the DIMA session:

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Mike responded to Peggy 29 minutes after her post:

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Peggy responded to Mike 4 minutes later.

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Mike responded with more warm feelings and a “keep in touch” salutation:

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What you see above are ‘private’ messages within the Yelp system. Mike says every retailer should “own their own name.” He says retailers should own their Yelp and Google pages. This gives the retailers the potential to instantly receive notice of posts, makes it easier to clear off any spurious postings and be more in control of your on line personality.

Mike believes Yelp is trying to clear out the fraudulent posts. He has had good success in convincing Yelp to take down or reduce improper postings.

Here’s how the final posting is now showing up on Yelp!

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You can hear parts of this discussion “live from PMA@CES in Las Vegas” on the DIMAcast – DIMAcast 373, 13 January 2014.

Hey! What’s your idea?

• Got a promotion that worked? An idea generated by a staffer? Something that’s exciting and/or motivating the crew? Doing something that’s bringing customers in, got customers buzzing, got them buying? Tell us.

• We’d appreciate getting pictures to help illustrate the ideas.

• Send your ideas to editor@McCurryAssoc.com.

• Don’t worry if you’re not the best writer; we’ll be happy to tidy things up for you.

• The archived editions of the McCurry Marketing Ideas Exchange contain more than 1,000 marketing ideas as a resource for you: http://www.TinyURL.com/McCurryIdeas.

On the DIMAcast: Almost “live” from PMA — Turn an angry customer into an ambassador

New DIMAcast 2.0 logo

New DIMAcast 2.0 logoThis is a first for the DIMAcast! Tune in today, Jan. 13, to hear the first part of this story… then, see the MMIE (McCurry Marketing Idea Exchange) in PMA Newsline tomorrow, Jan. 14, for the rest.  In this episode, coming to you “almost live” (thanks to our host Brian Mundy for the fast work) from the 2014 PMA Conferences last week in Las Vegas:

What happens when you don’t deliver on customer expectations? Or when the customer believes something different should have happened? You can lose a customer — or, you can learn ways to not only keep their patronage, but also make them into “Ardent Ambassadors.” The DIMA audience discussed how to do this both in-store and online last week during the DIMA sessions of the 2014 PMA Conferences. Listen in to some of their suggestions on this week’s Marketing Idea Exchange DIMAcast with Bill McCurry. You’ll hear how to turnaround negative on-line postings.  Listen to the podcast by using the on-site player below, or at www.dimacast.com, where you can also download the transcript, which includes the actual customer posts on Yelp and other sites. The customer you save can be your best ambassador.

2014 PMA@CES: The Power of Collaboration

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We’ve all heard the problem with selling photo books: they can take a long time to make, and customers often abandon their project before completing a design and ordering a book printed.

At their PMA@CES session “The Power of Collaboration,” Ecce Terram’s Frank Simon and Jay Hitchens presented an obvious-in-retrospect partial solution to the issue: when a customer does spend the time to complete a book, get them to share their completed books online with friends and family. Those people can then change the cover shot and a few other items, and have a custom book of their own in just a fraction of the time. “Once the first customer makes a book and shares it, others can do only a few minutes work to customize their own personal version,” Simon said.

frank simon

He also talked about the Germany-based company’s new Living Albums service, which “uses smart phones for long-form story telling.” It’s a free subscription service in which more than one person shares photos around a subject such as an event, family, or business. The service makes regular online albums automatically, and can be set to also print and mail photo books on a recurring basis.

In an opening historical overview, Hitchens noted that while film consumers did not have to think about much — prints were easy to get and mail — being creative was very tough, requiring either lots of time with scissors and glue, or hiring an expensive professional. “Now all those things are very simple,” he said, “but the consumer has to be involved throughout.”

He also talked about the big changes the business has faced with mobile and social imaging, noting Facebook now has 219 billion photos stored online, Flickr has 6 billion, while the entire Library of Congress has only 13 million. He showed a photo of a US astronaut who “went to the Moon and took only five photos” (and did not know if they came out until he returned to Earth) and a shot of teenage girl who “went to the bathroom took 37 photos.” Looking at the news photo of the crowd at the recent papal inaugural all holding up their phones, he said that it’s no longer about capturing a particular image, but rather about the memories stored (and perhaps the simple memory trigger of looking at a shot and knowing “that’s my photo and I remember taking it.”)

Seeing Perfectly Clear

Ecce Terram also announced a new partnership with Canada-based Athentech Imaging. They will integrate the tronPDF format for print-based products into Athentech’s Perfectly Clear Lab solution. “The addition of tronPDF enables more robust image correction of PDF files by accurately identifying and separating out real photographs that need image correction and backgrounds, text, and other info that doesn’t,” the companies say. “By reducing false positives, labs will save both time and money.”
Ecce Terram says users of its Photo2lab software processed more than 240 million photos, and 500,000 photo books and photo calendars in 2012.

 

Top imaging technology trends revealed at 2014 PMA@CES session

Captured Dimensions uses an array of 60 SLRs to capture every angle of a person simultaneously
Captured Dimensions uses an array of 60 SLRs to capture every angle of a person simultaneously

Captured Dimensions uses an array of 60 SLRs to capture every angle of a person simultaneously

Imaging advances are unabated – there are always new technologies coming out of labs and universities, said imaging analyst and consultant, and PMA Magazine Senior Editor Paul Worthington. “Phones lead the capture business. The camera is still just a capture device — but photography is everything else too — capture, share enhance and display. The smartphone is the first full photography device that allows you to do all of this. With a smart phone, everyone has a complete photography device with them all the time.”

Camera sales aren’t great — but they are still selling. SLR sales are improving after a big boom, while the overall camera market is declining. CIPA says camera sales are currently a mere 60 percent of what they were last year.

Sales are declining now because in the beginning of the digital transition, every year the new cameras that came along were so much better than the one you bought last year. Today, the camera you bought two years ago is still really good, and manufacturers are not giving us compelling reasons to buy a new one. There are, however, some new models that stand out, like the Canon 70D, the Olympus OMD E-M1, and the Samsung Galaxy 2.

Paul also talked about many other imaging innovations. Among them were Samsung’s Isocell advanced pixel technology, which substantially increases light sensitivity and effectively controls the absorption of electrons, resulting in higher color fidelity even in poor lighting conditions. Fujifilm and Panasonic developed an organic CMOS technology that will harvest all the light received on the sensor. Rambus is promising fast HDR and better low-light imaging — and says its binary pixel handles both with a single exposure. New imaging technology developed at MIT captures 3D images with only one photon per pixel — and could be used in medical imaging, collision-avoidance detectors for cars, and interactive gaming.

In addition, researchers have found zooming in on the pupil of a subject’s eye reveals hidden bystanders – this means the pupil of the eye in a photograph of a face can be mined for hidden information, such as reflected faces of the photographer and bystanders. Researchers “were able to recover bystander images that could be identified accurately by observers, despite their low resolution.”

Intelligent imaging — including scene detection, scene recognition, face detection, facial recognition, GPS location data, augmented reality, and computational photography — can boost capture and post capture usage and enjoyment, which is needed as more and more pictures are captured all the time.

We are already being photographed, largely unbeknownst to us, by cameras around us in our environment many times a day. Soon, we will all be on camera all the time. One reason for that is new wearable cameras, such as Memoto’s Tiny, a postage-stamp size camera that snaps a 5-megapixel shot every 30 seconds, with GPS position and time stamped into the metadata. Worn on the user, it captures every instance from a first-person point of view, recording each moment as you see it. The problems with this, Paul pointed out, are a complete lack of creative control, and the inability to be in any of your own pictures. That latter issue is solved by the MeCam Helicopter by Always Innovating, a camera that flies around, following everywhere you go, taking pictures of you and whatever you’re doing.

Google Glass allows wearers to simply wink to take a picture, and mannequins can now be equipped with eyeball cameras.

“We will soon be watched all the time,” Paul said. Creepy? You bet. Bet there is an upside. When Rialto, Calif. police began wearing cameras in their sunglasses to monitor all interactions with the public, the number of complaints to the department dropped by 88 percent, and the instances of police using “force” on people dropped by 60 percent.

Back to creepy… Research shows laptop webcams can spy on their users without warning, according to The Washington Post. The newspaper says the FBI has developed techniques for remotely activating the camera in a laptop — without triggering the alert light by the lens that normally comes on when the camera is capturing anything.

For photo retailers seeking new ways to increase sales, there is good news in all this innovation. Paul predicts 3D printing, a technology that already exists and is hitting the marketplace, will be the next big thing – and it’s not something consumers can do by themselves. Autodesk 123D Catch makes 3D models from photos on a PC or an iPad. Digiteyezer of France will take your photo in a kiosk, and either put a 3D avatar in your favorite game, or make a solid model of your head in a gaming outfit. In Japan, new couples pose in a 3D photo model booth.

Dallas-based Captured Dimensions uses an array of 60 SLRs to capture every angle of a person simultaneously, and combine those shots into a 3D image from which it can have a 3D figurine created. As the simultaneous shots are faster than previous rotate-and-scan 3D capture methods, it proves perfect for those notoriously difficult photo subjects, babies. Now, the company provides 3D replicas of children, or of parents holding their offspring. Tecnologia Humana 3D, is rendering sonogram fetal scans in 3D plastic, allowing parents-to-be to hold a replica of their child before it’s even born.

Despite all the mind-blowing innovation going on, there is still plenty of room for improvement, such as low light capture that reflects how we see the scene ourselves, and computational techniques to deliver what imaging hardware can’t yet. Ease of use is another issue. Consumers have paid for great capabilities, but must study the manual to benefit from them. Eased image management is an area of huge need, which can be solved with metadata.

There is much opportunity for growth in the photo business, Paul said.  While phones and Facebook have irrevocably changed everything, and taken away the obvious, easy, traditional revenue, no other industry has the most-used device in the world from another industry serving as the best possible marketing tool for its business.

Now, we are all photographers. Everyone is a potential customer.

Photo retailer Q&A at 2014 PMA@CES sheds light on keys to success

retail panel from don
retail panel from don

(Left to right) Moderator Paul Worthington, Jirair Christianian, Brent Bowyer

At a 2014 PMA@CES retailing Q&A session held this week, Jirair Christianian of Mike’s Camera and Brent Bowyer of Independent Photo Imagers (IPI) answered questions on a number of important topics. Here’s a glimpse:

How are retailers overcoming the difficulties of getting people to print from their phones?

Jirair: We have put signs in the windows advertising that we do printing from smartphones, and we promote the logos of Android and iPhones. At our kiosks, we have cables ready for connecting to phones that are color-coded, and offer info tags to help people know which one to use. Our strategy is simply to put the message out that we can print from those images, and to make it easy. That goes a long way.

But people of a certain age tend to think of 4x6s when you tell them they can print their images, and younger people have no idea about printing at all — so the key is in-store displays. Doing in-store displays of photoproducts is a paradigm shift for us, and we do struggle with customers sometimes thinking we are trying to sell the sample image we have put on canvas or metal for the display as art for their homes. To overcome that, we have additional signs to communicate that these are products they can make with their own images.

How are you going to make money selling large prints when consumers can buy a poster for $10 at mass retailers?

Brent: Back when we all had successful one-hour stores and Walmart put in their labs, the ones who survived it stopped competing on price. Today, instead of selling you a $10 poster, I can talk to you about printing on metal and doing a canvas wrap and a shadow box frame.

There are a lot of opportunities in photo retail today — more than in the past. Wall décor is going through the roof. I sometimes look at model homes from home developers like Pulte, to see what they are showing in the walls. The people decorating these model homes are lead generators. Invariably, there is photographic wall décor, pictures of kids or vacations. It’s not an 8×10 on the wall, it’s a display of 15 black-and-white or sepia large prints or canvases. There are lots of opportunities in that regard.

Other areas that are doing well are video transfer and photo organizing.

There are billions of images in shoeboxes. The National Association of Senior Move Managers are people who organize your parents’ move to a retirement home or whatever. They consolidate all these pictures as part of their service — but they don’t want to do the nitty gritty of the scans and making books or wall art. We are working with them closely to getting our IPI members in front of them, because their services will be in high demand. That’s a long way from a $10 poster.

How do you sell a camera in a world where everyone has a smartphone in their pocket that takes what consumers think are pretty good pictures?

Jirair: Cellphones are doing for photography what Starbucks did for the local coffee shop industry: building a desire for it. We jokingly call smartphones “the gateway drug” for cameras.

We see customers coming in with photos on their smartphones that don’t meet their expectations. Those customers are prime candidates for us to sell a camera. Manufacturers are still promoting the megapixel number on their camera, and that has become synonymous with quality in the minds of the consumer. There are so many other features that can greatly affect the end result of the picture quality. That is a message that needs to be communicated.

We also try to be broad and deep in inventory of camera models and products. That makes us more of a destination, an expert in the minds of the consumer. When they come to us with a model they saw their friend using and ask us questions, we can position that within a lineup of different models. When we talk to them about their intended use, we can find the right camera for them to accomplish their goals.  It’s a matter of better qualifying the customer for uses and knowing what will help them accomplish their stated goals. We need to keep in mind consumers are taking pictures for different purposes – to preserve memories, as a form of artistic expression, as a form of communication, to share on Facebook and on Pinterest – and understand their need, so we can provide the right camera. And, the old good/better/best differentiation lets us know when they are ready for the next level camera up.

What are the keys to success for photo retailers going forward?

Brent: There are three things. First, be a merchant. Be a retailer. It sounds easy, but it’s not. The store has to look fresh and inviting. Change your windows every week. Many of us were never merchants in this business. Some of us got into it as one-hour photofinishers, and we were plant operators in a retail environment. We like mixing chemistry and watching gears turn. That’s not the way things are today. You have to be a merchant.

Second, you have to get out from behind the counter and get into the community to become the expert in your local sphere of influence.

Third, you can’t rely on just consumers for enough business, so you need to pursue B2B. There are so many opportunities out there in B2B if you look for them. Does your local restaurant have nothing on the walls? Tell them, “Let me show you these metal prints I can make for you.”

Packed room for Print App demos

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Can photofinishers generate revenue with mobile imaging? You bet, according to developers at the “Show and Tell” for AIE’s Future Imaging Summit. The early morning session at PMA@CES drew in a large crowd of photofinishers, developers, and others interested in outputting images.

hans headshot 036The session, hosted by Suite 48 analyst Hans Hartman, featured five-minute demonstrations from companies offering apps and APIs for creating and ordering print products from smart phones and other mobile devices.

Among the presenters:

blurb

• Blurb’s  Claire Barry discussed sharing image-based stories online and showed how quickly one could be made with the Blurb Mobile 2 app. The software combines shots into a printable book, and includes image editing and text tools. The company will produce a 20-page softcover for $13.

• From iFolor, Sven Betzold noted that orders went up when they added a 4×6 image size (even though they are not outputting 4×6 prints) to the layouts for their photo books. He said the app can put together a basic printable book in just 30 seconds. He also noted the challenge that while European customers like “fat client” software, it’s a challenge to provide features on touchscreens and mobile devices.

Ecce Terram CEO Frank Simon showed his company’s mobile client for ordering photo products,  previewing onscreen how the image will look wrapped around a mug, or framed on a wall above a couch. With an Android-enabled camera, he took a photo of the audience, and placed an order from the camera. He said 10 percent of the orders the company receives are now coming thru the mobile ap. He also showed the Living Album service which automates image collection and album printing.

mosaic

• Perhaps the simplest photo book implementation comes from Mixbook: its Mosaic is “simple and spontaneous,” director John Flaaten said, and puts one picture per page, with few customization options. “That is hard enough: Users have a difficult time just choosing twenty images they’ve fallen in love with.” The basic book is $20. He added they are now getting orders directly through Facebook, and 15-20 percent of members there have credit cards on file, simplifying the purchase.

• Eduardo Llach said his Krome Photos now has hundreds of trained and certified image editors around the world who have now retouched more than 100,000 pictures. The new version of the Krome mobile app improves communication between the customer and the image editor. Llach also noted Krome’s success with Facebook adds: one out three who click the add go on to download the app — and one out of three of those go on to place an order.

• Lars Perkins sold his Picassa imaging service to Google — and now he’s back with Relive, which is all about the “Zero-touch user experience” as he puts it. The app can take just 30 seconds to create and order a custom photo gift — of which he stocks 29 item types, and furthermore promises to be the low-cost provider offering significant margins.

• Is solid 3D model output the next big thing? Vahe Christianian said LifePics is working on a beta test now with a national chain to see how customers like new 3D printers. In the meantime, the company’s API leverages the local retail store as part of a larger fulfillment network, to “turn the industry into a printing network, using localized printers.” He noted that 18 percent of print orders now come from mobile devices.

We’ll have more on this and other sessions in the next issue of PMA Magazine.