PMA Australia Specialty Industry Conference offers ideas, opportunities and motivation



Ed Monahan of Kodak Alaris addressed school photographers

Ed Monahan of Kodak Alaris addressed school photographers

PMA Australia held its three-day Specialty Industry Conference this past weekend in Manly. Here, Peter Rose, Director of PMA Australia, shares his take on the event:

The Specialty Industry Conference offered a wide range of topics, speakers, and panels. Members engaged in discussions and received information that they could immediately implement in their own businesses, and heard from suppliers who shared their vision.

Friday’s trade show, with around 30 suppliers/exhibitors showing their wares, was an opportunity for one-on-one demonstrations; there was

also plenty of networking and camaraderie at the various events and meetings, coupled with some drinks and excellent food.

retailer panel.jpg

Panelists share insights

Saturday saw the PSPA group listening to two diverse speakers: Ed Monahan of Kodak Alaris, talking about school photography opportunities in an increasingly digital word of consumer behavior; and Sue Gresswell, on the New Working with Children Check – the rules and costs involved for anyone working with children. A trip to Sun Studios provided a welcome view into a successful business, a fun ride in a shuttle bus and a delicious lunch.

Sunday’s full conference program delivered intelligent and thought-provoking sessions, aimed at a primarily retailer audience, to help them do what they need to do for growth in a changing world. The upshot was that there is still opportunity to make money; there was an openness about the whole event, with speakers, panels and the audience willing to share their techniques, their ideas, and their strategies for success.

About 30 companies exhibited at the event.

About 30 companies exhibited at the event.

Overall, this was a successful event that gave value to members in terms of education. Now comes the hard part: keeping motivated to put into action the ideas and suggestions that were delivered.

Special thanks to National Chairperson Paul Atkins, who was tireless in his formal responsibilities, as well as showing he is a master in “holding the audience” during the various panel sessions. We will seeking feedback from the major participants in Camera House, PSPA, APCI and the various buying groups to agree on next year’s format. The general consensus amongst conference attendees was that the first Industry Conference was “‘very worthwhile.”

PMA Australia Specialty Industry Conference focuses on moving to the consumer


1451PMA Australia is holding a Specialty Industry Conference, Oct. 31-Nov. 2 in Sydney, with the theme of “Moving to the Consumer“. Providing education to consumers is one of the primary ways PMA is helping its members grow their businesses.

“The recently held Educational Expos in Brisbane and Melbourne clearly demonstrated how PMA can co-ordinate retailers, suppliers and consumers in a very cost effective event, which can now be replicated in markets across Australia. The positive consumer, supplier and retailer feedback we received following these events give us real enthusiasm to launch a further four events in 2015,” says Peter Rose, PMA Director of Australian Activities. “Camera House, Teds and other major retailers were instrumental in supporting this program with financial underwriting from APCI, which was co-ordinated by our Chairperson, Paul Atkins. Canon and Nikon agreed to sponsor the program. This co-operative approach was key to their success and will be a major factor in deciding where events will be staged next year. The overall objective is to make consumer photo education easily accessible and affordable, with the close co-operation of PMA members in those areas.”

Peter adds the program of speakers, panels and workshops for the 2014 Specialty Industry Conference is our strongest yet. “If you are serious about the future of your business,” he states, “you should be there.”


Another look at the PMA Australia Educational Photo Expo

Aus crowds

Aus audiencePMA Director of Australian Activities Peter Rose offers us this report on the exciting Education Photo Expo held last weekend in Brisbane:

Whilst one event does not prove a point, it does seem the results in Brisbane last weekend, are a clear indication that consumer education is key to the specialty channels future success.
Mark Alderson from Camerahouse and Nic Peasley from Ted’s were from the outset convinced (as was PMA) that educational sessions linked with a mini Expo and retailers present to “close the sale” was a formula that would work. The concept needed to be cost effective and needed to be “portable” to take around Australia  This  belief was shared by our major sponsors Canon and Nikon, who assisted greatly with high quality speakers (in Canon’s case) and promotional product (in the case of Nikon).Aus crowds
Brisbane attracted over 300 consumers, most of whom had paid to attend a wide-ranging series of educational sessions. It was gratifying to see these sessions were well supported from early morning through to 5:30 in the evening. The thirst for knowledge was clearly evident.
Feedback forms were  sought from all attendees and their comments will be analyzed closely for suggested improvements in the upcoming event in Melbourne and for next year’s events.
The overall messages were  however very pleasing: “Learnt a lot,” “Enjoyed the session,” ‘Will be back next year”.
Aus TedTrade participation is critical in our success. [PMA Australia’s head of Membership and Events] Barbara Bryan or I spoke to most exhibitors,  and the message was, “We want to participate next year.”
Our major retail partners in Queensland, Ted’s and Digidirect, reported good sales with strong follow-up sales expected.
PMA, as your “not-for-profit” association, has one objective in this exercise, to educate and connect with consumers, which ultimately will  assist our members.
I strongly believe we have taken the first step in achieving that objective.
Now to Melbourne on Sept 6!

PMA Australia’s Educational Photo Expo in Brisbane: A perspective


Photo Expo 2014 BannerPMA Australia had a smashing success with its first Educational Photo Expo, sponsored by Canon and Nikon. This event, held over the weekend in Brisbane, drew large crowds and lots of excitement. On Sept. 6, a second event will be held in Melbourne. Here’s a look at the Brisbane expo, from the perspective of speaker John Swainston:

“More than 300 Brisbane folk braved wet and windy weather to join Australia’s PMA team and some committed exhibitors from the leading camera and accessory brands. As a speaker at many trade events for PMA over the past 30 years this was the first in Australia that embraced consumers exclusively  in such an intimate way. My topic was “All you need to know about selecting the right gear for your next travel adventure.” We took our attendees through iPhoneography, Point & Shoot, Mirrorless, All-in-one Tamron megazoom SLR photography and ‘The Works’ – f/2.8 glass where photography is the goal of the trip. What impressed me was the deep knowledge of so many attendees. But for many others, they had come to this PMA event because even with the Internet and good dealers locally, they were not getting the broad answers they needed to properly assess what would work for them. As we’ve seen at past International PMA events, and indeed PRO get-togethers in the US,  Camera House conferences in Australia, and I dare say Ringfoto member events in Germany, it’s this quest for knowledge that specialty retailers need to ramp up, to engage consumers who want to progress their image making, but don’t quite have the confidence to do it on their own. Photo Education, improved print services in many new forms were all high on the list of attendee priorities.pma_educational_pho#172C361

I didn’t get to see enough of the other presentations to be able to comment more broadly, except the fine talk on creating personal hard copy recipe books through Photo Book publishing, presented by the Momento Australia team. I loved that the illustrations were by Australian Pro photographer Penelope Beveridge, the award-winning and highly respected food and Photo Art photographer. The combination of inspiring images with useful how-to from Momento meant the audience found their way through perceived obstacles and were likely to go out and use the service. The ever present former DIMA president Phil Gresham was there presenting Fotofast’s latest services, as was the venerable Streets Imaging pro lab group.

The new Fujifilm tabletop print machine at a very affordable price, offering 8 inch paper roll print abilities attracted heaps of interest, as it opens up the world of Sweep Panorama prints from iPhone and other Smartphones, not to forget conventional digital cameras. This will work for even the smallest of Specialist retailers. Pro photographers interested in expanding their range of customer services could also use this as a custom print device based out of their studios. I came away with a strong impression that print and film to digital services  are likely to see significant improvements in the next decade as baby boomers start on consolidating their life’s images across various media.

Canon, Fujifilm and Olympus were very evident with their Interchangeable camera systems, while Nikon was represented in various retailer exhibitors, most notably Ted’s. Many people I talked with were coming from DSLR photography and especially interested in weight reduction in their future photography, as well as being less obtrusive. Vendors were able to show just how compact today’s Mirrorless offerings are, as well as demonstrate outstanding image quality and affordability.

While I can’t say I saw every aspect of the day, the overwhelming impression was one of keen excitement, exhibitors who were happy with the quality of the attendees and their interest level, as well as an affordable cost to exhibit. If resources and funds had been more extensive, a fuller PR effort might have produced even higher numbers and a few pro attendees, through that was not the primary audience. As a first effort, pretty darn good.

Next up it’s Melbourne, on Saturday September 6 at Victoria University. Another great group of speakers; my particular pick will be Canon Australia’s Jay Collier, with whom I share an August birthday. His wildlife images are something to behold. For my own part I look forward to engaging with the many new customers to more advanced photography, for whom such events are a wonderful, uncomplicated way to engage with contemporary image making, whether from a Smartphone or an advanced full frame DSLR.

John Swainston has been an active member of the photo industry for more than 4 decades, speaking widely to camera clubs and industry meetings around the world. He is a Senior Vice President at DayMen, parent company for the Lowepro & JOBY brands. He is a passionate photographer.

More on PMA Australia’s Educational Photo Expos

Photo Expo 2014 Banner

Photo Expo 2014 BannerWe recently shared news about PMA Australia’s Educational Photo Expos, being held soon in Brisbane and Melbourne. Teds, Camera House and a number of other retailers will be joining in the expos,  coming together to run two one-day education events.  The aim is to engage the consumers in learning about techniques to produce better images and enjoy their imaging experience.

“The days of placing an advertisement and hoping consumers will kneeling woman with camerareact are long gone. We realize the need to engage the consumer in the fun of imaging making. With the support of Canon and Nikon as well as a group of lecturers from the industry, we aim to present eight lectures and experiences for the consumers to participate in,” said Mark Alderson of Camera House – Raleru Ltd.

Retailers will be selling via their websites on the day, as well as taking orders on special offers that will be made available to consumers who attend.

The concept of a low cost consumer event will only work if the retailers and supplier support the event, which will be a template for future industry events.

“We have moved from the box phase into the hobby phase and need to adjust our approach. This is a great time for the specialist sellers to work on a longer engagement with consumers.  I appreciate the support offered by PMA to do back office work that allows competing retailers to work together in this way,” Alderson said.

Details regarding the events can be found on

PMA 2013 Convention in Australia… as seen from New Zealand


AusPMA2013ConvSquare Our friends Jill and Graham Boswell from PMA New Zealand offered this review of the just-concluded PMA 2013 Convention in Melbourne:

Attendance was down on previous years but as the focus was on retailing we personally got a lot out of the sessions. Day one provided an overview of the industry via statistics and panel discussions. By the end of the day it was hard to remember who said what but the notes we took will help us in our planning and justify attending the convention.

Gary Lamb (GFK) told us a survey revealed that the features a camera buyer associates most with picture quality are: Megapixels (55%), zoom (16%), low light (6%), lens quality (3%), sensor size (2%), Image stabiliser (1%). The megapixel myth is a great opportunity for photo retailers – talk about the real features that affect image quality.

John Swainston suggested we don’t reminisce about the “good old days”. He showed us stats to prove that they weren’t as good as we remember – the hardware market is much bigger than 20 years ago.

Chris Wilkinson from Wellington talked on marketing for specialty stores and showed examples from around the globe. He said we should be prepared to diversify, position our business as the dominant local experts and reinforce photos as the memory keepers for tomorrow.
It was day two that energised us – with Glynn Lavender and Peter Budd, in particular, providing the real motivation. Glynn  Lavender and Ellyce Griffiths spoke about selling knowledge.  Photographers have a thirst for knowledge and looked for this in magazines, clubs and on-line : photo/camera stores should be “selling” this knowledge. Run workshops (not classes) as people want to DO, not be TOLD what to do (and you can charge more for workshops). You only have to teach what you know – no matter how little.

A Kiwi export, Peter Budd, gave an energetic talk that needed more than a one hour slot! It was a very important session on building a better business – Peter has written a “booklet” on Creating a More Profitable and Resilient Photo Business so it was good to have a speaker of this calibre who understands our industry.

The final photographic session was the longest at 2 hours but social media is an important component of marketing our businesses.  I get overwhelmed with linking all of our social media together and David suggested we put a blog on our web page and feed  the posts from that to Facebook and whatever else we use (twitter, Google+,  etc) – top of my list of things to implement from the convention.

Following the PMA convention was the PPFA and the PSPA conventions with a few hardy kiwi ladies attending these sessions as well as the PMA sessions.  The rest of us wandered around the floor of the “Digital Show” watching people leave with arms full of purchases they’d made from the stands (a first for this tradeshow).

PMA 2013 Convention in Melbourne begins with a look at the industry — yesterday, today, and tomorrow


PMA2013Conv_Aus_web_250x170At the PMA 2013 Convention in Melbourne, Australia, yesterday, presenters John Swainston, Managing Director, Maxwell International Australia Pty Ltd., and Gary Lamb, Managing Director, GfK Retail and Technology Australia, presented a look at the current imaging market and the opportunities it presents for retailers.

John began by showing eight new capture devices that all have been released in the past seven days. Each of the new devices takes high res still and video (1080p), and all have Wi-Fi. He asked, “Who in the audience offers open Wi-Fi availability to customers in-store? Who has staff who understands networks to help clients?”

He noted remarkable changes in the photography value chain over the past 20 years. The typical 5-year value of a customer in 1993 was $750, with a 46% margin of $347. Retailers faced competition from other retailers, and other uses for disposable income.

Gary Lamb shares insights from GfK at the PMA 2013 Convention in Melbourne, Australia

Gary Lamb shares insights from GfK at the PMA 2013 Convention in Melbourne, Australia

Today, the typical 5-year value of a customer is $1,126, with a 37% margin of about $414. Retailers face competition from the Internet in terms of overseas competitors, gray market, and tax-free sellers, as well as other retailers.

In the 1990s, photo drivers were things that were new, distinctive or rare; family life; and events like births, school, holidays, travel. Families took an average of 3.1 rolls of film per year, printed them all, and mostly stored the prints in shoeboxes.

Today, picture taking is driven by events, experiences, creativity, and a desire to brag. People have a capture device with them 100% of the time, and every day is a photo day. The same events that triggered picture-taking in the 1990s still do the same today; but there has been a massive increase in creative images and food photography. Images are stored in the cloud, and few are printed.

Photo publishing is back on the rise. “Your business can deliver new growth!” John said. There are many opportunities in services like photobooks, mugs, T-shirts, metallic prints, canvas and 4×6 prints, and accessorizing the sale.

It’s important to note that 60% of shoppers search online first – yet, John said, a Google search on the words “Photobook in Australia” did not produce a single photo specialty store in the first two pages of results. Search engine optimization is critically important to being found by those people searching online. John advised reading white papers on the subject from Channel Advisor.

He also offered 8 ways to build a brick-and-mortar business:

  1. Destination experiencePresenters John Swainston (left) and Gary Lamb
  2. Best value – best fit for me – not just lowest price
  3. Right assortment that simplifies decision-making
  4. Immediate availability of the right accessories
  5. Possible in-store Wi-Fi for the 35% who compare in store
  6. Ability to teach in paid education post-purchase – traffic builder
  7. Instant gratification
  8. Social interaction – young moms & older buyers especially

John concluded with these points:

  • Hardware market is still much bigger than 20 years ago
  • Everyone has a camera 100% of the time
  • The drivers for pictures are different, and the obstacles to picture taking are gone
  • Your sources of income must be very different
  • Your ace in the hole is the power of pictures, still and movies, where you engage your customer

Gary Lamb presented additional information on the state of the industry, using research from his company, GfK.

He noted among recent mobile handset buyers, 34% of women and 29% of men say they use their digital camera less because they use their phone for taking photos. In addition, 28% women and 27% men who have recently bought a mobile handset state their phone has completely replaced their digital camera.

Camera retailers should note the features camera buyers associate with image quality, Gary said, including:

  • Megapixels: 55%
  • Zoom: 16%
  • Low-light performance: 6%
  • Lens quality: 3%
  • Sensor size: 2%
  • Image stabilization: 1%

Showing images to camera shoppers has the potential to overcome price-related barriers by easily and effectively demonstrating image quality, Gary said.

The 2013 PMA Convention continues in Melbourne through September 15.


Crowley honored with PMA Australia Distinguished Service Award

(Left to right) PMA President Allen Showalter, Distinguished Service Award recipient Jeff Crowley of Fujifilm Australia, PMA Australia National Chairperson Phil Gresham, and PMA Executive Director Jim Esp

For his dedication and service to the imaging industry, Jeff Crowley of Fujifilm Australia Pty Ltd was honored yesterday  with the PMA Australia Distinguished Service Award at the PMA 2013 Convention, now underway in Melbourne.

Phil Gresham, PMA Australia National Chairperson, presented the award. Congratulations, Jeff!

(Left to right) PMA President Allen Showalter, Distinguished Service Award recipient Jeff Crowley of Fujifilm Australia, PMA Australia National Chairperson Phil Gresham, and PMA Executive Director Jim Esp

(Left to right) PMA President Allen Showalter, Distinguished Service Award recipient Jeff Crowley of Fujifilm Australia, PMA Australia National Chairperson Phil Gresham, and PMA Executive Director Jim Esp



PMA 2013 Convention soon to begin Downunder


AusPMA2013ConvSquareWhile my colleagues and I in the U.S are hard at work preparing for the 2014 PMA@CES and PMA 2014 Conferences early in January, our counterparts at PMA Australia, Peter and Barbara, are set to begin the PMA 2013 Convention. It’s taking place in Sept. 12-15 at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre, and will offer attendees the perfect chance to:

  • learn some innovative ways to market products and services
  • interact and network with like minded colleagues
  • participate in panel discussions with topics that are relevant and current
  • discover strategies to put in place right now
  • listen to experienced industry leaders
  • attend the Annual General Meeting of and have your say
  • arrange dinner with colleagues or mingle over a quiet drink

Also taking place are the PPFA 2013 Convention, being held Sept. 13-15, and the PSPA 2013 Convention on Sept. 14.

“This is just a fantastic opportunity to take the time to work on your business, not in it,” Peter said. “Really, the only incentive you need to attend is the future of your business and your own peace of mind – the chance to learn from those who have done it, and find ways to succeed — even when everyone is telling you how bad things are. It’s a convention you can’t miss.”

Registration is available here. Contact the PMA Australia office for more information and assistance, and be sure to look for coverage of this event in PMA Newsline.

Good turn-out for PMA Industry Nights in Australia




Retail and marketing maven Bill McCurry and Canadian specialty retailer Neil McBain spoke to PMA members in Brisbane and Sydney about the current retail environment — and how to best adapt to and recover from the chaos of the last few years.

The duo conclude their tour on May 2 in Melbourne.

John Swainston, managing director Maxwell International Australia, attended the Sydney gathering, and says it was “Great to see a full room with no spare seats.”

(He also took the above picture, and notes that “at least two attendees, including yours truly, had a real camera, real flash gun, real tripod (for the video) and real flash modifier/diffuser. A slightly more appropriate recording kit than the iPhone.”)