Why store photos in the Cloud?

hans photo cloud

hans photo cloud

Sixteen percent of those surveyed report they store all their photos in the cloud.
Half the respondents store at least some photos in the cloud… which of course means that half do not store any there.
Researcher Hans Hartman at Suite 48 Analytics is offering a new white paper based on a study for which 1212 North Americans between the ages of 25-44 were surveyed.

“For many smartphone photographers, the cloud is becoming the most important photo storage location,” the report says. “General cloud storage or syncing services are increasingly adding features and interfaces targeting photo enthusiasts because their freemium business model – free starter packages plus tiered pricing based on storage volume – benefits from (typically large) photo and video file sizes. Since photos sell storage subscriptions, many cloud services have begun adding features like timeline, photo discovery based on metadata, visual browsing, and unified photo viewing independent of file or folder structure.”

Hartman adds that many cloud photo services now “leverage various photo metadata through user-friendly interfaces, e.g. by letting users rediscover photos that correspond with today’s date in previous years. Going forward, we expect them to also start leveraging image recognition technologies, which have made tremendous progress  in the last two years as deep-learning technologies are developed and marshaled to solve the image recognition needs of deep-pocket advertising and e-commerce vendors.”

In addition, Hartman believes that the number one factor that could drive further adoption of photo cloud storage services is for these services to more transparently address mobile photographers’ most pressing photo storage need: secure backup. “Our respondents were clear: backup is the most important reason why they use these services. Many are confused as to whether their photo cloud services offer secure backup, as well as whether they would provide full recovery of their original photo collections in the event their devices break down or are stolen. Some services need to better deliver the desired backup and restore features, others need to better explain how their features work.”

The Photos and the Cloud white paper is based on a study Suite 48 Analytics conducted for PhotoGurus and addresses the following questions:

•       Do mobile photographers store any of their photos in the cloud?
•       Why do they store photos in the cloud?
•       If they do store photos in the cloud, why not all their photos?
•       Which cloud service do they use most?
•       Why do some not store any photos in the cloud?
•       Are they concerned about not backing up all their photos in the cloud?

The free white paper can be downloaded at http://www.suite48a.com/cloud.


DI Reporter names Dealer of the Year

nat cam exchange

nat cam exchange

Which photo retailer exhibited leadership, innovation and exemplary customer service in the digital imaging industry? Digital Imaging Reporter named National Camera Exchange as this year’s winner.

The industry trade publication says the 2014 Dealer of the Year “is a true success story, that has… transformed itself to become one of the leading retailers of the industry.” The Golden Valley, Minn., company is celebrating it’s 100th anniversary this year, and has also “stayed true to it’s roots — the legacy of the Liss family continues to impress the photo world, and we’re proud to bestow this honor upon them.”DoY2015-thumb-large

National Camera Exchange began as a camera store willing to exchange almost anything for a camera, from guns and gems to a St. Bernard dog, Digital Imaging Reporter adds. “But their true genius was in innovation and customer service.” It is now a 5-store chain.

The full story is here.


Focus On: Judi Weber, Quality Plus Photo

Judi Weber, Quality Photo

Judi Weber, Quality Photo

In her three decades in the photo industry, Judi Weber has found that while some things have changed, much remains the same: “People love taking pictures to create memories,” she says. “Of course the methods have changed from film cameras to digital cameras, and now cell phone cameras are most popular. But the main thing I’ve seen change is what is done with those images: Physical photos are not as popular, but I do see people still wanting to do something with their images – sharing on social media, but also creating photo gifts and photo books.”

Judi and her husband Mike co-own Quality Plus Photo Design Center in the Greater Chicago area. Married for 35 years, they started their business more than 30 years ago. “My husband had the photographic interest, working in a camera store at the age of 15 as well as taking photo classes in high school. I owned a 126 camera and probably shot about two rolls per year,” she says. “We decided two years into marriage that we would open a photo lab in 1982. I quickly learned the biz, and to love every aspect of photo printing.”

Quality Photo Plus began bulk scanning 5 years ago, when Kodak introduced bulk photo scanners. The business now owns two Kodak i1220 scanners, as well as a Kodak flatbed for portable scanning jobs. Slide scans were done for 14 years with a DLab 2 Agfa photo printer. In 2013, Quality Photo added a bulk slide scanner – the Slide Snap Pro – in anticipation of increasing and streamlining its slide scanning business. They offer prepaid bulk photo scanning boxes as a method of savings for customers.

The store also transfers VHS, Beta, Pal and all camcorder tapes to DVD, as well as cassette or LP Audio tapes to CD; and transfers 8mm movies to DVD or external hard drives.

The most popular services today are VHS and camcorder tapes transferred to DVD, photos and slides scanned and presented in slideshows, and gallery wrapped canvasses. “We feature hundreds of photo gifts,” she says, “from mouse pads, mugs and metal ornaments to hand-stretched gallery wrapped canvas, and create most items in house with the dye sublimation process.”

• Quality Photo Plus has been a member of PMA for about 30 years. Weber finds particular benefit in online resources provided by PMA, and has also found the annual PMA shows to be a boon. “The shows are great for viewing all the offerings of the many different vendors,” she says. “It’s especially beneficial when searching for new and the latest equipment.”

The store has also been an IPI member for 18 years, and of APPO for four years. Weber became a Certified Personal Photo Organizer through APPO, and the store joined the “Save Your Photos Alliance.”

• A native of the South Suburbs of Chicago, Weber still lives in the area, close to her six brothers and one sister. She and Mike are parents to Michael, 26, and Tracey, 31; Tracey and her husband Bill have presented the Webers with a granddaughter, Sedona, with another grandchild on the way next June.

Weber serves as a Eucharistic Minister on Sundays at her church, where she and Mike sing in the church choir.

In her leisure time, her hobbies are mostly photo related. “I speak at libraries about DIY photo organizing and getting your images back into your life,” she says. “I also display at vendor shows, networking Quality Plus Photo on weekends.”

In the store, Judi enjoys reminiscing with her customers about photo memories. “I also love to make them smile, and make them cry with happiness,” she says.



The new issue of PMA Magazine is here


Magazine_issueQ4_2014_700x416I’m happy to announce the newest issue of PMA Magazine — Connecting the Imaging Communities, is now live! With this issue, we are beginning our new, quarterly publication schedule.

In it, you can read about the PMA 2015 Conferences and Digital Imaging/Photography Exhibits and Sessions, presented by PMA, at 2015 International CES. You will also learn about Mark Wallenfang, owner of Shooting Star, whose fascinating career spans photo retail, professional picture framing, teaching, and being the photographer for the Green Bay Packers.

In addition, read about the huge rent bill that drove Fotofast out of its Brisbane location – and right into a much more successful future. Be sure to check out the Fourth Quarter issue for these stories, and lots more.

  • Beating the camera sales challenge – PMA 2015 Conferences speaker Heino Hilbig says we’re all wrong about why camera sales have declined
  • Going mobile with retailers – Now spun off from troubled parent Lucidiom, Photo Finale helps photo retailers unlock mobile images
  • Stop, thief! – PMA 2015 Conferences speaker Jack Reznicki on how to keep people from stealing your images
  • Chuck’s back – With his new namesake photo design bar, Chuck Wolf is back in the business

PMA honors Kirk Sidley with 2015 Hall of Fame Award

Kirk Sidley
Kirk Sidley

Kirk Sidley

Join with us in congratulating our friend Kirk Sidley, owner of Picture Perfect in Portland, Ore., who is the recipient of the 2015 PMA Hall of Fame Award, PMA’s highest honor. Kirk will be recognized at the PMA 2015 Conferences, January 5, 2015, at Bally’s Las Vegas.

The PMA Conferences will immediately precede the Digital Imaging/Photography Conference and Marketplace, presented by PMA, at 2015 International CES in the South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center. 

Kirk began his photo career in 1972 at King Size Photo Service in Everett, Wash., as a retail manager. During the next 12 years, King Size Photo grew to one of the largest photofinishers in the Pacific Northwest, with plants in Everett and Spokane, and Portland, Ore., where they operated more than 100 retail stores and a large wholesale network.

By 1980, Kirk was the Vice-President of Operations and COO. In 1983, King Size merged with Phototron Corp., which then became part of Qualex. Kirk, and his wife Shirley, started their own business, Picture Perfect, a one-hour photo chain, in Portland, Ore., in 1984. During that time Kirk also assisted John Haugen Sr., who had been his mentor at King Size, with the formation of Crown Photo Systems.

Kirk helped guide PMA as a board member for several years, taking the helm as president in 2004-2005. He has also served the industry in many other capacities throughout his career, most notably as Buck Rogers Chairman from 1998-1999, and as Chairman of the Board for Independent Photo Imagers (IPI) from 2007-2012.

Kirk and Shirley continue to operate Picture Perfect, which is a leader in providing digital photo services in the Portland area. Currently, he serves on his alma mater Portland State University’s Board, where he chairs the scholarship committee.

“We have chosen to honor Kirk Sidley with the 2015 PMA Hall of Fame Award for a career spent serving the imaging industry,” said PMA President Bill Eklund. “His many contributions to PMA and our members, as well as to other imaging industry organizations, have been truly invaluable. It is an honor to present this award to Kirk for his steadfast dedication to growing the imaging industry.”

Register for the PMA 2015 Official Business Session on Jan. 5, where Kirk will receive his award, as well as all the other exciting sessions and opportunities PMA has to offer in conjunction with CES this January, by visiting http://bit.ly/1rpOCMm.

MailPix photo gift app integrates with Amazon cloud drive



Last week Amazon announced free photo storage for its Prime customers — and now photo-printing and gifting site MailPix says its integration with Amazon Cloud Drive lets users order items directly from an Android or Amazon Fire phone.

“Our apps have been integrated with user’s phones and popular social sharing services such as Facebook and Instagram,’ the company says. “We wanted to take it to the next level and allow Amazon users to use the photos they have on Amazon Cloud Drive and then choose from more than 25 gift items.”

The Android app is here.

Focus On: Doug and Lisa Otto, PhoCentric



How did two accountants end up running a large photography operation? By following their love of the outdoors, and listening to customers, reports PMA Canadian Activities Director Robert Moggach.

Banff Alberta is one of the most photographed regions in Canada, if not the world. With a backdrop of the Canadian Rockies and Lake Louise nestled in between the mountains, it is a vacation destination for young and old — and especially for photographers.

While Doug and Lisa Otto may now be serving those photographers, they didn’t start that way themselves: they each started work in the financial and accounting field in 1987. After 10 years, Doug thought the photography industry was underserviced in the Banff area — and so together they started Express Shots Photography in 1998. They first focused on attraction photography, but after acquiring two additional existing businesses (The Banff Camera Shop in 2004, and Banff Film Lab in 2006) they changed the company name to Banff Photography Inc.

The couple have two children: Christine, 16 years old, and Geoffrey, 14. Lisa and Doug are avid outdoor enthusiasts, and Lisa says they “love where we live, and embrace an outdoor lifestyle of biking, golfing, skiing and hiking.” The love of water and the outdoor life sees the family spending time at the cottage wakesurfing, wakeboarding, and swimming — whenever they are not busy servicing their customers.

The scope of the business is “a full-scale retail store that sells camera hardware, lenses, and accessories,” the Ottos say. “We also have a digital lab and large format printers. We do creative gifting and print on many substrates from mugs to metal – on line and in store. We also have a computerized matt cutter and vacuum heat press for our custom framing division. Our staff also work as professional photographers and do weddings, portraits and attraction photography services.”

They have learned not to say “No” to customers, and instead train the staff to say, “That’s a terrific idea: let me check on it and get back to you.” This approach has allowed them to discover some very profitable ideas simply by listening to customers needs. “We brought in the Go Pro cameras after being asked about them, even though they were not in our traditional photo space,” they note

Customer feedback also led to another venture: “Our number one comment and resulting business idea was “I bet you and your staff take great photos – better than I was able to get!” the Ottos said. Those words led to the creation of The Mountain Art Gallery, a separate store that allows them to sell home décor that is produced and framed in their lab as well.

Being a seasonal business, staff levels range from 8 to 30, with the summer months being the busiest time in the company. The growth in summer months is primarily needed to staff the attraction photography division, which focuses on providing tourism photography at specific locations.

What other successful initiatives have they or the staff done? They we started an Art Gallery, “which allows our staff to be published under our brand. We do the custom framing through our framing division. This promotes the staff as professional photographers in their field, and keeps our framing division busy. Never underestimate the power of home décor and what people are willing to pay for art they can’t make themselves.”

However, as in most businesses, sometimes expected successes do not always materialize. The Ottos volunteered that gifting has not been a huge success for them. It takes a great deal of time and energy to produce and display the products as compared to the revenue received. Although gifting is considered high margin, you also need high volume, given the retail price points — and they have not enjoyed enough volume. Also, a small footprint reserved for scrapbooking was not successful either, given the low-margin nature of these products. As some other camera stores have experienced, Banff Camera is selling less camera hardware — but it is selling more accessories to go with the cameras. Also, the Promaster line has shown a very positive increase for them.

“People seem to be holding onto their existing gear longer,” Doug commented, “so we have diversified into other areas such as capturing images at local attractions, teaching photo lessons and providing professional photography services to offset the gradual decline in hardware sales we are experiencing.”

Advice for other photo businesses

The Banff Camera Shop was already a member of Fotosource Canada when they purchased it, Doug says. “Belonging to such a successful buying group has been very rewarding experience, as we have had the ability to learn from our peers and receive bulk purchase rates not attainable on our own.”

They were also introduced to PMA early one, and have been active members ever since — not missing a single PMA show. “Staying current is critical to staying relevant” is their philosophy.

What advice would Lisa and Doug offer others now? “Listen to your customers!” they insist. “Not everything they say will translate into the quick fix you are looking for, but if you keep an open mind, think outside the box, and listen very carefully — eventually someone will say something brilliant.”

On a more personal note, they add that one should “think less like a traditional photographer and camera retail shop owner, and more like a customer – and constantly ask “What do I want buy?” Our store and services need to become more relevant, and become somewhere we want to shop at – not simply something we own. Great products and services don’t always translate into money if it’s not what people want. Give people what they are needing (and asking for) and the money should follow”.

What other tips do they offer their fellow PMA members? The Ottos mention two keys to their success:
The first is diversification: from the minute they started in the industry, they have looked at how to add to the bottom line by doing different things. “When we took over the store it was a very traditional camera shop — but we now do large format printing, gifting, Art and Home Décor, photo lessons, portraiture and attraction photography and just about anything a customer asks for that will make us more money that it costs to provide the service.”
“The second key is our staff,” they say. “We have a core group that have been with us just about as long as we took over the retail stores. We couldn’t operate without their dedication and knowledge. They are the ones listening to the customer and passing along what they say.”

Lisa adds that their staff have actively engaged social media with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and they even started a blog detailing what they do in a day, and showcasing the staff. “They had fun doing this project and we are really proud of their accomplishment, as it shows what we do to both our customers, and to potential future staff. The real plus of this project is that it really is a great marketing tool for new hires!”

Here is the main company site.
The blog is here.
Here is a video the staff made about work in Banff.

phocentric in store


On the PMA Podcast: Have you considered rentals as a profit stream?



While researching a story about the rental business for an upcoming issue of PMA Magazine, Contributing Editor Don Long talked with Steve Biggs of Biggs Camera, in Charlotte, NC. On this episode of the PMA Podcast, Steve explains how equipment rentals have become a very profitable addition to the business, at a time when equipment sales have been eroding, and finishing sales have dropped off. Rentals, he says, are a great way to generate traffic and bring “ideal” customers to the counter, and, better yet, deliver a significant revenue stream.

You can download the episode or subscribe to our podcast here.

Or listen in now through the player below:

Mylio image service organizes all your photos on all your devices



According to IDC’s worldwide forecast, more than 1.3 trillion photos will be taken this year — and “keeping up with all those pictures is a challenge for everybody, professional and amateur alike,” says MyLO, a start-up offering a new service for “for taking care of all your pictures… for your life, and the life of your images.”

The Mylio software runs on Windows and Macintosh computers, and iOS phones and tablets (Android is in development). You can import all your photos from your computers, mobile devices, and services such as Facebook and Flickr. From there, changes made to your library of photos or edits on individual images are reflected throughout your network instantly, the company says. New photos captured on your phone automatically show up on your PC; photos copied from your camera to your computer are instantly viewable on your phone.

Bellevue, Washington-based MyLO says its service also “automatically protects your pictures so that they are safe even if your computer is stolen, your phone is lost, or your house burns down.” Back up is automatic across storage devices and an optional cloud service.

The software also provides basic and high-end photo enhancement tools, as well as Raw image editing.

The cross-device synching service is sold on a subscription basis, with prices starting at $50 per year. A free trial  supports up to 1,000 files on three devices.

Polaroid Fotobar expands into “micro-retail” sites

poloroid fotobar

poloroid fotobar

The Polaroid Fotobar “retail concept” company is  opening seven “micro-retail locations” this month in California.

What’s a micro-retail location? 300-square-foot stores that “represent the best of our technology, merchandising and retail knowledge, creating a highly scalable, efficient store model that can be rolled out nationwide,” the company says.

The seven micro-stores will open throughout October and November in Westfield mall locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento and San Jose, Calif.

Polaroid Fotobar launched two years ago, and now has stores in South Florida and Las Vegas. It says its “fun, and experiential retail destination is changing the paradigm of how people liberate their photos and turn them into innovative and memorable products.”

Westfield is involved in 40 shopping centers in the United States and United Kingdom.