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