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The new photo industry, the new PMA, and Australia

Have we ever seen PMA executives with the priceless combination of passion, intellect and energy displayed by Georgia McCabe and Scott Brownstein?

KeithWe need people like these!

You might also add courage to that list of qualities. To stand up and tell a group of photo retailers and traditional suppliers that their industry was on the verge of being taken over by Google and Amazon must have been as bracing for the messenger as it was for the audience.

If this thesis is true, then there is indeed an urgent need for ‘the industry’ to get closer to these corporations. Our market-leading companies like Fujifilm and Canon have totally failed to get out of their silos and engage with the ‘new’ photo industry. Perhaps an industry association headed up by individuals with credibility and contacts in the broader IT world is exactly what we need right now to regain relevance.

Here's the conundrum: This group is the nucleus of a re-born photo specialist association for Australia. But how many of them are going to re-join PMA?
Here’s the conundrum: This group is the nucleus of a re-born photo specialist association for Australia. But how many of them are going to re-join PMA? (Pic: John Swainston)

But it remains to be seen whether new members join, and old members re-join, in sufficient numbers to give PMA the operating revenue to do what it wants to do.

Photo specialists have made up the largest grouping of members in the past. Some will continue on, but I fear quite a few will not. The picture framers, who were another significant grouping, are already gone.

With the change of direction, perhaps more should be asked by PMA of the Fujifilms and Epsons and Kodaks, as PMA will be lobbying on their behalf as much as it will for its traditional retailer membership base.

An adverse exchange rate, an increase in fees and the closure of the PMA Australia office argue against local membership. But as Georgia noted on Friday, whether we in Australia join in huge numbers or don’t bother, we will neither make nor break PMA. With over 10 times as many members in the US, this is where the fate of the new PMA will be decided.

So where does this leave us? The PhotoCounter readers poll is running at 75 percent in favour of a retailer-based industry association for Australia and New Zealand. Around 50 people took the trouble to attend the meeting last Friday to discuss an industry association.

The meeting concluded by deciding to run a modest conference next year, so after a short break in transmission, it seems like we are heading in a positive direction again.

Let’s hope that the event is under the PMA banner, and looking at the bigger picture, the roles Georgia and Scott are allowed to play in helping shape our industry are of sufficient weight and length for them to really make a difference.


  1. Robbo Robbo October 21, 2015

    Its clear to me that to go forward you need to cut the ties from the USA.why not start up the new APA
    it would encompass all arms of our buiness without any of the old PMAhang ups. It sounds clear to me that uncle sam doesnt really care or see Australian in its future! Under an all aussie banner everyone would find a new source of energy. We are great at overcoming setbacks and challages lets see if the industry has the guts to fight for what it believes in. It would get my support!

    • PG PG October 23, 2015

      Robbo that would be a great idea if we had the numbers, the plain fact of life is we don’t.

      If you had taken the tram to the convention centre last Friday, using your seniors card, and attended the meeting you may be a bit more informed. I’m sure we could of chipped in and bought you a beer too 🙂

      The new PMAI team are passionate about making it happen, sure they are US centric but that has never changed. But their new direction is something that the old PMA would never have envisaged.

      We are however arranging a get together for next year, stay tuned…

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