PMA CEO Georgia McCabe, accompanied by partner and respected digital imaging consultant Scott Brownstein, outlined PMA’s new direction at an industry meeting held at The Digital Show on Friday, October 16.
The event was hosted by Paul Atkins and attracted an audience of around 50, with a roughly even split between retailers and suppliers.
Former PMA Australia director Peter Rose and membership manager, Barbara Bryan flew down from Sydney to attend.
Scott Brownstein described a (near) future for the photographic industry dominated by the likes of Amazon and Google.
‘Google and Amazon are going to solve the “where are my pictures” problem,’ he said.
Images will be ‘automatically saved for posterity, automatically curated’ by internet-based businesses.
‘They control this space now. We are now ancillary suppliers to our own industry.’
Google Photos, for instance, vacuums up photos from computer hard drives, smartphones and devices, stores them in the cloud for free and organises them into ‘timeline’ albums automatically. Backup of new images added to the collection is also automatic.
It has accurate face recognition and allows the user to search their collection using terms such as ‘food’ or ‘dogs’.
Amazon Prime and Apple are also in this market with similarly sophisticated, free or nearly free image management solutions.
In such an fast-evolving environment, the traditional industry should be seeking to work with these large vendors, given they are set to dominate consumer photography.
So for instance, if PMA was able to persuade Amazon to extend ‘interoperability’ of its system so that a local photo store could easily offer photo printing services direct from Amazon Prime photos, this would be of immense value to photo retailers as well as their printer and consummables suppliers, and consumers would have an easier path to printing their photos.
He noted that the business development manager for Amazon Web Services was among the impressive list of participants in the recent Innovation Now event run by PMA, a first step in building bridges between the photo industry and these powerful new players.
The role of liaising with these IT giants on behalf of the photo industry is a new one for PMA. It may prove invaluable for the industry to have input on the direction they take with their new cloud-based photo services.
It does, however, reduce PMA’s previous sharp, day-to-day focus on the photo specialist channel.
‘We are not here to represent one segment of the industry, we are here to represent the whole industry,’ said Georgia McCabe (pictured left).
‘The PMA which you have now is not the PMA it once was.’
She said that the focus on the photo specialist had led to companies like Canon and Sony being less interested in supporting PMA – and consequently not participating in recent PMA trade conferences.
She added that PMA would not be running a PMA@CES in future, ‘squashed between windshield wipers and mattresses.’
‘Times are changing, consumers are changing, technology is changing.’
When asked what return Australians members would see for their US$295 membership fee, Georgia listed a knowledge base comprising case studies, white papers and market research; and ‘Communities of Practice’ (forums) for members with specific areas of interest such as Consumables Manufacturers & Distributors, Local Retail Specialty Stores, Mass Merchants & Online Retailers.
Australian members would have their own forum.
She described the PMA she aspires to help shape as a ‘community of entrepreneurship’
From the floor, Phil Gresham said that he valued the opportunity to network which being in a retailers’ association provided, and that he found membership of IPI rewarding in terms of being able to get together with people to share ideas.
‘That networking capability is what I look for,’ he said.
Georgia replied that if he thought IPI serves specialist retail well, and if he couldn’t see that PMA delivered any value, ‘then I encourage you to stay there.’
Paul Atkins opened a discussion on what exactly could be done locally, given a lack of budget and staff.
It was decided to put together a single day, single channel conference for PMA Australia next year, to be held in NSW at a Leagues Club or similarly low-cost venue, with the event to be self-funding.
There is a possibility that PMA may be able to supply a keynote speaker from the US for such an event.
Several meeting attendees including Lawrence Horsburgh from Photo King, John Swainston and Phil Gresham volunteered to assist Paul Atkins organise the event, with others putting their hands up after the meeting. PhotoCounter will of course provide a marketing communication platform for the event.
Paul said that PSPA (schools photographers) or APCLI (pro labs) might wish to run simultaneous conferences of their own, in which case the even could be organised into multiple streams.
A date is yet to be discussed.