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After 70 years, Photokina shuts down

After 70 years, Photokina, the ‘Worlds Fair of Imaging’ is no more.

Organiser and venue, Koelnmesse (the Cologne exhibition halls) attributed the decision to ‘the further massive decline in markets for imaging products’.

‘Unfortunately, at present the framework conditions in the industry do not provide a viable basis for the leading international trade fair for photography, video and imaging,’ according to Gerald Böse, president and CEO of Koelnmesse. ‘This hard cut after a 70-year shared history was very difficult for us. The trend in this industry, with which we have always had a close and trusting partnership, is very painful for us to witness. But we are facing the situation with a clear, honest decision against continuing this event, a decision to which, unfortunately, we have no alternative.’

As most Inside Imaging readers will be aware, the photo industry was struggling even before the Coronavirus pandemic, with camera and lens sales suffering annual declines in the double digits.

Since 2014, Koelnmesse, together with the German Photo Industry Association, has made efforts to broaden the appeal of the event, with  new exhibitor and visitor segments and more recently a proposed change to an annual rather than bi-annual event.

‘These changes in conceptual design, along with a shift in intervals and a change of dates, did not fundamentally improve the situation of the event,’ said Oliver Frese, Management Board member, Koelnmesse. ‘While there are more photographs taken today than ever before, the integration of smartphone photography and videography, together with image-based communication – for example via social media – was not able to cushion the elimination of large segments of the classic market.

Kai Hillebrandt, chairman of co-organiser the German Photo Industry Association, remarked: ‘Our partners in Cologne have done everything in their power to maintain Photokina as the leading global trade fair. Nonetheless, an event held in 2022 could not have met the expectations of the entire imaging community that those efforts were intended to serve. That is why we, on behalf of our association, are joining them in taking this regrettably unavoidable step. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the team in Cologne for a tremendous 70 years together!”

Now read: Don’t Blame Covid, by our US colleague Gary Pageau, from The Dead Pixel’s Society.



  1. Kenni Kenni December 2, 2020

    Oh my, another one bites the dust—and what a great one it was during its heyday! For readers who never went there, and would like a sense of what it once was, I recommend clicking on The Dead Pixel ‘s Society link in the article; Gary Pageau has captured some of the magic and excitement, as well as the immense scale and diversity, of this once-upon-a-time “show of shows.”

    • Andraz Andraz December 7, 2020

      I was there about 10 years back when I started in photography. I was amazed at the size of the exhibition and at all informations out there. Really sad to hear that!

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