May 17, 2017 at 7:40 am #14224
Canon are doing a re-launch of their camera products in Europe. This is going to be more than a campaign. They are concerned that younger people are not interested in their cameras! Does this sound in any way familiar to you?
The mobile phone has already seen off the compact camera, now it seems it is threatening higher grade ones too.
Who can blame the young people for being attached to their phones? The phone offers them instant connectivity, performs the functions that several devices were needed for in the past, including, of course, a camera. The image processing features are now way ahead of what any camera can do and the image quality is easily comparable to mid-range cameras (in fact, for most people, for perceived purposes, as good as any camera) and, most of all, nothing extra to carry (and no extra cost over the must-have, very expensive, mobile).
I think they have a hard job ahead and it will be interesting to see how they tackle it.May 17, 2017 at 11:01 am #14226
I suspect Canon are on a hiding to nothing with this. The problem for camera manufacturers is the profound change that’s happened in how people use photography.
I was in a shop the other day, and a young woman (aged 17 or 18 I guess) was looking at an item, and wanted to note the details. Whereas you or I might have pulled out a bit of paper and a ball pen to scribble them down, she just pulled out her phone and photographed the label. Similarly, I’ve seen kids in college using their phones to photograph the teacher’s notes and sketches on the whiteboard: why bother copying it all with a biro into a notebook? And I doubt that young people see much difference between this and taking a picture of themselves in the jumper they are trying on in a shop to send to their mates to ask what they think of the garment; or doing a selfie with their partner while out on the town and posting it on Facebook to show family and friends how much fun they’re having.
The point is, young people don’t think of any of this pompously as ‘Taking A Photograph’, much less do they say of themselves ‘I Am A Photographer’, in the way that an older generation might have done.
When Canon’s traditional customers were young, photography was a costly, complex and skilful business, and those who went in for it were devotees who might well say of themselves ‘I’m a photographer’ or at least that ‘I do photography as a hobby’. Photography was a rather special set of skills and practices, distinct from ordinary daily activities. Even the great mass of Kodak-using snappers actually used a camera relatively rarely, mostly on special occasions: holidays, a family wedding or birthday, the birth of a grandchild, etc.
And, of course, in order to do photography at all it was essential to have special – and often expensive – equipment, especially if you were a professional or serious amateur who developed your own film and printed your pictures yourself. The arrival of digital cameras eroded the specialist skills and arcane mysteries of ‘Photography’ with a big ‘P’. But the equipment still required some technical know-how; and it was at first big and cumbersome enough for you to have to decide to take it with you specially, because you intended to ‘take some photographs’. Those apects of the practice of taking photographs maintained the subtle, almost unconscious sense of photography as a special activity in itself. Just the decision to own a camera and to take it with you for the purpose of making pictures implied – and created – the notion that Photography was a particular, distinct cultural activity. And camera companies could use that fact to convince people that they needed the latest, fastest, fanciest kit to do it successfully.
Smartphones have abolished that special cultural demarcation for photograpy. In a very important cultural and social sense, it is now true that ‘everyone is a photographer’ by virtue of always having an easy-to-use camera with them. Consequently, no one is a photographer: ‘being a photographer’ is, for most folk who take pictures, a meaningless description of what they are doing and how they perceive themselves. Young people don’t think of doing a selfie for Instagram as doing photography; and the pictures that they want to make or see don’t need to be done by ‘a photographer’ – whatever that is. Taking pictures is, for most people, now more like making a quick note on a post-it: something anyone can do without thinking of themselves as ‘A Writer’.
How can Canon possibly convince the great mass of people that they need Canon’s special, expensive kit to do a selfie for Instagram, or a picture of their partner standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon to post on Facebook? Even Annie Leibowitz says that the camera she always has with her is her iPhone.May 17, 2017 at 9:06 pm #14228
What ever Canon does others will follow. There is an insatiable appetite still for photography–as can be seen by the millions of excellent photographs posted on Flicker as an example. The big companies will adjust to demand and bring some influence to the changes. If camera clubs are to survive, there is the need to embrace the changing trend. Camera clubs have been excellent at engaging major changes. Colour prints unheard of in clubs in my time. 35mm to digital—digital printing. Etc. So a big challenge waits ahead and no doubt will be met. How long before new young people become members –with their Smart phone camera”s.??May 18, 2017 at 8:57 am #14230
They say if you can’t beat them join then. I don’t think can have the technology to bring out their own mobile phone, but they might join forces with an mobile phone manufacturer to have some input in a new phone.
I share Ken’s concerns about the lack of young people joining camera clubs. We need to change with the times and embrace the new technology but really need people who know it well to lead the way. Time to start using my camera phone more!May 18, 2017 at 9:20 am #14234
Interesting that Ken should cite Flickr as evidence of the continuing interest in taking pictures. The most frequently used camera on Flickr is now an iPhone. Many Magnum photographers have Instagram accounts, and take pictures with iPhones – indeed, a couple of them have for some years been using iPhones for all of their professional work (in, for example, Afghanistan, where lugging a Canon DSLR around attracts unwelcome attention, but everyone uses a smartphone, so no one notices the Magnum photojournalist!)
Perhaps it’s time for us to have talks about how to use a smartphone camera well, and to hold iPhonography PDI competitions.May 20, 2017 at 8:43 am #14240
I think Ian has summed up the situation very well indeed. Just because there is a vast increase in the number of pictures being taken does not mean that we can expect a commensurate increase in interest in club photography. Over the last dozen years or so we have seen an increase in club membership in the NW region, but it is now, although still higher than in 2005, it does seem to be declining. Far more use photography and get more uses from photography but they are not exploring camera clubs as a way of furthering their photography.
Anyone reading this who is not a club member must be interested enough to become one! Just come to one of our meetings and see what it is all about.May 20, 2017 at 12:13 pm #14242
Well I would give acclaim to both Ian and John for their valued comments above which both worthy of wider publication. Its so interesting how an opening subject leads down another path. Canon”s objectives then onto club membership and this can be the joy of a forum. Regarding photo club membership–this is a subject which discussed all night over a case of lager–and not reach a conclusion. But never the less one that should not be ignored. My view regarding John”s last comment” Just come to one of our meetings and see what it is all about.”-I would not hesitate to suggest most would then walk away. L.C.P.U. has within its counties a population of multi millions- great institutions-massive industry–schools and hospitals. Yet photo clubs only attract a miniscule drop in the ocean as members of our photo clubs. What is the psychic that induces millions to football- to photography- Flicker—Mc. Donalds- hols abroad—–yet—churches, sea side holiday lets—markets and photo clubs can attract all but a few ???? Will todays 15–to –20 year olds become members say ten years on, I would suggest most unlikely. There is the need for a radical change in the entire concept of club photography to bring it into the 21st century. That is if club photography is to survive and prosper. Within our own area we have thousands of people of high tech. ability -a massive hospital with doctors-nurses -medical technical staff etc, superb industries with highly skilled staff, executive and commercial people who of many will be grossly interested in photography. Yet as in most towns and cities, we attract all but a few. I would not venture to suggest what the answers are. But as one small example, I am aware of young people I know who are as passionate about their activities as we are with photography. Getting beat at football is a demoralising disaster for them. Others –10 year olds in club gymnastics – underfunded clubs- coming home with superb medallions for an evenings competition. Transpose those kids entering our competitions– the judge says 12 points for their photo they have been so proud to enter!!!! The other gets highly commended and next year is presented with a piece of paper to show off to his/her pals. I do not expect to be around in 15 years time- I would though hesitate to guess if photo clubs go first. Yet it could be so exciting being able to embrace many more of those out there all ready interested in photography.
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