The Kodak Photo Futures report looks at the changing nature of photography throughout Europe. It highlights the drivers and effects of change in photography since the advent of digital technology. The insights in this report are divided into two sections – ‘Market Drivers and ‘Photographer Typologies.
Market Drivers include the rapid development of new technologies that give consumers the ability to take pictures easily and quickly. High quality cameras give near professional results with little specialist knowledge required. Meanwhile, falling camera prices have brought digital photography into more hands. Even lower end cameras now include sophisticated functions such as facial recognition. Interestingly, the lust for professional results doesn’t end there. Despite enjoying the convenience and efficiency of digital photography, consumers accustomed to visuals of high quality in media and advertising, expect high quality prints.
The ubiquity and affordability of digital photography means many consumers are taking photography less seriously – it is a fun activity and the fact that it is digital and therefore non-permanent, allows mistakes to be deleted painlessly. Meanwhile, dissatisfaction with traditional ‘top down media means consumers are seeking ways of engaging directly with news gathering and opinion, creating a generation of citizen journalists and commentators. This also now has a financial implication, as users in some instances are starting to be paid, though modestly, for their content. The rise of social networking internet sites, photo sharing services and technologies, has had an impact on how we use our images today. Consumers now have a choice in how they wish to view and share their images, one of which is via the Kodak Gallery, where they can display and share their images, as well as video footage with a wide network of people, family or friends.
The rise of the camera phone has also driven usage enormously. Most people now have a functioning camera on their person most of the time and so they take pictures for a wider range of reasons much more often. Digital images now take the place of written notes and aides memoire when shopping or communicating with friends. Digital images are being used as evidence in more serious circumstances such as crime prevention and insurance claims.
At the same time, photography is becoming less of a mirror of truth. Users increasingly opt to retouch their own images, and as a result, are less inclined to trust the images shown to them in the media. Yet even as images in some way become more ephemeral, some observers predict a mini renaissance in the use of 35mm film, as a niche of users return to its physical appeal.
At the other end of the spectrum, as digital technology sees the rise of compact cameras and camera phones, it is creating another challenge for photography, in the shape of video. Video capability has become more widely available, and so-called ‘web 2.0 technology makes it easy to upload, share and view video content. The popularity and ease of blogging is readily transferred to the video arena, further enhancing the overall digital experience.
The photography typologies section describes five distinct types of user:
Eventographers are the most common type (39%) and tend to carry a camera for special occasions. While a number still use disposable cameras, many own a digital camera for its convenience and a third have a digital SLR as they seek good results. Eventographers love physical pictures and print their own on to photographic paper. They are the most likely to use old-style photo albums (46%) and use email to share digitally.
Happy Snappers are young – most likely between 18 and 24 – and are enthusiastic about using camera phones to take and share their snaps quickly (only 13% do not own one). This is a generation that has grown up with technology, so they also prefer seeing images digitally, rather than just printing them out. Sociable and outgoing, they take the most photos of any group and share them more widely, such as on dating websites, using the internet primarily to manage their output. They also don’t tend to mind sharing embarrassing images.
Digital Disciples make up the second-largest group (35%) and consider themselves serious amateur photographers. They are evenly spread in terms of age and often work in creative industries, though not in a creative role. They are the most likely to own a digital SLR and invest heavily in lenses and peripherals, and are also the most likely to explore photo editing software and have ambitions to make money from their hobby. This groups usage of photo sharing websites is high and they are meticulous about backing up their images.
From persuading other people to take their pictures for them, Picture Pests have been seduced by the convenience of digital compact cameras and camera phones. This small (5%) group of predominantly over-35s will spend more on cameras and photography equipment in the next five years, mainly on no-fuss equipment. They are familiar with social networking sites and distribute images online, though mainly by email. Broadband growth is a key driver for this group.
This tiny (2%) group is split between rebellious younger uses who do not want to conform to the
ubiquity of digital and older users who are still very familiar with old-style 35mm film. Fully half of the group do not even own a digital camera, and they are the most likely of the groups to use a disposable camera. They are not prolific photographers, but enjoy its physical nature. They also enjoy darkroom developing. Some do use a digital SLR, however, but they are likely to eschew digital retouching.
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