Is Your Industry Dying

June 6, 20150 Comments

school_job_market_obsolete_234665Recently, I’ve been getting panicked phone calls from smart, successful friends who ask, “I am afraid my industry is dying. How do I survive?”
When I hear that I immediately wonder, “Is demand going away for your product? (Like when the automobile replaced the horse drawn carriage). Or is demand still strong for what you sell but the methods of delivery have changed?”
If your concern is the latter, you probably still have a career. You just have to update your thinking and skills.
Take the photography industry for example. Companies like Fuji, Nikon, and Canon are freaking out that their cameras are losing market share to 26 million camera bearing smart devices. They assume that photography, as they knew it, is in a death spiral. Well, the ‘as we knew it’ part is right. But the act and fun of taking pictures is blossoming more than ever.
Take a walk with me.
In the 1960’s 55% of the pictures taken were of babies. The peak for processing physical photos seemed to in the year 2000, when 85 billion pictures were taken (2,500 photos per second).
Business Insider wrote a white paper (in 2011) that Facebook users had uploaded more than 250 billion photos and users were currently uploading 350 million new photos each day (mostly of ourselves documenting our experiences), 350 million photos is 40,000 times larger than the number of photos in the collections of the Library of Congress. It is now estimated there were 10.5 trillion photos in existence by the end of 2013.
In 2014, 37% of the images in the US were captured using camera phones, but now (2015), National Geographic writes, that number is expected to be 50%.
According to the website, http://www.1000memories, every 2 minutes we snap as many photos as the whole of humanity took in the 1800’s.
Lots of photos but are they any good? The photography professionals squawk about what they observe as degraded quality. Apparently, the only people complaining about quality are the photo processors. Turning amateurs into “photo artists”is getting much easier. First of all, if you don’t like a snapshot you simply delete it. While Adobe’s Photoshop taught us how to manipulate images and insert ourselves into unlikely places,the program is sophisticated and requires a learning curve investment. Instagram and smart phones solved that. Even basic smart device photo tools have on board filters that allow you to change the shape, and color of a photo in seconds. And look at some of the photo APP options.“Filterstorm” allows you to make fine color adjustments about as well as a complex desktop editor. “A Beautiful Mess” is an app that allows you to add text, images, borders, and filters. “Pic Play Post” is an app that displays more than one pic or video simultaneously. “Lenslight” can eliminate sun glares or add highlights. “Flip A Gram” has a way to build a photo montage married to music. “Incredibooth” will be the life of your party because it turns instant snapshots into an old-school photo booth. “Tilt Shift Generator” is an amazing app for enhancing landscape pictures to give it a toy-like miniature look. And how about the “SkinneePix” app which makes you look 15 pounds lighter? (I just heard the sound of 5,000 downloads).
Clearly, taking and manipulating our photos is wildly more popular than ever. So what are companies like Fuji, Nikon, and Canon supposed to do to stay relevant? What about the camera retailers? Since those players are the seasoned experts on lighting, composition, creativity, and F-stops…my advice would be, DON’T GIVE UP. Instead, teach or acquire!
Some ideas:
1. Hold high exposure contests for specific categories of images and reward the shooters with a spread in your magazines or newsletters.
2. Discover Talent. Become the American Idol for the photography world. Magazines still hire talented photographers. For that matter, create a headhunter agency for emerging susperstarphotographers.
3. Hold classes re: How to use the abundant features on your smart device.
4. Do the same with APPS. Be the expert on the best apps and explain what each app does. Or, create your own app.
5. Why not become a financial partner with the best App companies. If Apps are being downloaded by the millions why not share in their innovation and wealth.
6. Teach photo fans how to get the pictures off their smart devices…and how to create scrapbooks (physical and online).
7. The #1 gift last Christmas was the Selfie-Stick; a telescoping arm that allows you to get the perfect angle
8. Since photos are being taken by the billions, become a partner or acquire picture storage organizations likes Flikr, Photobucket, SmugMug, DeviantArt, Fotolog, The Pirate Bay, Pixabay, Shutterfly, Snapfish, Pintrest, Thirdlight, Yfrog…and the list grows every day.

Clearly, the photography industry is far from over. It’s just different. Nikon, Canon, and Fugihad to embrace the digital platform when 35mm film dried up. Now it’s time for them to get ahead of the next wave. After all, capturing images will still be popular long after Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat have gone out of business.
If you have an observation or comment about how you have adapted to YOUR changing industry…please leave it here and help inspire others.
Also, please feel free to forward this link to someone who just called YOU crying…saying their industry is drying up.

Ross Shafer is a popular keynote speaker and author of Are You Relevant? Absolutely Necessary, Nobody Moved Your Cheese, The Customer Shouts Back, and Grab More Market Share.
To contact Ross: Call (910) 256-3495 or email

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