Tuesday August 22 2017

How smartphones are threatening photo studios

President Yoweri Museveni takes a selfie with

President Yoweri Museveni takes a selfie with some of the Commonwealth youth ministers at Speke Resort Munyonyo during the youth ministers’ meeting recently. PHOTO BY ALEX ESAGALA 

By Christine Kasemiire

A report by Lensvid, a photography monitoring site, concluded that smartphones largely contributed to the biggest drop in compact camera production last year.
The report deduced that 2010 was the best year for the camera industry with 121 million cameras produced. Since then, the sales have been dropping. In 2013, the figure dropped more than half to only 61 million cameras. The sales in 2015 further dipped to only 35 million cameras and later 23 million cameras in 2016.
The report blamed smartphones saying they killed the compact camera market because in 2016, the global sales of smart phones reached 1.5 billion units, an increase of 5 per cent from 2015.
In 2012, the Telegraph also revealed that Hi-tech smartphones had driven down the sales of digital cameras by 29 per cent in five years.

Smartphone ownership
According to a survey conducted by Pew research centre, youth smartphone ownership in America was the highest at 92 per cent for ages between 18 and 29 for the year 2016.
Youth all over the world are on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp where they upload at least one selfie a day which is made possible by smartphones.
They are now apt to keeping mementos of every adventure they encounter. This is where smartphones come in handy. The young adults usually seen holding selfie sticks or raising their hand wide out to take a good angled photograph of themselves, seem to be drifting away from the old days of marching to a photo studio clad in apparel designed to flutter them.
The Flickr community put the percentage of devices used for photography at 48 per cent for smartphones and 25 per cent for digital single-lens reflex cameras (DSLR) in 2016.

Effect on photo studios
With the launching of smartphones that virtually have the capability to take photos, edit and save them permanently in an instant, the multipurpose phones bestow a great challenge upon the human replicator business.
Lensvid reported that at the entry level, some people who might have considered buying a DSLR a few years back just settle for their smartphone camera which is better than ever and will soon improve even further with dual cameras, smart zoom technologies and more advanced features.


In spite of all the studies that point to the detrimental effect of the smartphones to photo studios, Mr Max Bwire, the director of studio and documentary photography at Blush Media, a studio in Kampala, asserted that despite the augmented smart phone usage by people taking photos, the future of this business is still firm thanks to other avenues they specialise in such as: family, maternity and new born baby photo shoots that have increased.
However, acknowledging the crippling effect of smart phones, Mr Bwire said photo studios introduced creative artistry angles that appeal to customers, discounts and seasonal offers to sustain their clientele.
The photos studios are geared to keep upscaling to different cameras and skills to entice customers in lofty photos compared to selfies off their smartphones.
He also predicted that photo studios in Uganda may base on specialising in profile portraits or maternity photo shoots, among others.


The manager of Dada Photo Studio and Colour Lab, Mr Yash Gohil, said the convenience and affordability that a smart phone possesses has a negative effect on photo studios which his studio conquers by introducing digital printing as a new avenue for profiting in photography.
The studio offers the cheapest photo at Shs1,000 while a smartphone guarantees selfies which can be taken in aeroplanes, beaches, on and under the water. The variety of endless opportunities for an instant photo at any destination for free, drives many youth to buy affordable phones with the ability to take quality images.

Future of photo studios
The report by Lensvid claims that aside from the professional segment, dedicated cameras do not interest the younger generation. The people who are still interested in photography are typically around the ages of 40 to 60 or more.
Youngsters, however, have the time and money to invest in photography as a hobby but are far less interested in cameras and prefer to use their smartphones.
Lensvid predicts that in 2017, the entire global market for cameras will drop below 20 million cameras (or 1/6 of what it was in 2010).


This cuts the route for production of enhanced cameras that will entice the youth and beat out smart phone cameras in the photography business.
This only means that smart phones will be a great threat in the future since its technology keeps advancing and photo studios are going to have to invest more to remain in business.

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