An Expo is always a good opportunity to meet readers and well-wishers and the recently concluded Photofair in New Delhi was no exception.
One of the more interesting meetings was with a reader from Agra who lamented the fact that whilst he has reasonably good pictures of his grand parents, he could not find any pictures of his late niece because they were all shot digitally and never printed. He claimed that digital technology was fairly and squarely responsible for memories of his niece being lost for ever. Our dear reader did indeed have a point. It is all too easy to view a picture that you have shot in the viewfinder and then forget all about it. With memory cards being items that are easily misplaced or lost, important memories could be lost for ever. A random sample done by us reveals that only 10% of digital photographers actually print their pictures.
The reluctance to print pictures have taken a heavy toll of the mini-lab market which has lost more than half of its population. The ‘wet’ mini-lab is still to be replaced with user friendly kiosks as has happened in the US and Europe. This indicates that there are considerable opportunities for progressive mini-lab owners to move into new areas that are certainly more rewarding.
One area that has survived the general decline in printing of pictures is that of wedding photography. Most couples who get married would like pictures as memories. Again, purse strings tend to open up at a time when
weddings take place and there is severe peer pressure to outdo each other. The amount spent by Indians at the time of marriage is currently rising exponentially and photographic memories constitute a small but important part of that budget. This in turn gives opportunities for photographers to extend their range of services by offering photo books of different quality and prices and performing the entire assignment as a turnkey job. The range of photo books available in the Indian market has multiplied manifold and one could buy a photo book costing even Rs.1 lakh or more. So, all is not lost for you processors and developers. There are several opportunities even though some of them may be very niche. These opportunities, if properly exploited, can result in considerable financial benefit. Photo finishing is in no way dead; it is only transforming itself in tune with the times.
H. S. Billimoria