For those of us who were born before than the nineties we are able to remember a time before Digital, but for anyone born in the nineties or after then ‘Digital’ is the norm and an everyday thing. To those born in the nineties the ‘Digital Camera’ is actually just a ‘Camera’. Since the end of the second World war there was the ‘Baby Boom’ period from around the mid forties to late fifties, and the next generation of ‘Baby Boom’ really took place in the nineties. This, in my view, is the technical revolution or digital revolution where the way in which every day things are done differently, and there was a very distinct shift in the way people worked and communicated. It was not so much the invention of the mobile phone, more the way in which we communicate with each other. Texting and e-mail took off in a big way and with blogging and social networking on the Internet there has been a big shift in the way in which people communicate and socialise. The younger age group, teens and younger, are more up-to-date with new technology than anyone and children as young as three years old know how to setup video recorders, computers, and technological equipment simply because to them technology is not new, it is now. The subject is huge and to write all there is to know about it I could and would be here for days.
What I do know and predict is that my business, and every business, in the next ten years or so will drastically change the way in which it operates and runs. Its customer base will be much more technologically knowledgeable, and the way those customers will communicate with businesses will change significantly. Businesses are likely to have less office space, and may not have an office at all with employees communicating through mobile media. The traditionally hierarchical structure of a business developed during the industrial revolution and still in existence in a lot of companies today will only exist in companies reluctant to change. I predict groups of people will simply come together to complete tasks and projects where a person’s specialist knowledge is required, and once the task is complete the group will disseminate, with other groups forming to complete other tasks and projects. For my business with just me as an employee the way in which I gain new business is likely to change, and the products that people require once a wedding has been photographed is likely to change. I would hope that photography, as in ‘still’ images, will continue to thrive as unlike video, which originally was set to completely replace still photography, leaves the imagination up to the viewer. A photograph tells a different story to different people and it is their imagination from looking at a photograph that makes that photograph worthwhile looking at that little bit longer.
In my business what I have to do and what I try to do is to look at how things are changing in society to predict what people are likely to want both from how I photograph a wedding, but also to the final product; what people want to keep afterwards. Albums are a big thing at the moment, but in ten to twenty years time this could well be superseded by digital imagery in the form of a DVD or something to play on an iPod Touch (or whatever takes the place of the iPod), or mobile phone. It is difficult to know what people want and expect, so the only thing to do is to keep up with the times and develop and offer possible end products that although may not be recognised to today’s bride and groom as a product they wish to purchase, may in future turn out to supersede in demand for the traditional wedding album.
I attend many wedding photography seminars where there is great debate about whether a photographer should sell the full resolution digital images taken at a wedding. The general consensus of opinion is that a photographer is selling their sole to the devil if (s)he does. This is because there is not only the lost potential for selling additional prints, but also there is no control on the way in which the photographs can be printed thus potentially doing damage to a photographers reputation if a client has a photograph printed that is not to a very good quality and standard. My own personal thoughts are that we are in a digital revolution and more and more people are wanting digital imagery rather than traditional printed material. I believe that printed material in the form of albums and framed prints will still be required, certainly in the lifetime I have left to photograph weddings, but that digital imagery and digital media will grow and increase in demand. I therefore believe that if a client wants to purchase the fully printable media of photographs taken of their wedding then I should offer it to them as a product. Failing to do so is a failure to move with the times and to understand what my current and certain future market will demand and expect from me.
Although people are waiting till they are a little older to get married, my clientelle are getting younger, simply as time moves on and we all get older. Digital is not new, for some people it is the norm and there has never been anything other than digital, so by the time they are old enough to get married and want a professional photographer to capture their wedding, digital media is likely to be the end product they will expect to purchase. Businesses who do not recognise this are not only likely to struggle but this may well be their downfall. All of this is strictly my own personal opinion you understand but in order to ensure that I survive and strive I intend to maximise the technological potential that is currently available to the public and offer what my customers want and expect, not simply saying “I don’t offer that”.