Wednesday, January 04, 2006

I love to take a photograph

“I got a Nikon camera,
I love to take a photograph” (from “Kodachrome” by Paul Simon)

Well I didn’t want to let the day pass with less than 100% of IAGers posting given our dearth of posts last week. During the last two weeks I spent time with family and friends to celebrate the holidays, captured some of those moments digitally, and for the last two evenings I spent some time uploading pictures to my account on flickr, adding metadata & tags to same, and alerting family members (including several who couldn’t join us) the photos were up.

Compared to more traditional methods, the ease, speed, and low-cost of digital images are hard to beat. And it’s really easy to share the images with folks far and wide. My pics aren’t professional quality, but they’re on par with the pics I’ve taken with fairly expensive film equipment (suggesting sadly that the variable is the lack of a good photographer, not a shortcoming in the equipment). I haven’t used a traditional film camera in two years.

My habits and experiences are apparently not unique. An item in the Business 2.0 blog reports statistics gleaned from a new report by Merrill Lynch:
• Nearly half of all households now own a digital camera
• People are printing more digital photos than ever before (7.7B in 2005 vs. 400K in 2000)
• Retail printing of digital photos is gaining market share from home printing
• Traditional film printing is spiraling downward rapidly (down about 10B units in 5 years)
• The rise in digital printing doesn't offset the fall in traditional -- overall total photo printing has dropped about 5B units in 5 years

The author of the B2B blog piece opines that lowering prices for digital photo printing will stimulate demand, and I won’t disagree, but I think the fundamental problem may be a shift in tastes – standard physical prints may no longer be of strong interest. Amateur photography has probably always been more about sharing than holding. I think the more promising business space, however, is probably helping people manage their digital photos (flickr, Picasa, etc.), enhance the photos (e.g. Adobe Photoshop), and make novel use of them (for example, Qoop allows you to create posters, photobooks, apparel, many people choose personal photos as wallpaper on their computers, cell phones, etc.).

For libraries, the shift to the dominance of the digital photo presents some challenging new preservation issues, and raises issues the digital versions of any resources do – storage, retrieval, rights management, etc. What I admit I don’t know is whether there’s a role for libraries in helping users enjoy and share personal photography (film or digital). Like gaming, it seems like there could be. Any thoughts? Are libraries actively supporting the shutterbugs in their communities?


Mark said...

Seems the B2B folks can't read charts or do math very well. Although they fixed the 1st mistake in reading the graph, they only changed part of the figures.

0.4 x 1B = 400M, not 400k, does it not? THAT rate of growth (400k to 7.7B) is NOT believable, although the revised one is.

The Shifted Librarian said...

As one might expect, Ann Arbor District Library is doing a great job at this:

Eric said...

Mark -- yep, your math is better & I may have read the original 400K rather than the corrected 400M. Thanks!
Jenny -- thanks for the pointer. I figured some libraries were doing good things already.