Change or die

As predicted, Kodak has just applied for bankruptcy protection.

A sad almost-ending for a company that made the photography field into what it is. But a predictable one. Kodak failed to keep up with the digital world. Just like Polaroid (but unlike Fuji): when Film ended – Kodak ended.

Kodak, you see, was afraid of cannibalizing its film sales. Digital will do that – and did do that. But here’s the problem: if you do not cannibalize your own sales, someone else will. You need to be market-trend centric, not “me-centric”.

The same is true in my field. I teach as well as shoot. Some colleagues criticize me for “training the competition”. Yes – but at least I train them well, and most importantly, if I do not train them, somebody else will. If there is a demand, there will be a supply.

Which is why I train at Sheridan College, at the School of Imaging, at, at The Granite Club, at this daily blog, and at various other venues.  These are great times to learn photography, and I will do my utmost to train as many people as possible.

Tip or photographers: embrace the concept of trends. Trends are unstoppable. So in terms of trends (not individual products – look at Apple), you should look where the market is going and go there. For us that means supplying images on a DVD, for instance. Using the cloud and the web to share work. Providing cheaper, or fewer, prints. All these are unstoppable trends, so embrace them.

I am not saying “all change is good”, but I am saying “once a change is unstoppable, recognize it and embrace it – see how you can make it into a benefit”. Fuji dealt with the Tsunami of Digital – while Kodak singularly failed to.


6 thoughts on “Change or die

  1. The next unstoppable trend is the mirrorless cameras. It will be interesting to see how this technology evolves and if it would put an end to the DSLR as some predicted.

    If the new sensor in the new Fuji X-Pro 1 is as good as what Fuji claims, this camera may be a game changer. I think Fuji will have a hard time keeping this camera on the shelves of its retailers even with its high sticker price of $1700 for the body alone.

  2. Michael:
    I realize that this is a blog for the masses, but this is a dramatic oversimplification of why Kodak has filed for Chapter 11 protection in the United States. Kodak holds a number of highly critical digital imaging patents and were dealing with market forces before digital became an issue. At one time they employed over 100,000 people and in recent efforts to salvage their core business actually layed off, with varying forms of compensation over 47,000 employees while divesting themselves of unprofitable divisions and products. Kodak had suffered as much from over diversification as they did from digital imaging. To wit, at one time they actually owned the Minwax corporation and Watco Oils, neither of which had anything whatsoever to do with photography,or related markets.
    Kodak may well have hung onto film longer than was prudent, but that was not the major source of their financial woes.

    • I would not say a dramatic oversimplification. They failed to “cannibalize” their film sales – unlike Fuji, who replaced the 60% of their revenue they lost when film disappeared. Kodak replaced nothing, just held on to wishful thinking. Their diversification efforts were not well thought out…

      • Not exactly so. Kodak produced both consumer and at one time professional digital,cameras and digital printers. They also were/are involved in chip technology and hold various digital related patents that have been infringed upon and litigated. However, the monies owed them have yet to be paid.

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