The New Digital Environment: Do people still get pictures printed?

The media industry has faced challenges in responding to new forms of competition from digital services.  E.g. the music industry was one of the first to be affected by the the digital age. After a long period of trying to fight the enviable, they are now realising the possibilities awakened by the new digital environment. The photographic film market was obviously also dented by the introduction of digital cameras. So the question stands why should people pay for this service as part of their night out? They could easily print out pictures downloaded from Facebook or their iPhone if they wanted digital/ tangible copies. However, do people actually still go and print out pictures anymore?

No. The digital age has made the normal everyday consumer lazy. The ability to be able to store pictures digitally on their computers has given people a new way to view their photos. However, there are very little gratifications received from viewing photographs digitally. Researchers Bulmer and Katz published a theory in 1974, stating the individuals view texts for the following purposes:

-Diversion/ Escapism; Personal Relationships (emotional interaction); Personal Identity and Information

With photography individuals are viewing images for escapism and personal relationships. The view images to reminisce past memories. Susan Sontag reflects on the power of photography in her book ‘On Photography’, “To photoraph people is to violate them, by seeing them as they never see themselves, by having knowledge of them they can never have; it turns people into objects that can be symbolically possessed. Just as the camera is a sublimation of the gun, to photograph someone is a sublimated murder…/ -But when we are nostalgic, we take pictures… All photographs are memento mori… mortality, vulnerability, mutability”. ‘Memento Mori’ translates to ‘remember that you will die’ in Latin. That feeling of your own mortality staring back at you, as you look through a photographic window into the past, its that sense of time slipping away that attracts you to looking at old photos but when its tangible you know this is an ‘authentic record of reality’. Having recently completed research through social networking mediums about my audience, I collated the following piece of evidence showing that my demographic of 18 – 24 year olds are interested in this service offered;

Screenshot 2014-03-06 05.46.46 Screenshot 2014-03-06 05.47.04

The following research shows there’s interest for the service from part of my target market. It’s particularly interesting, to note down, what Joshua says in these Facebook comments. He speaks of having a polaroid picture of every clubbing/ party event he’s ever been too. The fact that he recognises that he would get a great gratification via nostalgia, similar to the feeling of when you look at old school photos of old childhood photos. In addition, theres a positive reaction from the audience as they give him a thumbs up showing that they agree. This evidence shows me that there is a niche audience to target with the service, that small niche could in turn become a mass audience.

The fact that even though the number of People nowadays printing pictures is declining, People will still love to make an event of looking back at old photographs. Companies such as Kodak, Afga, Illford were quick to breakdown a century-old industry with the arrival of the digital age. If you look at your local UK hughstreet, you’ll find that its now becoming harder to find a big photography brand on the store front. Companies such as Boots; WHSmith, Tesco have all started incorporating self service print machines which are all digital. However, having asked employees about the amount of people that come in to print photos, and describing the pattern using the following keys; rare, occasional, Frequently. Out of the 3 available shops to print from (Boots, WHSmith and Jessops) they all responded with ‘occasional’.

My target market are attracted by the idea of having printed and developed photos quickly because its something they have never experienced. Though there is a decline in the number of shops available to print because of the digital takeover, the demographic of 18-24 will always fall toward having a physical photo because its refreshing.

References 

Lloyd Alter. (2012). How Polaroid Predicted the Future, Inspired Steve Jobs, and Changed the Way We Take Pictures Forever. Available: http://www.treehugger.com/gadgets/doing-impossible-story-polaroid-and-impossible-project.html. Last accessed 17th Feb 2014.

Susan Sontag (1979). On Photography. 3rd ed. USA & Canada: Penguin Classics. p13 – 15.

Gill Branston & Roy Stafford (2010). The Media Student’s Book. 5th ed. London & New York: Routledge. 218 – 219.

Katz, Elihu, Jay Blumler and Michael Gurevitch.  The Use of Mass Communication.  Beverly Hills, California:  Sage, 1974.

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