So here we are again at PhotoPlus Expo, trying to get a sense of it all and blogging for the three days.  Today’s first post is from Giovanni Savino:

“On the morning of October 25th 2012 I walked into the Javits Center building, in New York City, to visit the PDN PhotoPlus Expo event being hosted there.  I arrived just before the doors officially opened, still thinking about a “state of the industry” article I had been reading in the latest issue of Rangefinder Magazine while riding the subway train to get there.  The article was replete with thought provoking numbers:
50: The average age of the full-time male photographer
41: The average age of the full-time female photographer
380 billion: number of photos stored on private hard drives or online libraries
3,500: number of photos uploaded to Facebook every second

We now take as many photos in just two minutes as we were taking during the entire 1800s.  So, I thought, one thing is certain: photography is not dead and it has no intention of dying any time soon. Photography is obviously going through a moment of great, swift and perhaps hard-to-define changes, but it is very much alive.  And I could have told you that even without the mind-boggling statistics I quoted above, just based on the substantial crowds anxiously waiting to enter the Expo.

Once inside, as I always noticed in past Expos, the main fascination visitors seem to have is for extraordinarily long and heavy telephoto lenses, which are, as usual, displayed right next to the entrance.  Long telephoto lenses seem to be “that heavy object of desire” for many photographers, to the point it would be only too easy to start cracking silly jokes with sexual innuendos and phallic references about them.

I personally find this “fatal attraction” quite disconcerting, at least for one reason: To the professional photographer, telephoto lenses are (sometimes) very useful devices to get nearer to a subject from a distance and to alter perspective; however, they are extremely heavy and expensive pieces of glass.  Also, and everybody knows this, they are a pain to carry: they are often dubbed “joy of the chiropractor”.

Have you ever carried one of those big boys on your shoulder for twelve hours in a sub-tropical climate?  Well, maybe you should try.  That alone might lessen your attraction for them.  Besides, if photography is just your hobby how many times are you going to use your 600mm in a month?  Once?  Twice?  And why?  To get a close up of your cats whiskers from a mile away?

This leads me to a possibly controversial, perhaps misconceived personal reflection: how many, I ask myself, in this large camera-perusing crowd are full time professional photographers?  Judging from the marketing strategies employed today by the largest camera manufacturers (and even based on the technical and ergonomic characteristics of some of the latest cameras being produced) I am inclined to think that the most sought-after potential client for most of the latest photographic gear would be the so-called “prosumer”.

Now, don’t get me wrong: technology does advance, professional photographers do still exist (although plagued by a dysfunctional photo-market, non-professional competition and lowering revenues) and they are being catered to with a few truly well built devices and innovative solutions. Nevertheless, exploring the Photo Expo I quickly realized (and I know I am not alone), that photographic manufacturer’s most booming side of the market today is indeed the “prosumer” customer base.

In this ever-growing niche, manufacturing considerations of tough field usage, resilient and long lasting materials, intelligent ergonomics, can quickly become secondary, being replaced by somewhat inferior products with shorter life-spans that are often designed to emulate the ubiquitous smart-cameraphone interface with a plethora of touch-screen-multi-menu-fully automatic-anti-red-eye-idiot-proof capabilities. As a professional photographer, give me a tough camera, perhaps with just three knobs and a good piece of glass, a camera that snaps my image as soon as I press the shutter.  No gibberish menu navigation or supersized files size needed.

I would happily pay full price for such a camera and you won’t even need beautiful, skimpily dressed dancers perform on a stage to convince me to buy it.

What do you think?  Let us know, as we will continue our posts today through the weekend.