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The age of film photography is leaving and not coming back

30 April 2012 / 21:04:53  GRReporter
6229 reads

Victoria Mindova

The era of digital technology changed our lives forever. With this statement agree all those who remember the duplex telephone, modems, which make strange sounds before connecting to the Internet or the children who were becoming a branch of the television antenna so that dad could watch the news or the football game.

With advances in technology, the old analogue systems gave way to the digital era, and today all these travails are over. The one sector that changed its face the fastest and most drastically after the introduction of digital technology in our daily lives, is photography. The memory of trembling in anticipation for at least two days while the neighbourhood photo studio develops your photos from the summer vacation or the child’s birthday party, seem as far away as Gorbachev’s plan for the Perestroika of the Eastern Bloc.

Photographs and other optical materials today can reach anywhere in the world in seconds using a Smartphone, the Internet and some of the many social networks. At the same time the phenomenon of the "neighbourhood photo studio" is almost non-existent and photography has ceased to be exclusively performed by professionals. GRReporter contacted Dimitris Hadzimoisis, who is a professional photographer and heir of the family business with photographic products and accessories, in order for him to relate his impressions on how the technological progress changed photography.

"My father started his business as a dealer of photographic products and services 25 years ago. Back then photography was considered a highly lucrative profession and the income of photo studios was subject to a special luxury tax on. Now this is a distant memory," says Dimitris. He says that the collapse of the photographic market has begun to occur with the arrival of the new millennium.

"In Greece, almost simultaneously, came the large retail chains and small digital cameras for domestic use. They started offering new products at a much lower price than the ones sold in photo studios, placing emphasis primarily on sales volume rather than profit per sold unit." Hadzimoisis explained that with the change in technology, the two major sources of funds for photo studios began to dry up - the sale of cameras and developing photos. "People stopped developing their photos from special occasions, and started keeping them on file," he said. Dusty photo albums gave way to computer files, and the faces of loved ones now adorn the desktop of our personal computer or swing across the screensavers screen.

"Digital technology has its advantages and they are mainly associated with the rapid results we achieve in our work. Furthermore, once you have invested in a professional camera, then the costs are minimal, unlike with analogue technology," says Dimitris. He notes that there is no cost for film and developing, and his customers can very quickly see the results of his work. Digital technology is evolving and changing much faster than the analogue one. Dimitris says that nowadays groundbreaking discoveries can occur in just six months, and digital cameras can quickly become obsolete as opposed to the analogue equipment. "Back in those days something revolutionary came every ten years, development now is much faster."

However, advances in technology, are a double-edged knife. On the one hand the introduction of cameras for wide use and the simplicity of the technology almost cost his family its business. However, he believes that digital photography and the development of various programs and applications related to it, offer greater creative scope. "Neighbourhood photo studios as we remember them, are extinct. All services that were once available there, today can either be performed at home or performed by specialized stalls in major retail chains."

It is a fact that in almost every supermarket in Greece we can find a stand for electronic equipment, which in addition to mobile phones and electronic games offers also pocket cameras. "Photographers are also threatened by the massive influx of digital pocket cameras," says the photographer. Many amateurs take pictures of events and then those pictures are published in newspapers and other official publications, thereby shifting quality at the expense of price, says Dimitris.

Hadzimoisis concludes that from a commercial point of view, technological developments have caused irreparable damage to the sector. An example of this is the global bankruptcy of Kodak, which was announced earlier this year. As a professional, however, Dimitris does not deny the benefits of modernization. He has found a way to keep the family business, although modified by using the Internet.

"My father is a collector and along with the usual services of photo studio over the years we created our own specialized clientele that is interested in old cameras. After the advent of digital technology, sales fell and I got the idea of trying to sell old cameras on eBay. Currently, if we have one sale in the store, this means we have sold 20 items via the Internet. This saved our family business."

The young photographer knows that times have changed the profile of his work. He said his father, who is the founder of the family business, takes the changes harder than he does. After having a successful business for 15 years they finally had to close one family photo studio. The other one, which was on Syntagma Square had to be moved to a street bazaar on "Panepistimiou" street where it was working at a loss for one year. "Until a few years ago we were paying 2,000 Euros rent. Now we've changed locations and with a smaller studio we pay 350 Euros. There are some days when we have zero turnover, but the main costs are much lower and we can still keep at least one of our studios." Dimitris Hadzimoisis is not sure what to expect in the future but does not lose hope. He believes that when one door closes, somewhere another one opens. You just cannot give up looking for new horizons.

Tags: photo studio digital photography new technologies Greece
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