Reading about Kodak’s financial problems this week brought home to me how the internet and digital media has totally transformed our lives over the last decade or so. The changes in our lives are profound and cannot be undone; the tide has turned for the UK High Street, publishing, insurance and many other sectors – there’s no going back.
For Kodak fans, those old enough to recall using beautiful slide film like Kodachrome 64, or an Instamatic camera, it truly is the end of an era. The absolute irony in all this of course is that Kodak had the very first digital camera on the market, way back in 1975, but never made that technology the bedrock of their business.
Instead, Kodak were seduced by the chemistry of film, the profits from the commercial printer market and carried on manufacturing disposable cameras and home printers for far too long, when it was obvious that social sharing of photos was replacing an entire way of life for millions of people.
We point our phones, shoot pictures, tweak them using Instagram and publish on Twitter and Facebook – Kodak is nowhere in that process. It is blurring into history, like over-exposed camera film itself.
DIGITAL MEDIA MADE US RETHINK WHAT `WORK’ IS ALL ABOUT
Here’s a short breakdown of how we used to produce photographs for newspapers and magazines when I worked in media back in the 90s;
1. We tried to choose a sunny day and nice location to take photos of motorbikes
2. A professional photographer was booked – vast expense, plus travel expenses
3. Spend all day composing shots, shooting maybe 10 rolls of slide film
4. Slide films sent to a lab – the `lab’ was often a basement beneath a dingy camera shop
5. Day later we got strips of transparency images
6. Back to office, fire up huge light box and view pics with Mr Magoo sized magnifying glass
7. Argument breaks out amongst editorial staff on which shots to use
8. Use scissors to choose best images, individually wrap slides in bags, send for drum scan
9. Page Designer adds scanned images to text, plus incorrect caption
10. Saved pages sent off to printer, Cromalin proofs back two days later
11. Argument breaks out as to who reversed the image meaning it says `ADNOH’ not ‘HONDA.’
12. Final proofs signed off, magazine goes to print
13. Photos taken some two or three weeks previously finally appear in WH Smiths
That incredible labour-intensive process, which required experienced editors, journos, photographers, camera shop lab geeks, page designers, printers, van drivers and finally an assistant in a newsagents to sell the magazine, is rapidly vanishing – or gone. Seen many camera shops, or job vacancies for journalists lately?
We are all bloggers now with spelling and grammar apps to correct any mistakes, or Smartphone photographers with Photoshop Lite, Instagram or Pinterest to edit our pictures. We publish our content for free via social media, instead of selling it. Companies sponsor blogs and product reviews, instead of bribing journalists with freebies and alcohol-fuelled product launch parties.
Things are still changing fast; surely it’s only a matter of time until a Magazine Editor app allows us to publish our own monthly or weekly titles, packed with slick photos and short video clips, then sell them for 99p, with Amazon, Google or Facebook taking a cut of that revenue?
That day will come and when it does, that spells the end of the newsagent, along with a huge part of the existing `paper’ newspaper and magazine industry. Kodak isn’t the only media giant staring down the barrel of bankruptcy, it’s just that some publishers don’t have the vision to see what’s hurtling towards them on the social media horizon.
Our whole idea of what publishing is, what photography is, and how people `work’ within those industries will continue to change, as the pace of social media technology quickens and our digital lives evolve. Nobody is immune from these changes, so brace yourself; it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
Twittering on @npointsocial