The more I think about it, the happier I’ve become with the idea. The photo industry has become a lively place filled with sparks and new energy. And I think it’s time for a significant change. In some ways, the photo industry needs a complete overhaul. I’m not just talking about the galleries, but the manufacturers as well. There needs to be something new, something totally different from everything else. This starts with company management.
Here’s a crazy opinion. I believe more women and people of color need to be in charge. Why? We’d do things in differently. There would be changes from the top down. The ways cameras are developed and created would be overhauled. The way photographers interact with them would evolve. I mean, why did it take a global pandemic for the dedicated camera to double function as a webcam? Why is it that current people in charge innovate as little as possible? Why can’t they innovate while preaching sustainability and market growth? And most importantly, why can’t they reach the masses anymore?
It’s true; most people don’t need dedicated cameras anymore. Their phones are good enough and convenient too. Camera manufacturers arguably lost that war. They also lost it with zooming point and shoots. The phone manufacturers preach the idea of DSLR quality and no one even bats an eye at a Sony or Canon camera as a result.
I’ve said that the photo industry needs to become more of a luxury community to survive. But I’m no longer sure that has to be the case. Now I believe companies need to open their doors more. I’ve seen this happen with a few camera companies. When the camera companies become more inclusive (and not just for the sake of profit), old trees will bear new fruit. But company culture needs to change and become more inclusive.
We’ve talked about this before. Remember the issue with Canon Philippines? I’m elated Canon USA tried hard to distance itself from that issue. Canon USA is trying, but it’s still not Leica and the fantastic work VP Kiran Karnani has been doing regarding inclusivity. They’re also not Sony, and all the work that the Alpha Female program has progressed into. And a lot of the industry is miles away from what Victor Ha and the group at Fujifilm have been doing. Even despite this, I believe the industry needs a lot more work. The photo industry can’t just say they support women and POC. Inter-sectional feminism needs to be lead and steered by fellow inter-sectional feminists. And this will, in turn, change the way photography is marketed and approached.
This is going to be incredibly important for future generations.
If you’re reading this and hyper-inflating my statement on feminism to fuel some anger you already have, then you need to step back and examine the way you work and think. To make this more accessible and digestible, consider the various movie industries. Hollywood has a specific market. Bollywood has an entirely different approach. (I’d know because I sat through musical after eye-rolling love triangle.) The Korean film industry is also way different. But they can all find ways to appeal to more people.
So why can’t cameras? When you look at cameras, they’re mostly doing the same things. There isn’t a lot of variation. But that’s what we need. And we need to do this with more women and POC. Sometimes that means more than just having some Japanese people on a team.