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Cameras and Communities

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100yearsofcamerasTechnology has always fascinated me.

Not so much for the gears and circuits and construction of it, but the uses and abuses we put it to in our daily lives.  One of the technologies I always enjoyed was photography. From the Kodak brownie of my youth through Polaroids, and Instamatics to video cameras, and then digital still and video cameras, memorializing life through photography has always been fun. In fact, the photo on this post is just a quick round up of cameras in my house showing a motion picture camera from the 1930 that my Dad used through the early 1960s, a Kodak Rainbow camera that’s about 100 years old, a stereopticon used for home entertainment and assorted digital cameras including a flip video.

Yesterday I read that Kodak was discontinuing the production of their Kodachrome film after a 74 year run. Developed in 1935, Kodachrome was the first commercially successful color film, and grew to be loved by still and motion picture photographers.  46 years ago Abraham Zapruder used it to film the assassination of President Kennedy, and 36 years ago, the country rocked to Paul Simon’s ode to Kodachrome.

It got me thinking

The box camera was a neat invention. When George Eastman forst sold it 128 years ago, it was loaded with enough film for 100 exposures. The price of the camera was $25.00 and the cost to develop the film was $10.00 (consumers needed to send the entire camera back to the lab for development, where the film was removed from the light tight container, and a new roll of film was installed, before the camera was sent back to the consumer with their developed prints).

The next step was the growth of home based darkrooms where amateur photographers could manipulate the photos  through the tricky and often complex process of developing and exposing the film to morph the photo into an artistic expression of the photographer’s vision. Using more light or less light, or different chemical mixes could help the talented amateur achieve great results.

But that’s not the case..

Today we’ve lost that experience along with the need to process our film after the event is concluded and the camera has returned home. Our phones and cameras let us review our work immediately and to manipulate the figures through our online service like Flickr or on our computer.  But our ability to use technology to help us express ourselves or share beauty or family experiences has grown so exponentially that I am willing to trade the “darkroom experience” for the ease of manipulating digital photos or videos. And to trade the photo album for photo sharing.

When Eastman sold his first box cameras, photos were moving from being formal to being pat of our daily lives. But when they were taken, we put them in albums and saved them for later. Of course we might share photos in a small way by making a copy for Mom or Dad or some other family member, but photos were taken by us, for us, displayed often, but  taken out only rarely once they had been put into an album.

Photos are for Sharing

Today taking photos is really more about sharing our experience and vision than it has ever been. Teresa Boardman showed me that Flickr was not a place to store digital images, or to mine for graphics through creativecommons.org , but a community of people that share their experience and vision through their common use of digital photography.  Since she opened my eyes, and I began sharing more of my photos of Flickr, I have met new folks, joined groups that commented on photos that I took, had one of my photos published in an online travel guide, and viewed tons of awesome photos taken by others that gave me ideas for my own photos and inspire me to take more and better pictures (and sadly I’m pretty syre that it will be in that order).

So let me share my epiphany with you and suggest that you might also enjoy some sharing and viewing in this new world of photography. We might have lost Kodachrome, but what we’ve gained seems much more significant to me – What do you think?

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Lani Rosales

    June 24, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    Bill, your epiphany is now my epiphany. We have some antique photo equipment in our family and hell, I count my cell phone’s old camera to be an antique. People say we’ve sold our souls and lost something but I’m with you- mourning a loss of passing technology is only for nostalgia if you’ve gained more than what you’ve lost.

    Photography is beautiful- it’s modern expressionist art in its finest form and the pace we now run is much faster but so rewarding. I WILL say though that from experience, I can tell you that Flickr can’t compete with physically being in a dark room with smelly chemicals (but then again, that’s my nostalgia speaking, not my practical side).

    Bill, you should come see the Fritz Henle exhibit at UT, Chris & Marie Lengquist came to visit recently and we went, it was amazing, it even had some of his old equipment!

  2. Chris Lengquist

    June 24, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    I was summoned here through the powers that be. I say “Be Gone!” darkrooms and film. It smells, it’s not easily manipulated and storage has to be handled with much space and great care. Digital allows expressionist freedom in ways only before imagined.

    Photos are meant to be shared. I would say the only negative to all of this is that many people think their photographs are unique or good or (even worse) great. But they are not. Digital allows regular folks to create thousands of pretty good photos. But to see great photographs, photographs that move people, you still need the camera (with whatever the medium may be, ie film, pixels, etc) in the hands of a professional.

    Real estate agents like to think that since they sell houses and they own a camera that their photos are good. I’ve read a hundred times that consumers notice the differences and linger longer at the pro shots. So it seems that REALTORS are in denial on this subject.

  3. Bill Lublin

    June 24, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    Lani; I had no idea you had darkroom memories like I did (I even confess to having learned to like the smell) though I’m sure your were even more creative. Always glad to share an epiphany with friends. Better be careful though with the UT invites you might end up with me in Texas 😉

    Chris: I agree about the poor jobs so many people do – for some reason all the real estate agents with cameras seem to rush through and accept anything without thinking about how they can help maximize the experience of viewing the house online. I do think that the more pictures we take the more pictures we want to take and the more we stand to learn from the experience – or maybe I’m being overly enthusiastic about the experience I enjoy 🙂

  4. teresa boardman

    June 25, 2009 at 7:12 am

    Bill – I think people have always had a desire to share photos. There are so many of them in boxes and closets, the internet gave us a way to share.

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Business Marketing

No-reply emails don’t help customers, they’ve run their course

(MARKETING) No-reply emails may serve a company well, but the customers can become frustrated with the loss of a quick and easy way to get help.

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no-reply mail boxes

Let me tell you a modern-day horror story.

You finally decide to purchase the item that’s been sitting in your cart all week, but when you receive your confirmation email you realize there’s a mistake on the order. Maybe you ordered the wrong size item, maybe your old address is listed as the shipping location, or maybe you just have buyer’s remorse. Either way, you’ve got to contact customer service.

Your next mission is to find contact information or a support line where you can get the issue resolved. You scroll to the bottom of the email and look around for a place to contact the company, but all you find is some copyright junk and an unsubscribe option. Tempting, but it won’t solve your problem. Your last hope is to reply to the confirmation email, so you hit that trusty reply arrow and…nothing. It’s a no-reply email. Cue the high-pitched screams.

Customers should not have to sort through your website and emails with a microscope to find contact information or a customer service line. With high customer expectations and fierce ecommerce competition, business owners can’t afford to use no-reply emails anymore.

Intended or not, no-reply emails send your customer the message that you really don’t want to hear from them. In an age when you can DM major airlines on Twitter and expect a response, this is just not going to fly anymore.

Fixing this issue doesn’t need to be a huge burden on your company. A simple solution is to create a persona for your email marketing or customer service emails, it could be member of your team or even a company mascot. Rather than using noreply@company.com you can use john@company.com and make that email a place where your email list can respond to questions and communicate concerns. Remember, the whole point of email marketing is to create a conversation with your customers.

Another great strategy for avoiding a million customer service emails where you don’t want them? Include customer service contact info in your emails. Place a thoughtful message near the bottom of your template letting people know where they can go if they’re having an issue with the product or service. This simple change will save you, your customers, and your team so much time in the long-run.

Your goal as a business owner is to build a trusting relationship between you and your customers, so leave the no reply emails behind. They’re annoying and they might even get you marked as spam.

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Business Marketing

Influencer marketing isn’t new, it’s actually centuries old

(MARKETING) You may roll your eyes at sexy strangers hawking snake oil on social media, but influencer marketing is nothing new…

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Influencer marketing people taking video on a smart phone to record dances.

Influencer marketing is now one of those buzzword phrases that you can’t go a few days without hearing. In fact, it’s become such a popular term that it was officially added to the English Dictionary in 2019.

While this is a recent change, the concept of an influencer is nothing new. For years, people have looked to friends and family (as well as high-profile people like celebrities) to be influenced (intentionally or unintentionally) about what to buy, what to do, and where to go.

Social Media Today notes that influencers date back centuries.

One of the first “influencer” collaborations dates back to 1760, when a potter by the name Wedgwood made a tea set for the Queen of England,” writes Brooks. “Since the monarchy were the influencers of their time, his forward-thinking decision to market his brand as Royal-approved afforded it the luxury status the brand still enjoys today”

Now, influencers are known as people blowing up your Instagram feed with recommendations of what to wear and stomach flattening teas to buy. Influencers are basically anyone who has the ability to cultivate a following and, from there, give advice on how followers should spend their money.

After the 1760 tea set influencer, influencers were found in the forms of fashion icons (like Coco Chanel in the 1920s, and Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s), celebrity endorsements (for example, all of the money Nike made in the ‘80s after signing Michael Jordan to be their spokesperson – I wonder if Hanes is raking in the same bucks as Nike…), TV stars endorsing products (like Jennifer Aniston when she was at the height of “The Rachel” cut and became the face of L’Oreal Elvive; now she’s the face of Aveeno).

Then in the mid-2000s, blogs became a space where “everyday” people could use their voice with influence. This trend has continued and has shifted into social media, usually with a blog counterpart.

Now, blogging and influencing is an industry in and of itself with influencer marketing being a key form of comms. According to the HypeAuditor report, the influencer industry will be worth $22 billion by 2025. Where can I sign up?

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Business Marketing

The use of offline marketing can still be advantageous in a digital world

(BUSINESS) Offline marketing is usually skipped over nowadays for the sparkly, shining ‘digital’ marketing strategies, but don’t forget the roots.

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offline marketing billboard

Everywhere you look, people want to talk about digital marketing. In fact, if you don’t have a digital marketing strategy in today’s business world, you’re not going to last long. But just because digital marketing is popular, don’t assume that offline marketing no longer yields value.

When used together, these strategies can produce significant returns.

“Some people will argue that traditional marketing is dead, but there are several benefits to including offline advertising in your overall marketing campaign,” sales expert Larry Myler admits. “Combining both offline and online campaigns can help boost your brand’s visibility, and help it stand out amongst competitors who may be busy flooding the digital space.”

How do you use offline marketing in a manner that’s both cost-effective and high in exposure? While your business will dictate how you should proceed, here are a few offline marketing methods that still return considerable value in today’s marketplace.

1. Yard signs

When most people think about yard signs, their minds immediately go to political signs that you see posted everywhere during campaign season. However, yard signs have a lot more utility and value beyond campaigning. They’re actually an extremely cost-effective form of offline advertising.

The great thing about yard signs is that you can print your own custom designs for just dollars and, when properly stored, they last for years. They’re also free to place, assuming you have access to property where it’s legal to advertise. This makes them a practical addition to a low-budget marketing campaign.

2. Billboards

The fact that you notice billboards when driving down an interstate or highway is a testament to the reality that other people are also being exposed to these valuable advertisements. If you’ve never considered implementing billboards into your marketing strategy, now’s a good time to think about it.

With billboard advertising, you have to be really careful with design, structure, and execution. “Considering we’re on the move when we read billboards, we don’t have a lot of time to take them in. Six seconds has been touted as the industry average for reading a billboard,” copywriter Paul Suggett explains. “So, around six words is all you should use to get the message across.”

3. Promotional giveaways

It’s the tangible nature of physical marketing that makes it so valuable. Yard signs and billboards are great, but make sure you’re also taking advantage of promotional giveaways as a way of getting something into the hands of your customers.

Promotional giveaways, no matter how simple, generally produce a healthy return on investment. They increase brand awareness and recall, while giving customers positive associations with your brand. (Who doesn’t love getting something for free?)

4. Local event sponsorships

One aspect of offline marketing businesses frequently forget about is local event sponsorships. These sponsorships are usually cost-effective and tend to offer great returns in terms of audience engagement.

Local event sponsorships can usually be found simply by checking the calendar of events in your city. Any time there’s a public event, farmer’s market, parade, sporting event, concert, or fundraiser, there’s an opportunity for you to get your name out there. Look for events where you feel like your target audience is most likely to attend.

Offline marketing is anything but dead.

If your goal is to stand out in a crowded marketplace where all your competitors are investing heavily in social media, SEO, PPC advertising, and blogging, then it’s certainly worth supplementing your existing digital strategy with traditional offline marketing methods that reach your audience at multiple touchpoints.

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