More Scuttlebutt in Digital Flash and Light Shaping market
Over the last few days I probed further into Studio Flash market. I joined photography discussion forums to ask questions than being a passive reader and also visited shops around NZ as a prospective buyer.
Many interesting experiences, I was booted out of photography forum for writing something on these lines “What are the risks with investing in Profoto, Broncolor, Bowens or Elinchrom as an investor. Newspaper used to be money minting business but not anymore due to internet. Can studio lighting become obsolete over coming decades.” Although my question was not graced with a response for what was posed by blinkered photogs but I nevertheless got my answers. An experienced photog replied “That line of thinking should be discussed at another forum, here we discuss the equipment we love, lust for and dream of working with”. That statement had an impact on me, sort of Harley Davidson fanboy chatter. Did not mind being kicked out after that 🙂
I also posed as a buyer at Photography Equipment vendors at Wellington, NZ. There are three brands that dominate here Bowens, Profoto and Elinchrom. Bowens having no after sales service i.e. repairs need to be done in Europe, Profoto being very expensive and having no entry level or intermediate level gear. Elinchrom has locally trained service repair technicians (this is a country of 4 million, yes just 40 lac humans with sheep outnumbering us), its a good feat to achieve for any company.
Few more observations, first, pretty much Lynch Flower in Desert all over again for me. Since this is a no growth market in West, only smart companies are growing, no new companies are entering.
Secondly, In India and other developing countries like Philippines, these Photogs make their own DIY softbox and light reflectors even in studios. Infact in Indian marriages, social events, birthdays etc I have hardly seen Photographer coming with light reflectors, softbox, this is complete contrast to West where nearly 100% of shooting at weddings are done with good gear. I remember in my own marriage in India not having seen light shapers or softboxes because they buy heavy junk so far which is not portable. So studio lighting means lighting in a brick and wall studio. I am definitely not choosy but its a contrast to see shabby quality of output produced at mass scale because of non discerning public as yet. All they use is a flash even in marriages. We deserve better in India, afterall marriages are one time affair for most and special occasion in any case.
Photoquip sales are just 20% in India and 80%+ via exports. I am only glad that most of the growth so far has been coming from no-growth-industry of developed West and only some from India. This ratio will gradually change, and it could still be embryonic but over long term it will change when-home-made light shaping / “jugaad” mentality changes, gears become more affordable and users more polished and customers demanding.