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The Dead Pixels Society returned to the annual DScoop Edge St. Louis World Expo global conference, hosting a Photo Imaging CONNECT mini-conference track at Dscoop Edge St. Louis World Expo, May 7-10, 2023, at the America’s Center conveniently located in the heart of downtown St. Louis, Mo. In addition to the excellent Dscoop education and networking program, there were four 45-minute sessions, two on Monday, May 8, and two on Tuesday, May 9, specific for the photo imaging segment.
The photo segments included:
Photo Merchandise Market Trends and Opportunities
The photo merchandise market continues to grow as more and more markets add products to their offerings. In this session, David Haueter of Rise Above Research and Sima Toltzis Morad, Global Commercial Market Development Manager, HP, presented trends in the photo merchandise market. Top-level forecast data was also provided. This session is sponsored by Mediaclip.
Haueter shared data from the 2023 US Photo Merchandise Forecast, including overviews on photo cards, books and professional photography. While the prevailing perspective is the market is growing slowly, he observes there are still opportunities for growth. As the consumers’ concerns about the economy continue, Haueter maintains demand for photo products will continue to be strong, especially as a meaningful and affordable gift option.
“For those consumers who bought more (photo products), the top reason was they bought photo products instead of more expensive gifts,” he explained. “We’ve been telling clients to use inflation to your advantage because a photo product, like a photo book, makes a great thoughtful gift and costs a lot less than jewelry and things like that.”
Partnering for Personalized Photo Products
At the Partnering for Personalized Photo Products session, featuring Allison Yates, Senior Director of Operations, Mixbook; Bruce Watermann, Founder and Executive Consultant, PrintReady Network; and Rusty Pepper, Head of New Markets & Partnerships, Taylor OnDemand, showcased the requirements of brands and for fulfillers/wholesalers in growing the personalized products business. In today’s marketplace, no single business has all of the pieces needed to be in the business. That’s why building strong partnerships, based on mutual respect and communication, is vital.
“A true partnership is not harmed by the truth,” said Watermann.
STRATEGIES FOR AI PHOTO PRODUCTS
A lively discussion on the impact of AI was held by Christina Teng, Senior Product Manager, Mixbook, and Jinny Jung, vice president, API Biz Ops, Picsart. Teng talked about how Mixbook is using AI to enhance the entire photo book-making process.
“We are utilizing it to improve the workflow,” she said. “Customers tell us they love the end result but it takes work to make a book. With everything on your smartphone, it’s challenging and hard to organize. Once you finally pick the photos that you want, you have a challenge trying to tell that story. We’re leveraging AI to actually better curate photos.”
Teng added consumers will embrace AI if it actually solves people’s problems: “That’s the other challenge we face. (Consumers) are overwhelmed by the number of photos.”
Jung explained Picsart is focusing on three areas of AI to serve the consumer and, eventually, the business world: Text to image, AI writing tool, and an avatar generator. While not a perfect solution yet, the technology is improving fast.
“You do have to work with prompts quite a bit to get it right,” she said. “When we try to create humans in general, they usually have a third leg or six fingers, which is pretty creepy, so you have to learn how to use text to your advantage.
“How we’re looking at it, for the business community is, especially for countries who are serving small business owners who don’t have the graphic design support, to create, you know, custom marketing materials, etc.. that this really [technology] shortens the timeframe to create content. You can create, using generative AI, an entire marketing suite for print in minutes.”
Jung added creatives looking to be successful in the future must master AI tools, rather than perceive them as a threat.
Much of the buzz in the photo output market is addressing the up-and-coming creative markets. These markets are not necessarily traditional “photo” output but are providing products beyond snapshots. The panel of speakers including Marie-Eve Lemieux, Chief Solutions Officer, Mediaclip;Hugh Eastwood, Managing Director, Photo Create Pty Ltd., and Rami Zetuny, Director, Mixam.
Following are some video highlights of some of the vendors in the supplier solutions center: