Nov 30, 2007

ScrapBassador General to the Photo Industry

I have seen a couple of ads in trade magazines by some larger manufacturers basically throwing down the gauntlet in the PMA/CHA fight. It has their names and logos and says basically, “We choose CHA”. Okay, fine.

So, here’s my version of it, “I choose PMA/Memory Trends”. I might be lonely there - and I don't even expect much from the Memory Trends side of the show THIS time, but I WILL be there. I am appointing myself a “ScrapBassador” to the Photo Industry and I intend to walk the aisles of that show and invite companies with products that would work well in the scrapbook industry to come play with us. There are SO MANY people who really haven’t paid attention to us because of the false perception we created about what we REALLY do.

For a long time, we considered scrapbooking to be a craft. It is on SOME levels, but really, it’s about memory preservation and not crafting. Crafters might enjoy scrapping, but many non-crafters enjoy it too. Recently, scrapping has been touted as “art”. Again, it might be artsy on SOME levels and artists might enjoy doing it, but the vast majority of the population falls between the crafters and the artists. They have photos that they just want to put somewhere along with the “who, what, where, why and how” of them.

Scrapping has been slammed in the media recently as being too cutesy and largely done by frumpy housewives with too much time on their hands. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have extra time in my day and I traded in my “mom jeans” (you know, the $15 ones with the peg-legs you get from Walmart) a long time ago.

On the other extreme, scrapping has been slammed from the inside as being too focused on the art of it. I must have missed the meeting where we (the scrapping universe) hammered out the standards for a page worthy of the “Hall of Fame”? Frankly, it removes the focus on the photos and stories and places it squarely on art. I think every person interested in preserving their history deserves to be called “Scrapbooker of the Year” just for getting those photos out of the shoebox. And, at the end of the day, the people you are preserving those memories for really don’t care if the photos are glued on construction paper and the stories written in crayon. They just want to remember.

So, if it’s not art and it’s not craft – at least when it comes to getting people interested and taking the industry off of life support – then why are we hanging out with art and craft companies? What does a yarn shop have in common with scrapbooking? You can use yarn on your pages, but other than that, there’s nothing that one can do for the other. The same holds true for a bead company. Those are just elements of the pages, not the central focus of the pages themselves. I know that retailers find fun stuff in the aisles at CHA. I have wandered outside the scrapbook section myself and discovered some fun stuff that could be used for scrapping. But, that’s all it is – stuff to put on a page. It doesn’t help me preserve the memories or photos.

But, what does a frame shop or a photo book binder or a photographic equipment company or a camera shop have to do with scrapbooking? EVERYTHING! Yet, those things are not “sexy” to us - it's hard to get excited about photo processing if you're a scrapbooker. The ribbons and brads and eyelets and textured cardstock will always be there – but how many more people are we going to be able to convince to use them? Crafters have already tried scrapping and they either burned out or they are firmly entrenched. It’s the REST of the camera owning population we have to turn to.

In my previous blog entry, I mentioned the Kodak shoebox photo scanner. I have been in this industry for 6 years now and I have heard of various scanners by the usual round-up of companies who have gotten involved in the scrapbook industry. But, I have never heard anyone talk about THIS scanner. Along with this scanner, I discovered a machine that can cut jigsaw puzzles that are 12” wide. Wouldn’t Grandma LOVE to have a puzzle of one of your scrapbook pages? I have also met with photo book publishers trying to figure out how to tap into the scrapbook industry. At this meeting I went to recently, several framers mentioned that many of their customers also scrapbook but they had never made the connection that they should reach out to scrappers with custom framing. We tend to buy the 12x12 frames off the shelf, but a custom-framed page would be beautiful. I ran across a company the other day that can take your jpeg file and turn it into a huge mural that adheres to your wall. Can you imagine a wall in your family room done in GIANT scrapbook pages or photos of your family? How about a LARGE digital frame that you could load your digital pages into and would constantly change like a giant wall scrapbook? I haven’t seen that yet, but it’s coming, I’m sure. If we are hanging out at the craft show, will we miss those things? Those things will be hanging out at the photography show while we are picking through collections of new eyelets and trying to figure out which line of paper (that all looks the same) will sell better. Yes, that stuff is important, but it makes us a dinosaur, too.

Technology will change the scrapbook industry and we can either arm our selves with our Cutterbees to keep it out, or we can go after it and embrace it. Retailers are struggling to figure out how to profit from digital scrapbooking. Maybe we are thinking wrongly about it. It’s not digital scrapping we need to figure out, it’s technology. We need to figure out how to embrace and welcome technology into the industry. Along with that comes a whole new set of “friends” – all interested in our success. Those people can be found at PMA. The non-scrapbook exhibitors at CHA just want to sell us more craft stuff to glue to our pages. They really aren’t interested in a partnership of success. The Photo Marketing Industry has issued us an invitation and I think we should take it and thank them for it. They have put photos at the center of their businesses and I firmly believe that we must also do that. There’s room for craft and there’s room for art, but at the end of the day, it’s all about the photos.


Angie Pedersen said...

Man, I would LOVE to walk that PMA floor with you, just to watch you WORK IT! ;) Can't wait to read your post-show report.

Kim Guymon said...

LOL - Can I borrow the crown for a few days?

susan said...

I'd love to walk it with you and Angie - a power team for sure! Be sure to wear comfy shoes - I've been to PMA several times and it is a big show - I mean really big!!