Fujifilm recently took to New York’s Grand Central to display a number of photos in their FUJIFILM Print Life Photo Exhibition.
Fujifilm is arguably in one of the best positions to push the idea of the printed photograph onto a modern audiences, perhaps even more so than Canon. Go to almost any lab or printing service in America and they’re most likely using Fujifilm’s color paper. Recently, Fujifilm raffled off a few Instax cameras and told participants that their images would be displayed in their new Print Life Photo Exhibit. In additional return for submitting images, Fujifilm let participants know that they’ll be sending them an 8×8 print of their photo after uploading their images. The result: over 13,000 entries–which may not sound like a lot but considering the scope of the prizes and what most folks in marketing will tell you, was significant.
Manny Almeida, Division President, FUJIFILM Imaging Division, FUJIFILM North America Corporation, gave me a personalized tour of the new exhibit. The images were printed on Fujicolor Crystal Archive Paper Type CA- Luster Finish which was selected to appeal to the consumer. This paper is a matte with just a little bit of sheen to it and looks gorgeous in most lighting situations that one would find around their homes. When asked about the format of the prints, Mr. Almeida explained that the images were cropped square for logistical reasons. With many entries being vertical and horizontal, it made the most sense to crop them into squares and provide the name of each participant along with their captions on the bottom. The result: it looks a bit like an Instax Square photo.
Printing is something that is very big in Fujifilm’s DNA. From this side of the news desk, I’ve never quite understood why the company has never pushed their papers in press releases or in any sort of media campaigns. Perhaps the answer to this is, well, they don’t need to. Lots of their business comes from the B to B sector where they sell to major outlets. Consumers in turn buy the printed matter which was done on Fujifilm’s paper. Unlike Canon, Epson, Red River, MOAB, and a few others, Fujifilm’s target has always been to retailers who will then do their job of printing and selling those images to consumers. You know those 8×10 prints from your parents’ wedding? They were probably done on Fujifilm paper.
Fujifilm’s biggest challenge with printing in the past few years has been getting folks to understand the need for a printed photo. Indeed, it’s quite superfluous to print an image and have it sitting there on a table gathering dust. In fact, most folks would find it useless. Despite this, prints are still making up the majority of Fujifilm’s business when it comes to paper products. However according to Mr. Almeida, speciality products are growing. “Acrylic, canvas…have really grown.” he states. “They’re growing 40% year after year.” Mr. Almeida continued to say that these “wall decor” products still haven’t surpassed prints but he’s confident that they will one day.
Mr. Almeida also spoke about new initiatives that Fujifilm is considering to bridge the gap between the idea of printing with their cameras. Fujifilm cameras have a printing functionality that works flawlessly with their Instax printers. With the Fujifilm SP-3, photographers get the ability to make an Instax print at just the right size to make it portable and easily shareable in real life. To that end, there has been considerations of making bundles with paper and even Instax printers.
The idea of the “Giftable product” really seems to be the future of the print–something even more niche that will hopefully command more money and therefore also put a bigger emphasis on the importance of printed art.