I’ve been hearing news of PDN folding, but have purposely not written anything due to nothing being official yet. But, the cat is finally out of the bag and Photo District News is gone. If you’re an industry veteran, you probably know how big this is. But if you’ve started with photography in the past few years, you’re probably not batting an eye. In my own career, I’ve seen PDN switch owners a number of times while scratching my head. When I first started out, nearly 13 years ago, I felt them to be nearly untouchable. But, the past decade has been very rocky for the photo industry. I’ve seen a number of publications fold, get revamped, etc.
Editor’s Note: You’re entitled to your own feelings, but this is my personal outlook that I’ve been carefully contemplating.
You can read more about the official death of PDN on AI-AP. Though PDN is gone, its sister publication, Rangefinder, will carry on in an online-only capacity. Speaking as a publisher, it’s going to be an uphill battle for them. They will need to do a lot of modernizations and revamps for it to become relevant in Google Search Results, grow the social channels, and look for other sources of traffic to keep staff supported. It’s the nigh equivalent of creating a start-up publication. After 10 years of running the Phoblographer, 2020 is one of the toughest times to start a publication due to just how much modern media is changing. Reading an article in three minutes is ultimately sometimes quicker and better than watching a 10 minute YouTube video. The entire media world is in such flux right now. Much of it is about sensationalization while exercising a healthy balance as much as possible.
So what does this mean for the Photo Industry? Well, a whole lot.
“The PDN online content will not vanish, and we’re looking for ways to ensure that what content there is will continue to be easily accessible, but there won’t be new content,” said a spokesperson for Emerald Expositions, which operates business-to-business trade shows in the United States, including the PhotoPlus show in New York and the WPPI show in Las Vegas, the largest trade show for wedding and portrait photographers and filmmakers. Both trade shows will continue.AI-AP
WPPI Is Still Going to Continue, But How?
WPPI is the Wedding and Portrait Photography International conference that happens in Vegas every year. At one point this was AN EXTREMELY BIG DEAL OF A SHOW! It’s a big one but it has become smaller over the years and evolved into being a show with a more diverse crowd. The show, which used to be mostly men, diversified in the past decade with the growth of social media. A decision was made a few years ago to move out of its traditional hotel home and into the Las Vegas convention center. That decision put a nail in the coffin that WPPI still hasn’t recovered from. What’s more, the industry became a lot more unpredictable. Sony releases new cameras and lenses every few months and the rest of the industry tries to keep up. While the conferences, seminars, and more were great, the gear side of the industry kept things going. WPPI used to be a place where big announcements were made, but so too was Photokina. With Photokina (not owned by PDN or Emerald) moving its dates, the show becomes less important to the overall economy of the photo industry. WPPI, and the way that the company did tradeshows to begin with, just isn’t working out that well anymore.
Photo Plus Will Continue, But How?
Photo Plus is a time everyone in the photo industry looks forward to. We converge on the Javitz Center and meet with one another. There are events, workshops, etc. But last year’s Photo Plus was pretty grim. Sony, in what I feel was a slap in the face to PDN, pulled out entirely and did an entire mini-show next to it. They managed to pack the place and consistently have a line down the block. It was better than what PDN did with Photo Plus. Photo Plus has also become more and more difficult for the press. The Phoblographer hosted its 10th-anniversary party around Photo Plus. And now I’m wondering how the show will keep going. Lots of manufacturers believed it to be too expensive and too small for what it is.
Photo Plus was always the most important show to the industry, economically. It’s when folks got to try stuff out before the holidays. But that’s not always the case anymore. Rental companies like Lens Rentals do a great job. Plus manufacturers work with more retailers like Best Buy to put their cameras in more hands. Even more importantly, workshops and meetups are helping photographers experience new gear in real-life settings. So, why does anyone need a big tradeshow anymore?
The PDN Awards
Though it hasn’t been confirmed yet, the PDN awards, in all its various flavors, are most likely gone with no PDN. While the online content will still be there, no new content will be created. The PDN awards have also become less important in the past years vs accruing Instagram followers and other awards like like the Red Bull Illume, World Photography Awards, etc. There was a time when careers were launched because of PDN awards, but that doesn’t seem to happen anymore.
Am I sad PDN is gone? I have very mixed feelings about it. I’m in awe that a publication as admirable as theirs took a downward spiral by not adapting to social media, YouTube, Google, etc.