How home security changed the photo industry

If you are like us, you have consumed a ridiculous amount of turkey and finally cleaned up the gift wrap. You may also be joining us in thinking hard about your upcoming year. What can be accomplished in 2013? There is infinite possibility!

Last week, we shared some of Jack’s holiday-inspired thoughts. In case you missed them, here is an important excerpt… We must constantly be in a learning mode.  When one stops learning – one soon becomes irrelevant.  There is a fine line between experience being your asset and experience being a form of baggage. 

The opportunities to learn are all around us.  We can find new information and skills from talking with others, from watching programs, from going to seminars, from going to trade shows, reading and much more.

For many, these comments seem like fluff. But it is with a heartfelt desire for constant improvement and a love for innovation that we share an example to illustrate the power of learning. Many of the significant advancements in every industry were right under the noses of those closest to the changes.

Here’s our story…

In the mid-eighties, a businessman visited a home trade show. The show contained all matter of impressive home-improvement projects including lawn equipment, windows, the latest in consumer electronics and home security devices (which all seem archaic now).

After making a few passes by a home security booth and seeing himself on the grainy black and white monitor used to display the feed from a security camera, he wondered if a user could print out the images from those cameras.

After speaking with the security booth representative, he learned that you could indeed print images from the security footage with the right set of hardware, cables and printer. Of course, the security expert warned, the printed images are rarely helpful because the security cameras are typically quite far from the subjects (hinting at what we now commonly refer to as poor resolution).

While not a good sell for the system as a security device, that conversation sparked another idea. Why not use this type of system in the photography world? Why not “record” a photography session simultaneously while photographing the client? How could this system allow clients to see their images?

The rest is history. This idea was soon tested for composite shoots. The idea was later adapted for portrait studios by synchronizing the video camera and screen with the film camera’s exposure (long before digital).

With a few other details and tweaks, this discovery eventually turned into the onsite proofing system that allowed Glamour Shots® to show images to their clients at the end of their photo session and receive an immediate printed proof. Viewing “video proofs” allowed the studios to have a sales session without the expense of printing proofs at a lab or requiring a customer to come back days or weeks after their session. It allowed the studios to take advantage of the excitement of the moment.

There was nothing new about this system in the security world, but it was industry-changing when applied to photography. Hundreds of stores and franchisees benefited from this simple application of an existing technology in a new way.

If you have been in the business world for very long at all you are keenly aware that change is the only constant. Open eyes and an open mind are the best tools you can arm yourself with. Let’s keep learning. Let’s make refinements. And as Jack stated last week….Let’s create and offer better products and services.  If we do that, the sales and profits will take care of themselves.  I truly believe that.

Here’s to a great 2013…with open eyes and open minds!


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