Social media networks have taken root in the Middle East, and their rapid growth is a reflection of the changing trends in how people share information, including photos. In fact, the increasingly visual nature of social media has given rise to a global phenomenon called “social photography”- the intersection of technology, photography and social networking. Essentially, see it, shoot it, share it!
Along with social media, the digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) industry has witnessed unprecedented growth in the recent past, growing a staggering five-fold since 2009. One of the key drivers of this growth is the increasing popularity of DSLRs among today’s youth, who appreciate its superior-quality photos. With larger image sensors that allow for larger pixel sizes, and a wider range of light sensitivity options, DSLRs have the unique ability capture high-quality photos with much less grain than point-and-shoot digital cameras.
Remarkably, all of this is being achieved while the cameras are simultaneously becoming more and more compact in size, but still remaining affordable. As 18-25 year olds increasingly look to bypass point-and-shoot cameras in favour of professional cameras, the DSLRs’ favourable price point allows them to do so without leaving a dent in their wallets.
However, Nikon has come to understand that perhaps the most important factor attracting today’s youth involves the cameras’ ability to not just click pictures, but to allow photographers to easily share them too.
Photo-sharing research around the world has highlighted the popularity of the phenomenon among the youth. A study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project last year found that 69 per cent of 18-29 year-olds post original photos and videos online, with photos making up more than 60 per cent of the posts compared to video.
Social photography is being picked up particularly well by a growing number of teenagers who now cite behemoth Instagram as the most important social networking website. On a global level, over 40 million photos are uploaded to this platform each day. If a picture is worth a thousand words, one can only imagine how many stories are being told every day. This, coupled with the high youth population in the Middle East, indicates a huge potential for social photography in this region.
So what does the future hold for global camera producers? In order for these companies to keep thriving in this environment, they need to continue to develop innovative products that cater to these changing consumer needs. This includes providing ways in which photographers can easily transition between offline to online realms.
Cameras with built-in WiFi and GPS enable photographers to share pictures directly.
By syncing cameras with the now-ubiquitous smartphones, youth can now share their photos easily on social media, while also exploring a wide variety of creative photography options, from different angles to taking ‘selfies’ using a tripod.
This part of the world may be moving at a slightly slower pace, but it is evident that as social media continues to find its place in the Middle East, and photo-centred social networks begins to gain popularity here, it is just a matter of time before social photography comes into its own. The time is now for imaging companies to find creative ways to keep the click alive.
Takashi Yoshida is the Managing Director for Nikon Middle East.