Feature Article - May/June 2019

Photo Ops

Taking Advantage of Digital Camera Incentives

By Emily Tipping

When I was in my early 20s, I took a month-long road trip to the West Coast and back with a couple of friends. I had the most basic little camera, and I can remember buying as much film as I could afford and then trying to conserve it to last the whole trip. Then, after we got back, I had to save up again to develop all those photos.

In retrospect, I ought to have taken more pictures of people. Even so, the photos I have are cherished.

Nowadays, it would be completely different. Rather than relish every developed photo that helped tell the story (and feel frustrated over the ones that don't work), I would take 20 times as many photos, some with my DSLR and some just in the spur of the moment with a smartphone, and then choose the ones that worked—not feeling any frustration over wasting money on film and developing for photos that don't work. Then I'd share them via message or social media or some other unheard-of-20-years-ago medium.

In a quarter century, the way we take pictures and videos, the way we store those images, and the way we share the stories they tell have completely changed. They've changed so much that many people are able to do all of these things without ever purchasing a camera.

Which is why those who make cameras have had to (once again) completely change their game. Cameras that simply do what a smartphone can do (while also doing all the other things a smartphone can do and fit into a pocket) have gone by the wayside. But that doesn't mean you can overlook cameras and their importance.

Anyone who wants to develop their skill at photography is going to step up to better camera models. In addition, anyone who has been frustrated by the inability of a smartphone to catch the moment—whether because it's too hard to get close to the action, because the action is too fast to capture, or for many other reasons—will eventually realize that the only way to capture a moment effectively is with a machine designed to do just that. And that means a camera, whether one of the new high-zoom versions that gets you close to the action, high-speed models that catch the most minute moments, DSLRs that step up the creative game or video cameras made to catch action as it happens.

"Storytelling is at the height of popularity, from people capturing everyday moments and photographing family milestones to those people who have a passion for photography and everything in between," said Larry Rougas, director of Sales & NPS, Nikon Inc. "Cameras with technology that allows individuals to switch seamlessly from still photography to video is important, as more and more consumers want to capture moving images to tell a larger story. In addition, technology that allows you to easily connect to your smartphone via Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth for easy sharing on social media is essential."

Cameras' ability to capture moments and tell stories more effectively allows them to continue to hold their place as an indispensable incentive or reward option.

Carey Berg, vice president of Special Markets, Vivitar-Sakar, said cameras maintain their appeal because they are easy to take with you when you travel, preserve memories for the future and can even provide a sense of adventure, when you get into action cams and drones.

"They are widely applicable to experiential travel and corporate events," said Matt Osborn, CEO of Premium Incentive Sales Inc., "and are a great item to share with a recipient's entire family and friends."

But, because of the rise of smartphones, the camera market has changed, and what you offer to your audience should change as well.

"We're repositioning the category away from traditional cameras because of the smartphones to emphasize that which smartphones cannot do," Berg said. "Drone cameras, waterproof cameras, sports action cams, home security cams and binoculars with built-in picture-taking ability" are some examples.

Read on to find out more about what cameras can do that smartphones can't, and to find out which types will have the most impact in your incentive, recognition and rewards programs.