Press Releases

Photokina Decides It’s Time to Close for Good (for Now)

Things, they are a-changing.

The wheels of History sometimes turns ever so imperceptibly, but turn they do. A camera company changes hands, another closes down, sales decline, profits tumble, departments close, trade shows get postponed, then decide to close for good. And before we know it, the camera industry landscape has changed (or will change) to something we don’t recognize.

Photokina has existed for 70 years, reporting on the best in the photo imaging industry. That’s longer than most of us reading this has lived. Photokina announced today that it is closing down. But then, it might be argued, trade shows like Photokina were already facing a decline with the rise of virtual meetings and launches. However, it’s not just the move to virtual venues that is causing it’s shutdown; if people stop buying cameras, then trade shows like Photokina have no reason to exist anymore, and so reach a natural end.

So, Photokina is basically sending out a warning: the camera industry landscape has changed so much that we don’t believe it’s going to survive in its current form. Less and less people are going to be buying cameras — and switching more to smart phones.

Be it as it may, as much as we regret this turn of events, we can’t prevent these cogs from turning. So we bide Photokina a sad goodbye.

Interestingly, COVID-19 got a mention in Photokina’s press release. COVID-19, a 0.125-micron (a micron is 1/1000th of a millimeter, so 125 nanometers) sized protein that is not even alive (a virus is not considered a living organism, needing a host to function and replicate), simply accelerated the decline we are witnessing in the photo imaging industry. If people are afraid (or not allowed) to congregate in a trade show, then there’s no show. And unless we get a handle on COVID-19, that restriction will last many more years and negatively affect our economy in ways that we dare not even think of.

A virus like COVID-19 needs a host to function, replicate and be passed around. Block it, don’t allow it to be passed around by wearing a mask or keeping a good distance from others (because you don’t know who is carrying it), and you also bring a pandemic to an end. Think about it: If you don’t pass it on, then that virus hits a dead end. Technically, if the whole world shuts down for 14 days, we’ll be able to know who has COVID-19, treat those people, and COVID-19 is history. But that’s easier said than done, and hence why we are in such a mess.

What you and I, as individuals, can do, though, is not unintentionally volunteering ourselves as host to the COVID-19 virus that has accelerated this downturn in our beloved industry. We can’t wish the virus away; but we can block it from entering our body and we can refuse to act as a host and a spreader of the virus to our loved ones. Wear A Mask.

Press release

No 8 / Cologne, Germany, 27 November 2020

Photokina will be suspended until further notice

After 70 years, decreases in the imaging market force a hard cut

In view of the further massive decline in markets for imaging products, Koelnmesse has decided to discontinue organising photokina at its Cologne location for the time being. “Unfortunately, at present the framework conditions in the industry do not provide a viable basis for the leading international trade fair for photography, video and imaging,” according to Gerald Böse, President and Chief Executive Officer of Koelnmesse. “This hard cut after a 70-year shared history was very difficult for us. The trend in this industry, with which we have always had a close and trusting partnership, is very painful for us to witness. But we are facing the situation with a clear, honest decision against continuing this event, a decision to which, unfortunately, we have no alternative.”

Even before the coronavirus pandemic began, the imaging market was already subject to strong upheaval, with annual declines in the double digits. The momentum in this direction intensified massively in 2020, most recently reporting a decline in the 50-percent range. Recently, these developments have had a profound effect on photokina, which – in Cologne since 1950 – for generations has been the top address for the imaging industry and ranks among the most favourably and emotionally charged brands in the trade fair world.

Since 2014, Koelnmesse, together with the German Photo Industry Association, has taken its cue from downward market trends, responding with adjustments to the underlying concept of the trade fair as well as considerable investment in new exhibitor and visitor segments. “These changes in conceptual design, along with a shift in intervals and a change of dates, did not fundamentally improve the situation of the event,” says Oliver Frese, Management Board member and Chief Operating Officer of Koelnmesse. “While there are more photographs taken today than ever before, the integration of smartphone photography and videography, together with image-based communication, e.g. via social media, was not able to cushion the elimination of large segments of the classic market. As a result, the overall situation is not compatible with the quality standards of photokina as a globally renowned brand representing the highest quality and professionalism in the international imaging market.”

Koelnmesse has made its decision in close coordination with the German Photo Industry Association. Kai Hillebrandt, Chairman of that association, remarked: “Our partners in Cologne have done everything in their power to maintain photokina as the leading global trade fair. Nonetheless, an event held in 2022 could not have met the expectations of the entire imaging community that those efforts were intended to serve. That is why we, on behalf of our association, are joining them in taking this regrettably unavoidable step. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the team in Cologne for a tremendous 70 years together!”