Photography Is Now Antifragile


The photography industry landscape from KBS+ Ventures illustrates the complex web of relationships that now dominate imaging. No longer can a single company control its own destiny. In fact, the success of any company in imaging is dependent on how effectively it can build relationships with other companies in related businesses.

A few years ago, the situation was much different. Kodak controlled everything from cameras to film to print production. Kodak even had their own facility for refining silver to produce the silver salts required for photographic materials. Similarly, Creative Memories had everything required to preserve family photos, including boxes for storing photos, sleeves for holding negatives, and albums for completed projects.

Now, film is nearly non-existent, cameras make phone calls, and images themselves may exist only in a computer memory chip. These changes have taken place over the past decade and will continue.

Photographic turmoil has led to a new model for the imaging industry – one that no longer depends on the actions of large monolithic companies. Instead, photography relies on an array of interlinked companies, where no one company controls the market. Imaging is now “antifragile,” to borrow a term from Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder. The beauty of this change is that innovation will increase and we can expect that we will gain an ever-expanding array of new products and new choices.

Many companies will thrive. Facebook provides new ways to share images. They generate income through advertising. Shutterfly provides photo books and other photo products. Their sales grow each year. For each company that is failing, we will see another that is healthy and growing.

I’m looking forward to the future.


About Mark Mizen

I have over twenty years professional experience in all aspects of photography and digital imaging. I am Chair of the ISO WG5 TG2 committee responsible for physical properties and durability of imaging material and am currently with HID Global working on systems for security printing for IDs, licenses, and credit cards. Previously, I was Director of Digital Development at Creative Memories from 2009 to 2012 and was responsible for the Creative Memories digital products and services. I also established and directed the Creative Memories Technology Center, which evaluated new products prior to product introduction, assisted with production difficulties, and provided technical information to support product sales.
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