What Kodak needs....seriously
(A fictional prediction based on the real events of the resurrection of Gibson USA guitars by Henry Juszkiewicz and David Berryman)
Kodak, one of the world's foremost manufacturers of film and photographic paper and, has enjoyed the respect of photographers for most of its century-long history. Its film and paper have been used by some of the best photographers known, including Ansel Adams, the Richard Avedon, Irving Penn and Yousef Karsh. The company fell from its status as a premier film maker to near bankruptcy in the 2010s but was brought back to solvency and its former respect by new owners, Henry Juszkiewicz and David Berryman. Although best known for its photographic films and papers, by the mid-2010s the company also produced film cameras, lenses, and darkroom equipment.
Turnaround under New Owners
Juszkiewicz, who took over as company chairman, was eminently suitable to reverse the company's fortunes. A long-time Kodak film enthusiast and photographer, he had started selling and showing prints in high school and college. In addition to a film photographer's sensibility and an appreciation for the company's products, Juszkiewicz brought an MBA from Harvard and some tough business experience to bear on Kodak's problems.
Juszkiewicz and Berryman began by firing 30 of Kodak's 250 employees, including all of the company's top management. They then began a series of acquisitions, including the purchase of Kenko, a manufacturer of film cameras and lenses, in 2012; "Impossible" Corporation, makers of instant film, in 2013; Bostick and Sullivan, makers of alternative process products; Jobo Analog, manufacturer of film processing equipment, and Omega, maker of professional quality darkroom equipment, in 2014. They also purchased the rights to the Agfa name and began re-creating classic Agfa film and paper products.
Reissues of classic films and papers played an important role in refreshing the company's reputation. To re-create popular emulsions, such as Azo, the company retooled its factories and did MRI and liquid chromatography on preserved boxes of Azo to study their design. The popularity of these reissues encouraged Kodak to offer a special commemorative line of films (like Super-XX) for its 150th anniversary. In each month of of that year Kodak released a different film and paper. In addition to reviving the classic Kodak emulsions, the partners reestablished the company's chemistry division and expanded its line of products to alternative process products used in carbon printing, platinum printing and even a lines of daguerrotype and wet-plate products.
Since taking over the company the partners have made strong efforts to win back the loyalty of successful photographers. Much of the old Kodak aura could be attributed to famous film photographers, such as Ansel Adams and Edward Weston. The company created a new operation to custom craft and coat special emulsions for artist and photographer celebrities. In addition, Kodak began wooing endorsements from well-known contemporary photographers by providing them with film and paper. Famous photographers who renewed or began endorsing Kodak included Annie Leibovitz, Andreas Gerske, Cindy Sherman, John Sexton. Many other digital photographers have joined the ranks of Kodak film users, such as John Paul Caponigro, David Black, Brian Moose Peterson and Joe Mcnally.
Last edited by ic-racer; 01-21-2012 at 12:06 PM. Click to view previous post history.
It's nice to dream but comparisons are futile. Gibson made great guitars in the '50s and early '60s..then got lost. Quality slipped, the true art of craftsmanship went out the window, and years of mediocrity ensued. But, "The" guitar didn't change...Gibson did. To resurrect their name, they first needed to start producing their iconic product (The Les Paul) with the same attention to detail as they did back in 1958-1961. Yes, wood has changed, Brazilian rosewood used for fingerboards back in the '50s and '60s is no longer available or much different. Pick up magnets are not the same and machine wounding assured precision but usually predictable and stale tone. Not what made the guitars of the past truly special and unique, piece by piece. Fast forward 50+ years and the guitar is essentially the same. It was just a matter of getting their proverbial shit together and move it into the new century by remembering what made them great in the first place. For Kodak, for as much the dream sounds appealing, is a matter of new technologies replacing the old at the consumer level. Endorsements from a bunch of old and iconic film names is not going to bring a 15 year old to pick up film, camera, paper and start breathing chemical fumes again. It's a lot easier to pick up a new Historic Les Paul Standard and a Marshall amp and make some good noise, just like the old days. Some things never change but for Kodak a lot has and they simply missed the boat. This is not to say that they couldn't revive things as a smaller group and once again focus on what made them great 50 years ago, but that would hardly be a success story.
But a setup like that will cost you. A good film camera and a few rolls of Portra is waaaaay more obtainable for people like me. The only 'inconvenience' is to makw the most of it you have to print it yourself or send it to a decent lab
Originally Posted by MaximusM3
"I have captured the light and arrested its flight! The sun itself shall draw my pictures!"
-Louis Daguerre, 1839-
I don't think this will help Kodak. The world is digital. This just makes Kodak an company competing in a small specialized market. I don't see shrinking Kodak to match the market is a "turn around." Kodak will need to do something special to regain its place in the photographic industry.
But Kodak could focus on analog photography products. It would be nice to see Kodak survive. But maybe the market is really not big enough for the current players. But if Kodak fails, this might make Fuji and Ilford stronger and the film market stronger as well as each player gets a bigger slice of the pie by filling in the vacuum Kodak leaves behind.
True...but it can be a one time expense, for life. I still have my 1953 Tele that I bought back in the late '70s and it sounds better than it did when new. Of course, I couldn't afford one today, but film, paper, chemicals, time, various darkroom equipment are an ongoing expense. I remember going to my father for my first guitar and amp when I was 14 and it was hard work to get him to splurge. I can just imagine the scene if I had to go to him every time I needed more film, and darkroom supplies
Originally Posted by Existing Light
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Yes, buying up tiny niche companies and bringing back tiny niche products is not the way to regain a mass-market consumer base that never at any time cared about those things. And who doubts the quality of Kodak's products? Or at least their film products. Kodak's consumer empire was built on notions of ease-of-use and reliability. Kodak's current consumer offerings, are, well, not that.
Originally Posted by MaximusM3
"People get bumped off." -- Weegee
The bottom line is that Gibson, Harley Davidson and Fender are marketing nostalgia and they are doing better than when they were marketing a 'current product.' Someone needs to buy Kodak film division and do the same.
Agree, market the "good ol days", look at the marketing Formulary uses, "old time", seems to work for them.
Originally Posted by ic-racer
Bring back the classic look, cater to us, can anyone afford to do it, anyone's guess...
Last edited by zsas; 01-21-2012 at 01:12 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: fix link
The only thing that could help Kodak now is a time machine. There's no way they can make up a $2.6 billion pension liability by becoming a niche player. My own guess is that Kodak will be joining the ranks of "undead" companies such as Bell+Howell and Polaroid -- becoming little more than a brand-name for hire.
That would be a dream come true! Where could one purchase Kenko cameras in the US?
Helping to save analog photography one exposure at a time