Kathy Sierra on getting beyond P mode

Kathy Sierra’s question about digital camera usersstuck in pre-programmed “P” mode was answered by Kodak a century ago in its pioneering advertising. Before Kodak cameras, there was no such thing as “home photography”. In order to sell people on the new-fangled cameras, Kodak needed to introduce the idea of memorializing life cycle events and sentimental occasions. Kodak’s advertising started early with “how to” use a camera — its earliest ads focused on ease of use, but its landmark ads tought people why to use a camera.
Today, everyone takes the snapshot for granted. Now, a large number want to use newly affordable digital cameras to learn how to take better photos. Flickr is encouraging broader appreciation of the nuances of better photography. The techniques known to professional and skilled amateur photographers are now coveted by a larger number of people. The training that the Digital Camera class attendess is not in how to use the camera’s features, but in how a given feature is used for esthetic effect.
It takes a higher level of skill to take visually nuanced photographs than to take a snapshot of a kid blowing out birthday candles. Users need technical training in light, filters, focal lengths. In Kathy’s comments, a number of readers suggest that Canon isn’t responsible for technical training. Geoff Moore in his classic Crossing the Chasm series on high-tech marketing explans how to bridge that gap. Complicated products like software and cars develop a large “aftermarket” in the training and additional products needed to get users the “whole product” they are looking for — not just accounting software, but the skills to keep books; not just an automobile, but the services to keep it fueled and clean. Canon might not want to take on the very different business of providing training in popular art photography, but could cultivate a network of providers of photography classes, contests, clubs, and other services and incentives for people to learn how to make better pictures.

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