kodak risks getting it wrong

Does this picture represent Kodak quality?

So my brother-in-law and I are strolling the grounds of the Locust Hill Country Club in Rochester, NY on Sunday enjoying the LPGA Championship there, presented by Wegmans.

A few quick notes – sadly, there are not enormous crowds respecting and enjoying the talents of these great golfers – happily, that makes it easier and more comfortable to get around. This is a MAJOR championship for Ladies Professional Golf Association (like the Masters and the PGA Championship for the men). My father-in-law and I have long agreed that the LPGA tournaments are some of the most enjoyable because of the the access and quality of golf guests experience. Also of note, most of the good merchandise is sold out by Sunday at these tournaments.

But now on to Kodak.

So Kodak was a huge American corporation based in Rochester and in spite of changes to photography that the company didn’t always weather well, the company seems to be enjoying a bit of a resurgence (a quick example, I own and enjoy my Kodak Zi8 video camera which I purchased in the past year based on a presentation I saw by Kodak’s very gracious Jennifer Cisney). This is all great for Kodak and the city of Rochester, NY. I want Kodak to succeed.

They are one of the sponsors of the LPGA Championship and as such had a fairly big tent with the chance for guests to get their picture taken with the LPGA Championship trophy as a free gift. A lady from Kodak stopped us and beckoned us into the tent for a picture and we said sure.

The above photo, taken by Kodak, had us standing in front of a green screen with the trophy on the podium. It was taken by what I assume was Kodak cameras, set up by Kodak staff and assembled on Kodak software to allow the images to be mixed.

Setting aside the obvious – that the two subjects (at least one of them) are not terribly photogenic in the best of circumstances- if you are Kodak, I would assume you would want this cute, silly throw away (possibly) memento to have outstanding photographic quality in reproduction, color, contrast, lighting, framing….the whole deal. Cameras, imaging and photo reproduction are what the Kodak brand is all about.

I looked at the picture and I thought – it looks as if my wife or anybody else could have taken it. It was washed out, the framing was odd (likely because of the background and the logo they put in) and basically I was underwhelmed.

Maybe I am highly critical because I’m more involved in media and marketing than most people. Maybe most people DON’T make the correlation between a photo booth picture and quality imaging and photography…but if they don’t, why would Kodak do the booth?

If you or I host a silly photo booth at a carnival with our little cameras, people aren’t expecting too much. But when you are Kodak – an iconic leader of photography and imaging in the U.S. and the world – I think people do and should expect higher quality and I think if you are Kodak you should want and expect to provide it.

I think Kodak tried to do the right thing here with the booth, I just think the execution needs to be tweaked. I know that it would be difficult to adjust photographic conditions for hundreds of individual photographs…but I think there’s got to be a better way for them to achieve a higher quality product even with a mass assembly line process.

It’s Kodak, it’s America – shouldn’t we expect their best?

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