Without a doubt, I see the photography industry is booming. With digital SLR’s becoming more and more affordable, there has been an influx of enthusiasts turning their passion into a part time job or like myself, a full time career. Make no mistake, more and more Malaysians are looking like the ubiquitous tourist with a camera strap around their neck and the perfect shot for every occasion.
The market for photographers is huge because photography services are required in so many different segments such as commercial, weddings, events, portraits, cars, etc. Unfortunately, in terms of education, specifically photography courses being offered in local colleges and universities, I’ve heard complaints and feedback that standards are low and the quality of lecturers teaching these courses are relatively poor. The outcome is naturally a mediocre batch of photography students with little knowledge, experience and inspiration.
In the past decade, photography forums such as Photokaki.com and Photo Malaysia have been a major source and network for all things photography-related. Two years ago, a group of wedding and portrait photographers got together and formed the Wedding and Portraits Photographers Malaysia (WPPM) with an objective to raise photography standards and create a common platform for photographers to share ideas and network with industry players. Today, photography workshops, conferences and master classes are readily available but these events are mostly organized by photographers and the big Photography brands such as Canon or Nikon, none (that I know of) of which, are government linked or supported.
Seeing that this is a fast growing industry, the government can provide incentives or government aid to the arts, design and photography courses. Perhaps, more incentives such as scholarships, or funding to the art & photography schools to promote the arts, can be considered. Incentives could also be given to photography students in the form of discounts for photography-related products such as DSLRs, printers and software purchases.
On a positive note, the government currently provides a business loan for small startups (The SME Government Scheme). In my opinion, this is a brilliant way to encourage young, talented entrepreneurs with creative ideas to come out on their own and potentially revolutionize the different industries. The government can take this one step further by focusing on the arts sector and in this case, the photography industry.
To encourage the photography scene, nationwide and state competitions can be held on an annual basis. Photographs are a powerful marketing tool and it can even be used as an international marketing tool to promote tourism for the country or the different cities and attractions within Malaysia. Many years ago, the Spanish embassy in Kuala Lumpur held a photography contest in Malaysia (and I presume in a few other countries as well) requesting participants to submit their photos and the winner was presented with the opportunity to travel to Spain and photograph the country. What a great way to promote tourism and photography!
The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.