PMA 2008 was a personal adventure

There were signs of a straining economy at the Photo Marketing Associaton show in Las Vegas last week. There were fewer smaller “indie” booths at the South Hall convention Center floors, making it easier to cover. A sign of trouble for the imaging industry?

If you ask Vegas cabbies, yes. They are like nature’s wildlife that can sense a bad winter. All of the drivers told me things are slowing down and that it was getting worse.

My main story this year was the new green footprint photo lab competition between HP and Kodak. Both are pushing dry photo labs, Inkjet and Dye Sublimation respectively.

Check out my story at: http://www.canada.com/edmontonjournal/columnists/steve_makris.html

My next column in the Saturday Journal is on some of the cool technologies I found at PMA, and not from big-brand players, but inventive photo-gadget makers taking a big chance at the show.

Too bad for the fast-disappearing silver halide wet prints. I tend to be anal when it comes to printing and can spot the tiny inkjet dots on prints (especially on highlights and single colours) or the burn lines of dye sub prints. Nothing will replace the smootheness of wet prints. Call me old-fashioned.

My biggest personal challenge at PMA was getting my story and pictures out to the Journal. I left my Lenovo Tablet PC on the first leg of my trip, on a WestJet plane in Vancouver. I realized that too late, before boarding my connecting flight to Vegas and despite WestJet’s fast reaction, my Tablet was off to another destination in inner British Columbia!

Thankfully, the WestJet folks actually called the airplane, midflight, and found my laptop where I had left it.

But due to U.S. cross-boarder regulations, WestJet was not able to get my laptop back to me, like those miraculous TV ads they have. But they kept it safe and I got it back to Edmonton.

This left me with my trusty Rogers BlackBerry Curve and my Creative ZEN MP3 player to write and record interviews. It worked like a charm ( I carry several thousand emails on it, so I am never short of resources) letting me fine-tune my story while waiting for cabs, restaurant service and whenever my hands were idle. Yes, I wash my hands frequently.

Goes to show. Sometimes little gadgets can do a big job.

This weekend I changed work hats. I become a freelance technology and travel photojournalist, after taking early retirement from the Edmonton Journal, where I had worked for the past 39 years. Early? Scary. Freedom 58!

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