Growth

Death by smartphone: Family portrait business collapses with nearly 300 jobs lost

Patrick Stafford /

Family portrait business PixiFoto has been shut down, with more than 280 employees put out of work, after its parent company Photo Corporation Australia entered administration last week.

The plethora of consumer-based digital cameras and the falling prices of more professional grade equipment played a large part in the collapse, administrator John Morgan of BCR Advisory told SmartCompany this morning.

The collapse highlights how smartphone and tablet technology has decimated industries, including book publishing.

“There’s no doubt,” he says. “Ten years ago, it was in high demand. It’s just not anymore.”

Photo Corporation Australia had two major entities. The first was a school photo business, which according to Morgan remains “highly profitable” and was sold off very quickly.

“The school business is a different type of animal, there is still demand for that,” he says. “But where there is a lack of demand is where these studio businesses are giving family portraits.”

“With technology being the way it is, the demand just isn’t there.”

PCA has traded since 1971, and most of its outlets have been in retail locations such as Kmart, MYER and Target stores.

In a statement today, the company confirmed it had shut down PixiFoto and would begin to “maximise the value of the Company’s assets for the benefit of stakeholders”.

The downfall of established photography businesses has been well covered. In the United States, film producer Kodak applied for bankruptcy protection last year, while the rise of digital photography businesses has continued to grow.

The advent of high quality cameras on smartphones has led the rise of sharing services such as Instagram – professional photographers find it much harder to win new business.

This is especially due to falling equipment prices – high-end cameras are now more affordable than ever.

All of these elements, says Morgan, contributed to the downfall of the company.

“People may go to these types of portrait services, but now on the scale they were 10 years ago.”

“There is still room, though. Little guys might be able to make a decent living out of it if they can do it well. But not on the scale it used to be.”

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Patrick Stafford

Patrick Stafford is a freelance journalist and a former deputy editor of SmartCompany.

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