The Covid crisis has taken its fair share of scalps, but while other shows have been postponed, the decision has now been taken to end Photokina indefinitely.
Photokina, believe it or not, is 70 years old. It was first held in Cologne, in Germany in 1950, and has been held every other year since 1966 at the Koelnmesse Trade Fair and Exhibition Centre in Duetz. It grew into one of the world’s largest photographic trade shows.
The last show took place in 2018, with the organisers planning to start a new biennial cycle in 2019, but they decided instead to wait until 2020, when unfortunately as we all know, Coronavirus hit. The organisers decided to cancel both Photokina 2020 and a potential show in 2021. However today the show’s organisers have announced that Photokina is now on hold indefinitely, unlikely to begin again.
The end of Photokina
In a press release they stated that even before the Coronavirus pandemic began the imaging market was already subject to upheaval, with annual declines in the double digits. This trend increased in intensity during 2020, for obvious reasons, with decline hitting nearly 50 percent.
Oliver Frese, Management Board member and Chief Operating office of Koelnmesse went on to say, “While there are more photographs taken today than ever before, the integration of smartphone photography and videography, together with image-based communication, e.g. via social media, was not able to cushion the elimination of large segments of the classic market. As a result, the overall situation is not compatible with the quality standards of photokina as a globally renowned brand representing the highest quality and professionalism in the international imaging market.”
The show’s organisers have made the decision in coordination with the German Photo Industry Association. The chairman of the association, Kai Hillebrandt commented, “Our partners in Cologne have done everything in their power to maintain photokina as the leading global trade fair. Nonetheless, an event held in 2022 could not have met the expectations of the entire imaging community that those efforts were intended to serve. That is why we, on behalf of our association, are joining them in taking this regrettably unavoidable step. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the team in Cologne for a tremendous 70 years together!”
This is undeniably sad news, and in a tough year for all shows it does call into question how long many of the others can hold out for. But it also shows the huge shifts that have taken place over the years in how people take photographs. There’s likely going to have to be a lot of soul searching happening for those shows that remain in a world that has now largely shifted to online events as a result of the pandemic.