Photokina logo (Pic: Photokina)
The first Photokina took place in 1950, and the show became the world’s biggest photography event (Pic: Photokina)

Photokina, the giant German photographic trade show that helped launch generation of film and digital cameras, has been suspended until further notice.

The event, first held in Cologne in what was then West Germany in 1950, had been the world’s largest photographic trade show. It was held every two years since 1966.

In an email to exhibitors forwarded to Kosmo Foto, Photokina said: “We can join the imaging industry in looking back upon a successful, colourful and innovative era: 70 years of Photokina in Cologne. Since 1950, for generations it has been the top address for photography, video and imaging. It indisputably ranks among the most positive and emotionally charged brands in the global trade fair world.

“This is precisely why it is an extremely difficult step for us to have to suspend implementation of Photokina at the location in Cologne for the time being, in light of the continuing steep decline in the markets for imaging products and the increasingly heterogeneous needs of the different market segments.

“Even before the coronavirus pandemic began, the imaging market was already subject to strong upheaval, with annual percentage declines in the double digits. The momentum in this direction intensified massively in 2020, most recently reporting a decline in the 50-percent range. Within Photokina, these market shifts grew very noticeable in the recent past. Conceptual changes, too, such as the inclusion of the smartphone and new imaging technologies, along with a change of cycle and a schedule change, were not enough to compensate for the downturn in the numbers and marketing budgets of exhibitors owing to consolidation of the classic market.”

The most recent Photokina, due to be held in May of this year, was cancelled at the last
minute
. The next event was due to take place in 2022.

“After decades of shared history, this deep cut is a painful one indeed,” the Photokina statement said. “Nonetheless, we must face the situation and the trend in the industry and take a clear, honest decision against continuing this event – a decision to which, unfortunately, we have no alternative.”

The decision to mothball Photokina makes the UK’s The Photography Show now the biggest photographic trade show in Europe. A virtual version of this event is earmarked for next March, followed by a physical show next September.

Stephen Dowling
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