Mr. Eddie UdagawaCanon is just about to launch their eighth edition of Photo Marathon this year starting on November 4 in Mumbai. It is India’s biggest live photography competition but there were some questions which are still left unanswered. Observing the opportunity, we had a small interaction with Mr. Eddie Udagawa, Vice President of Consumer Imaging and Information Centre (CII), Canon India. He was kind enough to spare out some time with us and discuss this community-building exercise.

Well, here’s how it went.

This is the Eighth Edition of Photo Marathon in India. I just basically want to understand what’s the whole idea of organizing a Photo Marathon?

As we know it, Canon Photo Marathon is India’s biggest live photography competition where each participant tries to click the best possible photograph on the theme given under the pressure of time. This unique concept is an annual event that is also conducted in other Asian countries including Indonesia, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand & Vietnam, apart from India. Canon Photo Marathon India provides a platform to photographers to showcase their photography talent and build a relationship with fellow photographers like a community.

In India this live photography competition is only organized in Mumbai and Delhi. Is there any specific reason to that?

The event kicks off in Mumbai on November 4, 2017, and November 18, 2017, in Delhi. We had organized the event in Bangalore two years back but due to factors including management man-power and budget, it’s not been possible to include more cities even this year. Hopefully, we shall add more next time especially one in the Southern part of India.

The event requires one to register beforehand with ₹500 as Registration fees. Don’t you think it would attract more participation if it would be free?

Earlier, it was used to be free for anyone to attend. This only increased the drop rate because a lot of people who registered never show up so our preparations never seem to be up to the mark. This preliminary registration ensures to filter out interested attendees and also helps us to plan it accordingly.

According to you, how is photography culture evolving in India?

India is a big market with a diverse audience. Photography culture, especially amongst the youth is progressively evolving in India. During our last Photo Marathon, we had introduced students category where kids aged between 12-17 years also participated in the competition.

We were quite surprised with the creativity of the kids. Judging the results based on a restrictive surrounding and with the limited resources it was hard for the jury to pick the best. Kids nowadays are highly creative and with the accessibility of DSLRs at such an early stage, this might lead their professional career in future or at least a progressive hobby one day. Also, this helps us in a way that our brand outreach gets straight to them from the beginning which is good for a long-lasting community belonging.

How are these Photo Marathon or workshops helping Canon?

Canon being the organizer definitely increases its brand awareness amongst the audience. Photo Marathon as an event creates an opportunity for us to reach people who might have not even used Canon products. Anybody with any camera can participate just that it should not be a smartphone. No matter if it’s from Nikon, Sony, Panasonic or even if its a DSLR or not the participants can still register themselves for the photography competition.

Addition to this, there’s a demo area at the venue where we display our Canon products across different portfolios. A service camp is also set up at the venue for Canon users to get their camera or lens serviced. In all, it helps Canon as a brand to connect with people.

What’s different this year at Photo Marathon 2017?

Observing the youth participation, this year there will be a Selfie Corner with camera cut outs etc. for participants. Being a day-long event, this time along with bands there will be an illusionist show for entertaining the attendees.

This eighth edition, the Grand Prize winner wins Canon Photo Marathon Asia Championship 2018 which has an all-expense paid tour to Japan whereas runner-up will be awarded prizes like the EOS 6D Mark II and the EOS 80D.

Are improving smartphone cameras acting as a catalyst to boost Canon’s imaging business or is it going the other way round?

There is no denying that smartphones are making an impact. They are actually educating consumers with an entry-level camera which interests them to gain photography knowledge. Later customers feel the need for better and that is when they switch to a DSLR.

Point and Shoot camera business have definitely gone down and that’s okay with us. As long as people are clicking pictures it’s good because there will be business eventually. High-end PowerShot units, like the G7 X Mark II though still has a market as a secondary camera for enthusiasts. Hence, segmentation within our product lineup is done accordingly.

4K recording is still missing on DSLRs even on high-end cameras like 6D Mark II. What’s the reason behind it and can we expect an affordable 4K recording camera anytime soon?

It all depends on technological trends. Right now 4K is merely a buzzword which probably just acts as a highlight on listing product features. We understand that this will change and our Research & Development team in Tokyo keeps working on it. Once we have a direction towards it, we will definitely let you know.

How are the Mirrorless cameras being placed in Canon’s product portfolio?

We have observed that demand for mirrorless cameras is not much in India. People here are yet to explore the pros and cons of a mirrorless camera. As a result, we are focusing more on DSLRs for our upcoming promotions.

How is canon promoting photography culture in India apart from Photo marathon?

Canon has been organizing workshops all year round in different parts of India. Celebrating Canon’s 20th year anniversary in India, we kick-started Canon roadshow in March 2017 which is conceptualized to showcase and educate consumers about the comprehensive range of Canon products, across Indian cities. The users can get a first-hand experience of the newly launched product and give us feedback on the same.

Women workshops have been organized in the country encouraging women to learn photography. There have been new genres derived and promoted like the maternity workshops where those who are interested can get the knowledge to capture the best moments of this period.

Apart from this Canon has been investing in different marketing strategies including travel photography and influencer photography through which our products can get more exposure.
The company also focuses and invests into various photography workshops for professionals under a unique Canon property called EOS Nation. Canon has Authorized Photography Training Centers where the users can explore their EOS’s capabilities and learn the basics to begin with.

In future, all these efforts shall have more visibility for our users which will hopefully encourage participation and help us build a stronger community.

That’s it. Thank you for your time!