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August 09, 2017 10:00 PM

Photography Of The Future

When was the last time you developed film or used something other than your cellphone to take a picture?

The photography world has changed a lot over the past decade, and social media seems to be crafting it even more.

The uncomfortable is Cham Phan's comfort zone.

"Sometimes you have to do uncomfortable things to make really good art," Phan said.
The photographer does what it takes to get the best snapshot.

"Your visual identity is very important, especially online when people are thumbing through as quickly as they can," Phan said.

Phan takes pictures for businesses to use on social media. He's worked for everything from ethanol businesses to fashion companies, even though he never went to school for photography.

"I started with film in high school. I just loved the process. It's a physical process. You're making something," Phan said.

After getting a college degree in global studies and a lot of practice, Phan decided to capture his hobby with a business. He started champhan.com in 2013. Most of his work is for companies' social media pages. After all, every day around 350 million photos are shared on Facebook, 55 million on Instagram and 450 million on Snapchat.

"Everything I do is related to social media these days. Everyone is a brand, whether they want to be or not," Phan said.

The social media and digital age is also causing long-time photography businesses to make changes.
"When I started, we were still souping film in the basement," Harold's Photo Experts Owner Bob Hanson said.

Bob Hanson owns Harold's Photo Experts. His grandpa started the Sioux Falls business in 1910 as a portrait photographer.

"At that time families didn't really have cameras. If you wanted a picture, you would go to a studio," Hanson said.

That was just a snapshot in time. Since then, photos have transitioned to color, one hour labs and mini labs.

"Then the digital revolution came along and completely changed it all again," Hanson said.

Because of the digital revolution, Harold's is putting more of its focus on its website.

"We're now doing half of our volume through the Internet," Hanson said.

That change means Harold's doesn't have as many customers coming through the front doors. At one point Harold's had eight locations in Sioux Falls. Now it's down to one. It's also cut some positions through attrition. However, Hanson is still optimistic.

"Because as a society, we're taking more images than we ever have," Hanson said.
Harold's is also focusing more on unique products. For example, you can get pictures printed on almost anything, from coasters to wine bottles.

"T-shirts, rubber, anything you can think of," Hanson said.

Hanson believes in the business so much that he's ready to pass it on to his three children. His daughter Emily is the director of operations.

"I see a bright future. It's an exciting business to be in. Facebook, Instagram, etc. are all very photo oriented," Emily Erfman said.

A photo-oriented world that is capturing new types of businesses.

"You never know what memories you'll capture and what it will mean to people down the road," Phan said.

While many of us don't use film anymore, Hanson says it isn't dead yet.

In fact, he's processing more film this year than last year.

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