COVID-19 affected us all with the speed of a camera’s shutter, snap! and the world changed. It has been an extraordinarily historic moment and a challenging time where the world’s knowledge, experience, innovation and foresight were all tested to the limit. For companies, in the midst of the crisis, consumer health was also a key concern, and while maintaining services they had to observe safety best practices for the greater good.

Initially digitally broadcast entertainment experienced an unprecedented upswing, first through increased access to existing material, and then as creatives got more innovative, new types of entertainment gained popularity. Urban music artists from RnB to Hip-hop, Gospel and Dancehall all got on to Versus sessions via Instagram livestream and entertained millions. These interactions ended up reviving digital music sales for artists. Meetings for work continued as video platforms facilitated face- to- face interactions on Zoom and Teams, facilitating continued team collaboration for home bound colleagues. Conferences and expos soon followed suite where the entire engagement could be carried out over Hop-in or Got to Meeting platforms. You will notice a golden thread, in that all these widespread forms of communicating, working and relaxing are all visual.

Another interesting nuance to this thread was the increase of video content on existing and new social media apps, allowing more people to share their stories from their point of view. Content related to featuring useful tips for entertaining and educating children at home while schools were shut, to sharing home improvement tips, fashion, cooking and also reporting on current affairs as citizen journalists. Human beings are visual creatures where the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than the text, while 90% of all information transmitted to the brain is visual. The new normal simply fit our biological make up.

People now had little choice but to interact with the world via screens, which was a perfect moment to help people learn new skills which may be useful for what looked to be an uncertain future. Canon turned to its vast network of technicians, influencers and brand ambassadors to create free educational content, focused on improved use of cameras and lenses. The initiative was aimed at supporting people staying safe at home to understand their tools and trade, to become better story tellers as they fulfilled their desire to share their creations with the world.

What the imaging industry witnessed in real time, was the rapid change of how consumers were using their photography and video equipment taking it to new and exciting directions. Keeping up with the changing dynamics while fulfilling practical concerns, such as supporting consumers with continued access to equipment. Canon took a leaf from food delivery companies and kicked off a new service for a new reality, where goods went to the customer direct from the retailer rather than through a third party. Very little was going to stop people documenting the evolving situation, and Canon was intent on supporting them every step of the way.

These were just some of the factors that the imaging industry had to consider, along with realigning, almost on a weekly basis at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, in order to stay open for business. One key element for many companies that stayed ahead, was the fact that they embraced digitalisation earlier rather than later. Going digital helped companies adapt to the situation better and quicker, as well as to stay in close touch with its customers. Building on an earlier decision to equip all Canon cameras with Wi-Fi connectivity, it made it even simpler for users to share or store their images and videos digitally.

Taking internet connectivity a step further, Canon has created a community platform called Canon Connected to allow like-minded enthusiasts to pool their creative content and manage it more effectively from a space dedicated to their art. The saying that luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity is apt for what was soon achieved. A rich catalogue of educational content was developed quickly from the experience of maintaining the Canon Academy annually. The dynamic programme focused on training youth, amateurs, and professionals alike to evolve into better photographers, cinematographers, print technicians and even designers amongst many other imaging-based trades. That knowledge was turned into a digital archive of multilingual training videos for empowering photographers and videographers across Africa. Canon Connected allowed a network of imaging experts, ambassadors, photographers, filmmakers and other creative personalities, to develop tutorials and share stories for our entire Community.

Amine Djouahra, Sales and Marketing Director, Canon Central and North Africa