It has been confirmed that Photokina, the world’s oldest photography held in Cologne, is suspended until further notice. “Unfortunately, at present the framework conditions in the industry do not provide a viable basis for the leading international trade fair for photography, video and imaging,” according to Gerald Böse, President and Chief Executive Officer of Koelnmesse, where the event is held. “This hard cut after a 70-year shared history was very difficult for us. The trend in this industry, with which we have always had a close and trusting partnership, is very painful for us to witness. But we are facing the situation with a clear, honest decision against continuing this event, a decision to which, unfortunately, we have no alternative.”

Photokina has been a key event in the photographic industry globally since 1950, and has seen legions of exhibitors, visitors and press pass through its doors over the last 70 years. It has been affected by falling sales in the camera market, which has buffeted by the unstoppable rise of smartphones, economic pressures and trade disputes, and to cap it all, a global pandemic – trying to arrange a ‘touch and try’ camera event with Covid-19 still ravaging Europe is just not practical.

Picture credit: Koelnmesse

“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,'” added Oliver Frese, Chief Operating Officer of Koelnmesse. “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.”

Still, the news will come as a big shock to many in the industry. “I have been attending Photokina since the 1990s and this is sad news,” said AP editor, Nigel Atherton. “As well as the event itself, the after-hours networking in the various bars and restaurants of Cologne will be sorely missed by many colleagues.”