Photography News Issue 41

Photography News | Issue 41 | absolutephoto.com

15 Interview

Profile HardyHaase We take a behind the scenes look at Flaghead Photographic, a leading UK distributor of lenses, lighting accessories and useful photo accessories. Meet its boss...

Our readers might not have heard of Flaghead Photographic. Perhaps you could give us a potted history on the company and what inspired you to set it up. A little of your imaging background would be handy too. I started Flaghead Photographic in 2004 after leaving Hasselblad UK Ltd, where I was a director, to start a new working life without corporate stress and pressures. And to be by the seaside…. We moved to Poole to set up a business to import and distribute specialist photographic equipment. I started with products from Quantum,HonlPhoto,ExpoImaging and Custom Brackets and grew the business from there. How is business at the moment? What does a distributor actually do and how do you get products into the shops? Business was very good for us last year and this year has started extremely well. We import and distribute products from the USA, Japan, Sweden, and Germany on an exclusive basis, we represent the manufacturers here in the UK and in Ireland. That means stocking and supplying, marketing, advertising, servicing, and repair, plus liaison between the end-user and retailer and the manufacturer to develop existing and create new products. There seem to be only a few independent specialist photo retailers left in the country. Is this a concern from your perspective? No, not for the specialist products we import and distribute. None of them sell in high volume, nor are they aimed at high street shops and their customers. Our products are looked after by a small group of retailers that serve the high-end pro market and the committed enthusiast. Niche market

There seems to be lots of interest in fast aperture prime lenses with productsnot just fromVoigtländer but also from Sigma, Tamron and Zeiss. Have you any thoughts why so many photographers are buying in such lenses? There are many reasons I guess; in the consumer market the price must be a great factor, there are some very good lenses available at lower prices than the camera manufacturers own. Thenwe see a growing demand for ‘retro’ lenses, which are manual focus and may have a specific ‘bokeh’. They are often made from metal and have a different feel from modern lenses. And finally there is a market for lenses that are made for outstanding quality, almost regardless of price, size and weight. Also growing in demand are lenses which are to be used for still and video capture, they again have specific requirements such as aperture settings that can be used ‘de-clicked’ and with a good long throw for manual focus. From your perspective and in terms of lenses, is 35mm full- frame the dominant format or have CSC and Micro Four Thirds overtaken it? I don’t know specific numbers or market share proportions, but I would guess that full-frame lenses still represents the largest single market segment. MFT, Sony E, Fuji and other mounts must all be growing in importance, that much is clear. I think TetherTools is your most recent brand. Perhaps you could expand a little of what TT offers for today’s image-maker? TetherTools is the only company specializing in this specific type of equipment. They make cables for USB, HDMI and FireWire connections. All cables are heavy- duty, with thick individual strands, high-quality mouldings, radio interference shielded and have gold plated contacts for best possible connectivity. These are the only cables made for the imaging industry to transmit high-res files at great speed. The most popular cables are sold in orange and they have become the industry standard. TT also developed the JerkStopper, a small, inexpensive and insignificant looking accessory that protects the camera socket from damage. And then there are a wide range of accessories that make tethered photography easier, from tables to support your laptop to tablet and phone holders to power-boosting extension cables.

products can be found quite easily online these days, thanks to Google and the like. Can readers buy products direct from your website? If not, what do you suggest they do if they are interested in buying? We do not sell direct from our website, but customers will find a list of retailers (shops and online) that stock our products. How do you select which brands to distribute? Or do they select you? And what was the first brand you took on? I always keep an eye open for products, newor not yet represented in the UK that would fit in with existing product lines and our way of distribution. Sometimes products get recommended by other importers around the world who are running a similar business to mine and know me. Sometimes manufacturers approach us when they think that we are a good match for them. International exhibitions like Photokina always produce opportunities. I always recommend products I come across to importers in other countries. The first product I took onwas Quantum Instruments from the USA. Have you any plans to add more brands to your range any time soon? Or is it a period of consolidation? I am not desperately searching for new lines, but if something comes along that is special and fits into the portfolio, then I would go for it. It would have to be of high quality and fulfill a genuine need and purpose. You have a great range of imaging products, from long established names like Voigtlander and Quantum to TetherTools and Triggersmart. What are the growth areas for you? TetherTools is growing and will continue to do so, tethered photography is a fast growing market and TetherTools is the only company specializing in this specific type of equipment. Voigtländer sales are growing because they make lenses for Leica M-mount, MFT and Sony E mount and demand is growing. Generally the market for third party lenses is more buoyant than ever before and M-mount lenses can be used with adaptors on a wide variety of cameras. We are also seeing growth in the accessory products we sell, such as Custom Brackets, Walkstool and Honl Photo.

Since December 2016 TetherTools is also offering a wireless tethering option, the CaseAir wireless transmitter. This unit allows images to be transferred via the CaseAir’s own Wi-Fi signal, in JPEG and Raw files. This unit also allows remote control of your camera and its most important features. Lighting – flash and continuous – has seen major innovations over the past few years. Is this reflected in the range as well as the popularity of products offered by Flaghead? We don’t have a studio flash system in our program but our continuous light range from Hedler has been a great success in recent years driven byHMI andrecentlyLEDlight units. The Hedler Profilux LED 1000 at below £1000 is pretty special. Video is a major growth area generally and more and more cameras offer 4K. Is this an opportunity for you too? Our market traditionally has been in stills photography, but of course we have experienced a convergence of stills and video in the last few years, which has meant that we do supply products such as Hedler and Voigtländer into this market. But none the less, I don’t expect us to move into that market in a big way. With the details of Brexit still to be decided, in your opinion what impact will our exit from the EU have on your business? We already have had to deal with the impact of Brexit! Almost all of our products are imported and paid for in foreign currency, which has meant a steep increase in the cost of products as the GBP weakened in May-June last year. We had to pass some of that increase on by August 2016. We will have to cope as best as we can for the moment and wait to see what new trade deals will bring for us importers. We are facing a few years of uncertainty that we have no great influence over and need to concentrate on areas that we can influence, such as marketing, service and quality of product. Is The Photography Show at the NEC the next opportunity for readers to see your company’s products? Do you know what you will be demonstrating? We are exhibiting at The Photography Show, stand F62, and will concentrate on products such as TetherTools, Voigtländer and TriggerSmart.

Biography

Years in the photo industry? 48 years (started in 1969 in Germany and in 1975 in the UK) Current location? Poole, Dorset Last picture taken? Grandchildren at Christmas When youwere younger, what did youwant to bewhen you

grewup? A cowboy Dogs or cats? Neither Toast or cereal? Porridge Email or phone call? Phone call or Skype

We are facing a few years of uncertainty that we have no great influence over

Below The Voigtländer Micro Four Thirds range of lenses.

flaghead.co.uk

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