A decline in employment is expected for photographic process workers and processing machine operators through the year 2014. Some openings will still result from replacement needs, which are higher for machine operators than for photographic process workers.
In recent years, digital cameras, which use electronic memory rather than film to record images, have become standard among professional photographers and are gaining in popularity among amateur photographers as the cost of these cameras continues to fall. This will reduce the demand for traditional photographic processing machine operators. However, while many digital camera owners will choose to print their own pictures with their own equipment, a growing number of casual
photographers are choosing not to acquire the needed equipment and skills to print the photos themselves. For them, self-service machines will be able to meet some of the demand, but there will still be some demand for professionals to print digital photos, as well as to develop and print photos from those who continue to use film cameras.
Digital photography also will reduce demand for photographic process workers. Using digital cameras and technology, consumers who have a personal computer and the proper software will be able to download and view pictures on their computer, as well as manipulate, correct, and retouch their own photographs. No matter what improvements occur in camera technology, though, some photographic processing tasks will still require skillful manual treatment. Moreover, not all consumers will want to invest in the software. Job opportunities will be best for individuals with experience using computers and digital technology.