FOCUS: Direct Digital
9 January 2020
We speak to Direct Digital about their services on offer for professional photographers and image-makers. If you have concerns over Brexit with kit rental and travelling, read on to find out how Direct Digital can provide consistency in the future.
Tell us about Direct Digital
Direct Digital has been around for 26 years, the Company started its early days as Direct Lighting, solely London based, and became Direct Photographic in 2011. Two years ago, we rebranded to Direct Digital. The change of name is looking to the future, although to this day we have many long-standing customers that still refer to us using our old brand names. Direct Digital now has locations in London, Manchester & Paris. We have a team of five in Space Studios in Manchester, a great unit in Space opposite Panavision. The team in Paris has now expanded to a team of 14, all Bi-Lingual staff. Paris is a rapidly growing business and we are reaping the benefits from only supplying lighting equipment, to now diversifying to support the camera element as well. Like any rental house, our biggest challenge is the continued investment required to support camera equipment and accessories, which are very expensive! A considerable investment has already been made and we are continually equipping each team and location with the right cameras and assets moving forward, but it will take some time.
Can you give an overview of what services and opportunities Direct Digital provide for professional photographers and image-makers?
The main objective is to meet the demands of our customers and supply high quality reliable equipment, be it lighting, cameras or accessories. We are seeing more and more demand for moving image equipment, which will drive our investment in 2020. We are fortunate in our London premises in that we have a studio for hire, which can also be used for workshops and training events. We have recently added a test room, which is being fully utilised. We also run the Direct Assist Scheme, with monthly workshops, and are looking to roll these out in Paris and Manchester as and when the facilities allow.
What makes Direct Digital unique compared to other rental companies?
What makes us unique is that we have the support and resources of Panalux and Panavision, be that technical expertise, additional equipment, large trucks or specialised lenses! We are in a good position where we have our sister companies to call upon! We also have the studios, Dukes and Black Island. It is great to be part of such an experienced and supportive team. We can facilitate a customer from end to end, from the location, to camera and lighting equipment, whatever they need.
Having offices in London, Manchester, Paris can you talk about how well placed you are to provide consistency, knowledge and support post Brexit.
Yes, we need to shout louder that we have these other offices, that we are not solely London centric. It is great that some of our larger customers, particularly from the fashion industry, can also use us in Paris for Fashion week for example. Without having to think about transporting any gear or finding an unknown rental company to hire from in Paris. As for Brexit, we have invested in resources and equipment to help grow the business in Paris, enabling the office to be more self-supporting and independent. Similarly, our Paris branch has the support of Panavsion Alga and Panalux if they need it.
Have you any changes planned for the future that might be of interest to our members?
We hope to move in the near future as we have outgrown this facility in Waterloo and railway arches don’t allow for expansion. Our big challenge is to find a new location, still being in Central London (as much as we can) but somewhere that can facilitate growth. It is very exciting planning for growth.
Do you have an insight into where the future of photography is heading?
It is a great industry to be in at the moment, it is so busy! I don’t think any of us supply 100% stills jobs anymore, there is always moving image content on a job and that makes it exciting, we are all learning something new. It’s a regenerated industry, content is now the biggest driver of the market, every brand is producing content in some form or another. So for image-makers it’s great!
Why is it important for Direct Digital to be Affiliated to the AOP?
We have been partners for a long, long time, we like to support not just the AOP but many in the industry, hence we run our Direct Assist Scheme as well. Most companies achieve loyalty and affiliation by being supportive and giving back and that is what we try to do too. We like to support assistants and the AOP, supporting people starting their careers. The AOP is changing, as is the industry changing. It is a critical time and I think it is important that people understand what value and support the AOP can give. We like to support a key partner.