The Retail Photo Business

Discussion in 'Industry News' started by Prof_Pixel, Sep 30, 2012.

  1. Prof_Pixel

    Prof_Pixel Member

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  2. MaximusM3

    MaximusM3 Member

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    Sad..sign of the times and not for the better.
     
  3. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Subscriber

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    I was in my local lab picking up prints this week, and the photo tech lamented the "crappy cell phone pictures" her own daughter sends her. People are being told "good enough" is, well, good enough, and I suppose it is... but for as long as I can, I'll strive to make the best images I can, whether film or digital. And maybe even print a few.
     
  4. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    "Good enough" has been the theme since before my grandparents were born really... Before digital, we had disposable cameras, APS cameras, disc cameras, 110 cameras, cheap 35mm cameras you got free with a magazine subscription, old zone focusing imitations of quality, soviet imitations, brownie cameras, etc... Some of them have charm, but their market segment was "good enough"
     
  5. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Subscriber

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    In some cases, maybe. I think today the quality has vastly improved outside of cell phones (and even some cell phones take decent images). I have never had a bad digital camera. The cell phone of today is the 110 or disc camera of yesteryear with the twist that you know, immediately if you got a shot, no shot, good shot, or crap. As long as you got a non no-shot, it's good enough. With film you could screw up in any number of ways and not even know you screwed up. So back then, if it was important, you hired a pro or made sure you used good gear.
     
  6. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    One local camera shop has stop printing photos.

    Jeff
     
  7. foc

    foc Member

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    There is an interesting article from Photokina
    http://www.showdailys.com/E-publisher/Photokina2012_day2/

    See page 17 regarding film sale tracking volumn and how the 4x6 print market is changing world wide.

    I own a photoshop/minilab in rural Ireland and yes the number of people getting prints from digital cameras and phones has decreased. It came to a stage where I woundered if I could survive in business. I spoke to other lab owners in other parts of the country and they had the same problem. I approached Fuji Ireland and they were of the same opinion. If something wasn't done soon a lot of photo shops would close.

    The solution was an all out effort to make the customer awear of the value of a printed photo. The national advertising and local window display pushed home the idea of " if your pc crashes/ lost memory card/ stolen phoone, you loose all your photo, so print them now"

    And guess what, it worked. Ok it did take time but the scare tactics worked. I now have regular customers coming into the shop and ordering 100, 200, 300 + prints from phones and memory cards. They also buy albums to store the prints.

    And it has a good knock on effect for my film processing. We now get "Oh you still develop film? I have a few at home in the drawer, I must get them developed"

    I even had a few digital customers go back to film because they liked film but thought it was dead.

    I now sell lots of second hand 35mm film cameras and usually to people in their early 20's.

    So what I'm really trying to say is that photo retail can survive but a lot of effort is needed from the retailer. There is a market out there, you just need to find your niche.
     
  8. LarryP

    LarryP Member

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    I live in the charleston Mt. pleasant area and have to say the ritz there absolutely was horrible if you use film. Lack of pretty much everything film related unless you wanted to special order it.Film was restricted to a few rolls of kodak gold and tri x 400 and maybe a roll or 2 0r ilford delta 100 in 35mm forget medium format. I had used the other labs cross town from me some years ago when one of them processed 120 and e6 once a week,but they gotto where nearly every roll would be scratched so I quit them. Sad tosay fora city of this size but if you want it done rightor something a walmart doesn't offer you pretty much have to go mail order or internet or do it yourself.
     
  9. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    :smile::smile::smile:
     
  10. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    I was a manager in photographic retailing for more than twenty years but got out of the business just before digital imaging started and was very lucky to spent the last seven years of my working life before retiring working in the civil service, and glad to be out of retailing.
     
  11. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    I hear there's a pet shop on the Isle of Man that does a good business retailing Manx cats.
     
  12. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    :laugh::laugh: Don't give up you're day job.
     
  13. Henning Serger

    Henning Serger Member

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    Thanks.
    Correlates with the observations here in my town.
    Lot's of local photo shops here had to give up during the period 2000 - 2006. But not only because of the digital flood, but also (probably mainly) because of the very strong competition of the new online distributors.
    For the last years the number of the remaining shops is quite stable. They've found their strategies and niches to survive.
    And one strategy is indeed offering quality prints:
    Talked about that two years ago with the owner of my preferred local shop here. He told me that their in house Fuji Frontier minilab, and offering higher quality prints (with significant better quality than the prints from the mass labs / drug store chains) saved their business.
    The customers appreciate the higher quality and are willing to pay more for it. Both the film and digital photographers.

    And at the Photokina there was quite a few talks about seeing a little trend back to printed images.
    The biggest European photofinisher / mass lab, CEWE Color, has reported slightly increasing numbers of prints (RA-4) in their latest quarterly reports (increasing numbers especially from digital files).

    Best regards,
    Henning
     
  14. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    Good on you for being a good and gutsy small-business man.

    Herein lies the lesson for Kodak. If they hadn't abandoned marketing and advertising of film, they might never have had to go into bankruptcy during their transition to... to... to umm... whatever it is they are trying to become.
     
  15. EdSawyer

    EdSawyer Member

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    No one should mourn the loss of Ritz. In my area, they were dirtbag borderline criminals who had no clue and deserved to go down. Idiotic people working the store, pushing their junk quantanray (sp?) garbage lenses and other overpriced trinkets. At one point they had a good analog-based minilab, but it was overpriced, then they screwed the pooch by replacing it with some craptacular digital-based minilab, and their prints looked like shite. good riddance to those tossers.
     
  16. Dali

    Dali Subscriber

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    Well, using a different wording, I would share the same experience. Last time I went to a Ritz store (2-3 weeks ago), I found the store quiet, very quiet and empty, very empty. I was not aware of their financial situation but it felt like they went down the drain...

    I would not comment on their strategy (it is always easy to comment afterward) but I fully agree with the fact that quality and honest work are the way to keep customers. I remember years ago when I was shooting color negatives for the family, I chose the photo store because of the quality of the prints, not because they were close from home or the cheapest.

    Take care.
     
  17. braxus

    braxus Member

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    I have worked in a photolab for 14 years now and have seen many changes in our business. Its in a retail outlet, so the store helps us stay open. We still develop film (at a high cost) for the customer, but the bulk of the lab business is printing from digital prints. Here in Canada we do a lot of business printing orders compared to the US that does a fraction of our numbers. This has helped us stay open. Where in the USA you may print off low numbers of digital pictures per order, here in Canada we can at times do 10 times that much. We don't do much film at all these days, but still offer developing. We get more business from low end camera sales then photo developing. And we also do photogifts now which add to the sales. I don't know how many more years we have to stay open strictly as we are today, but I'm expecting at some point we'll shutter the Photolab business. And I'll be out looking for a new job. I keep my options open on that, but not planning on leaving just yet- unless a job comes available that I have interest in.

    I shoot both digital and film today. I find film extremely expensive to develop compared to digital, so I use it for mainly important shoots or stuff I want slides or B&W for. I don't shoot C-41 anymore unless its 120 format.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 1, 2012
  18. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    'Smart' consumers rejoice. They don't have to pay for film, film processing, and prints anymore. They've been trained by media to believe this is a good thing. At first glance, it might seem that way - less cost once the initial investment was done to buy the camera. Many probably think they will 'print the good ones later', because they don't have to print them to see them anymore. So they take the inexpensive way out.

    Like the article says, though, the question is whether people will miss having printed pictures or not in 20 years. It may be that the next generation thinks it's really strange to view photographs as printed matter. Time will tell.
     
  19. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Though my business would not fall strictly under Retail, my doors have been open to the public now twenty years. Changes are extreme , more so than when I was cutting my teeth working for photo labs here in Toronto.

    When I first started my first mentor told me to find 20 clients and do the best work you can for them and you will survive.

    So Braxus in British Columbia this 2 cents is for you to consider, when you are unsure where your company is going.

    People always will require someone to take their images to a better level, therefore learn to be the best PS and technical printer able to work in various styles.
    People will always want to hang their images on the wall... So learn how to frame and add that too your list of services.
    People will always want to exhibit their work.. So at the front end of your shop have a gallery where artists can show their stuff.. hopefully printed and framed by you.
    People will always want to bring up their past history, usually when they are hitting their 60's and have a bit of money to spend,, so learn how to scan old images and reproduce them in historic processes.
    People will always want to go to a place where excellent photographers get their work done.. therefore be very decisive who you pick as clients...Yes pick your clients... and only
    pick key clients you like working with and also like their work otherwise you will not enjoy your new seven day a week lifestyle.


    I have surrounded myself with wonderfully talented people who are willing to take the business places I would never be able to go to . With a healthy relationship I can do what I want now that I am coming up to my 60'th birthday. I suspect I will move from Toronto to a smaller community and support my company where I can.

    I am going to keep on working on being the best printer / framer I can be, by constantly taking workshops related to PS and alt printing.
    I am going to reopen my gallery.. The Dylan Ellis Gallery.. and only represent archival printmaker/photographers whose work I respect and a few key clients I have been working on for 20 years.
    The Dylan Ellis Gallery will be only interested in the Art Fairs in the major centers and my openings will be every 6-8 weeks showing the best work I can find out there.
    I am going to exhibit my Wife and my Own work and hope to see some revenue from 20 years of exposing and printing, but there is no garuntee of the publics response to our work.
    I am scanning collections and reproducing them on alternative processes to put in collections and promote my services on the net.
    I will keep on hand picking key clients and hopefully make some right moves.



    ######I don't know how many more years we have to stay open strictly as we are today, but I'm expecting at some point we'll shutter the Photolab business. And I'll be out looking for a new job. I keep my options open on that, but not planning on leaving just yet- unless a job comes available that I have interest in.#####

    So Braxus , 14 years in a photolab is a long time working for others, With equipment so cheap these days, on the used and new market I would say look at yourself and give it a go. I started Silver Shack when I was 40, the ability to work hard each day is my only endearing attribute. Learned that as a high lead logger on Vancouver Island.


    Remember people will require photo services, but in the end it always boils down to a nice print, framed to the clients specs , hanging on a wall... Pretty simple if you think about it.
     
  20. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    I worked for a group of ten retail photographic stores who managed to go bankrupt just before the advent of digital photography, mainly due to the idiocy and profligacy of the board of directors, not to mention the illegal practices that they indulged in that some of them were subsequently jailed for, which put over a hundred of their staff out of work.
     
  21. wblynch

    wblynch Member

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    I had to laugh when I watched the new US TV show, Revolution.

    The concept is that the electricity went out world-wide and no technology works anymore, not even gas-fired cars.

    BUT... the funny part was when a woman was asked, "Why do you carry that old iPhone with you?"

    She answered, "The only pictures in the world of my kids exist somewhere inside this phone and if the power ever comes back on I will be able to see them again. I can barely even remember what they look like".

    (quotes paraphrased from memory)