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  1. #1

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    Color Processing for 4x5, 8x10 & 11x14

    I have a Wing-Lynch film processor (E-6, C-41, & B-W) and just aquired the processing tubes for 4x5, 8x10 and 11x14 (I already have the tubes for roll film). Would it be worth my time to offer a mail-order film processing business for LF? I live in Boise, ID and while I can get 4x5 processed locally, anything larger is non-existant. I'm sure a lot of other locales are going the same way.

    I would certainly need enough business to prevent my chemicals from going bad waiting for more work. I could also offer Pyro development.

    Undecided if its worth my effort to persue.
    The soul never thinks without an image.
    - Aristotle

  2. #2
    Mike Wilde's Avatar
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    The risk factor - ponder that

    I hate processing someone else's films. If it is just my film, and something happens, then I only have myself to be annoyed.

    By the way, where did you get the w/l parts? Local or web? I have one and would love to have a few spare parts, but am not in the mood to buy a whole second machine, which is what most of the deals I find have to offer.

  3. #3

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    Ebay.
    The soul never thinks without an image.
    - Aristotle

  4. #4

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    For my stuff I look for someone who is:
    Consistent in their processing
    Cost effective, meaning I am not paying an arm and a leg
    Clean, meaning my negs/transparencies do not come with dust
    Knowledgeable.

    Basically I want to send my stuff to someone and KNOW they won't F--- it up.

    If you can do this go for it.
    Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI

    So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004

  5. #5
    Bobby Ironsights's Avatar
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    Hmmm.

    I'm a little skeptical of, "Ok, so I've got my camera now, and figured out how to put film in, But one thing I can't seem to figure out is where does the money come out?" type posts.

    Now I'm not saying that this is where you are coming from, I want to be clear, but there are some really hard questions to ask yourself before putting out your shingle.

    Have you really got the experience to take money for this service? Don't get me wrong, I'm always rooting for the little guy, but a post I'd like to read would say something like...

    "So, I've been shooting a great deal of large format colour for the past couple years and I find I really enjoy the darkroom part of photography, I just hate how little printing I really get to do, as Idaho doesn't offer me a great variety of Vistas that do justice to LF colour print and trannies.

    Also, I've run a few small businesses/have taken a local community college course in small business, and it seems like something I'd like to try. I know it's alot of hard work running the business, and it usually takes at least a year to start breaking even, and dealing with people can sometimes be a chore.

    But what can I say? I just like darkroom work and I wish I could have a small army of assistants running around shooting my stuff so I could spend time doing what I really like to do, which is being alone, either with a radio in the background, crafting quality images.

    So, do you think there are enough other LF's in my area to support a small lab?
    "

    That's the kind of post I'd like to read from a guy contemplating commercial printing.

    I've switched from a chem major to a business major in Univ. this year and we talk alot about core competencies. A business has to be able to completely master it's core competencies to be able to function. 99% success rate is a complete failure. Do you ever see those sigma/ISO9001 ratings on products/companies? Those companies that attain that standard have kept up an error/failure/faulty product deficiency rate of something like 7 or less errors PER MILLION processes/products.

    I don't want to say that it's not possible for someone without business experience to succeed in business, it's just that those people that have done so, often have a core group of people who know them and hate them because of the start-up failures and mistakes they made in the businesses formative years. In say....carpentry, or housepainting....that a non-issue, the market is big, and the customers don't form a vocal and tight knit group. The LF photography world IS a close and vocal and tight knit group. If you make honest mistakes as a printer it could follow you around for years after you close up shop, and take away from your enjoyment of photography.

    Also, financing is an issue, sometimes business cost more than they make for the first year or two (and by sometimes I mean usually). Trying to recoup investment too fast can result in an entrepreneur pricing themselves out of their target market before they even have a chance to get off the ground. If a person has small children they might not want to risk ANY money on a small business.

    Here's what I'd suggest to a person. Start printing friends work for BELOW COST, so cheap that they don't even care if sometimes you make the occasional mistake. Print other peoples work at a loss for several months, and see how you like it. Be very clear to these people that you are beta testing the business idea, not running a proper business, but secretly try to act like a pro-printing shop, managing accounts, costs, shipping, working to deadlines....etc..etc.. Think of it as paying for a free education.If you don't like it, and you close up shop, you can deduct the losses you took off your taxes. If you do like it, you can roll those losses forward and pay no tax on future business profits until you break even.

    P.S. Learn proper double entry bookeeping. Confusing at first, but essential.

  6. #6
    langedp's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Bobby Ironsights;606507]... 99% success rate is a complete failure. Do you ever see those sigma/ISO9001 ratings on products/companies? Those companies that attain that standard have kept up an error/failure/faulty product deficiency rate of something like 7 or less errors PER MILLION processes/products.

    QUOTE]

    ???What??? I've been in Fortune 100 companies for 30 years. I have an engineering degree and an MBA from a top 5 business school. I'd suggest you study this stuff a bit more. ISO9001 doesn't stipulate anything like the above. You're confusing ISO with 6 sigma. Very few companies produce products with 6 sigma quality levels. The small scale business venture mentioned by the OP doesn't need to pursue ISO accreditation or 6 sigma quality levels. And what's up with the 99% success rate being a complete failure???

  7. #7
    Bobby Ironsights's Avatar
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    Yeah, you're completely right, I'm thinking of six sigma as opposed to the ISO standards. They throw so much stuff at us here It's hard not to mix up my terms and definitions sometimes.

    I'm not sure what you're confused about in regards to my 99% comment, it seems reasonable that if a custom shop were to mangle every 1 out of every hundred negatives they processed, the customer base would be hard to keep, and word would get around pretty quickly in this, the digital age.

    Hey, you went to a "top five" business school back in the day right?

    I'm wondering if they used to have a term called "Fogging" back then?

    They may have called it something else so let me describe it. Fogging is a term they've taught us in business communications. It happens when a receiver , pays very specific attention to the minute details of a senders communication. When they find an exaggeration, or a factual error, grammatical error or error in terms they jump on the sender and proudly point out those small errors in order to either discredit or disregard the message, or as a personal attack on the sender.

    They teach us here at Lakehead U. (not at all an ivy league university), that it's a very negative thing, and a failure on the part of the reciever and a serious barrier to effective communication. I still notice myself doing it sometimes, and try to quell the urge...but nobody's perfect eh? Maybe not even Ivy league graduates and top executives?

    Magic823, it's true that I'm just a student, and I hope I made that clear in my post, but I gave serious thought to the subject you brought up, and took time to write a detailed response, you can take it for what it's worth, and I hope that if you do decide to get into the custom printing business you think it through and enjoy better success than the 80%+ of new businesses that fail.

    One note of peculiar trivia I learned while studying for an exam I had this morning (I'm not sure if it's true or not but it was in my textbook) was that new businesses are being started by women at a 3:1 ratio to men! Weird HUH!

  8. #8
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    I thought about that idea once or twice.
    I bought tons of WL parts and processors. It never panned out. Unless you are far from a Pro lab and have dedicated LF shooters, you probnably wont break even.
    That said, it might just work out. If you can provide a consistent & quality service, you can make a very nice business out of it.
    Btw, I have tons of Wing Lynch parts also. Tanks, tubes, parts galore if anyone wants them.
    -ian mazursky nyc
    www.prepressexpress.com PrePress for photographers.
    www.ianmazursky.com Travel, Landscape, Portraits and my 12x20 diary

  9. #9
    langedp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobby Ironsights View Post
    Hey, you went to a "top five" business school back in the day right?
    Yea, I guess I'm a dinosaur since I received my MBA 6 whole years ago. Here's the issue in my mind. The OP asked a sincere question and you jumped all over him making rash assumptions about his motives and business experience. Then you proceeded to lecture us on all this great business wisdom you've obtained after a couple of classes in school. Your post was very condescending and full of errors. After you get your degree and have actually RUN a business for a number of years, then perhaps you'll be in a position to give others advice in this area. Take a look at your original post again and ask yourself, who was fogging who?

  10. #10
    tim_walls's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by langedp View Post
    Yea, I guess I'm a dinosaur since I received my MBA 6 whole years ago. Here's the issue in my mind. The OP asked a sincere question and you jumped all over him making rash assumptions about his motives and business experience. Then you proceeded to lecture us on all this great business wisdom you've obtained after a couple of classes in school. Your post was very condescending and full of errors. After you get your degree and have actually RUN a business for a number of years, then perhaps you'll be in a position to give others advice in this area. Take a look at your original post again and ask yourself, who was fogging who?
    The thing which they really need to teach at university is that <i>there is no golden bullet.</i> ISO9001/CMM/Six Sigma absolutely have their place. There are also absolutely places - within the same organisation even - where they should be about as welcome as a hole in the head.

    Inappropriate application of dogma is one reason organisations end up stagnating and watching their leaner, more flexible competitors stealing their lunch. Not all businesses are the same and pretending they are is a mistake.
    Another day goes under; a little bourbon will take the strain...



 

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