Custom printing for other photographers
I have a couple of friends who are pro wedding photographers. One friend in particular has been very dissatisfied with the digital output of his film work. He's tried every lab out there with with no luck. In his defense, he is trying to establish a look that sets him apart from the rest. I printed a couple of his negatives in the darkroom shot on 6X7, straight with little manipulation on grade 2 Emaks, and he was ecstatic with the results. So now I'm thinking of the possibilities of custom printing for him and other photographers in the area who shoot film but don't have access to a darkroom. Any feedback from other folks who have done this or are still doing this would be great. I need to know how to price prints, market, or have my head examined, so any help would be appreciated. All this would be in black and white with some toning if wanted. Thanks
Not many people want their weddings shot in B&W, so that limits you unless you also print colour.
There is a niche market for B&W weddings but it'll always be small, the reality is that you can custom print as a sideline for extra income but unless well established in a major city you'd never make a living from it.
That's talking from experience, I used to shoot occasional B&W weddings and at one point at we did all the B&W printing for a commercial lab, they specialised in processing for wedding/portrait photographers and amateurs & even early 80's there was little demand for B&W. My suggestion is get two or 3 regular clients the income will fund your own photography without taking up too much of your time. Then see what happens. I had some regular clients and I did all their B&W printing for about 30 years.
Go for it! I print for a couple of photogs here that don't have darkrooms, and don't shoot enough B&W to warrant putting one in. It makes for some extra film money for me, and keeps them happy. I don't do color any more, though I have been contemplating returning to it lately. I could possibly soup their E-6, thats easy to knock out, but I'm hesitant to take on color printing.
i think you should do it as well, don't expect to make buckets of coin from it ...
but have fun
look at pro - labs near you to figure your pricing ..
good luck !
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Go for it. As stated it won't be high volume so a nice easy pace would be great.
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My first job was printing for a wedding photographer in Hamilton, after my apprenticeship this was the advice he gave me.
Find 10 photographers and print for them , set good rates , and be realistic about learning what each persons taste (you need to be a bit of a chamilion).
Specialize in silver , forget inkjet as anyone with 10 dollars is a master printer these days , setting up shop.
You should work on a day rate that satisfies you lifestyle and financial commitments. (do not include materials in your day rate)
Lets say you can make 6 good 16x20 a day , then your day rate should be somewhere around $600 a day plus materials.
If you are no good , you will find out real quick as your clients will only use you one or two times, If you are too cheap in price then the
cupboards will be bare, If you are consistent, willing to listen, fast and reliable you will be sought out.
Be prepared for success, as you will now be working 7 days a week and people will be knocking on your doors at all times. This could be
a problem in some households.
I see you are from Charlottesville, I'm in the Farmville Area. Richmond Camera will stop processing film this summer. I think Pro Camera sends all their stuff to them, so it might be a great opportunity.
I'd say with all buisness decisions, you need to ensure that you have time to deliver what your promise. As for pricing, I think it depends on the client and their purpose - especially if it's your look that gives them an ace in the hole.
I don't think you're ready for marketing, get a few clients under your belt, see how you like the work and most importantly, make sure it's something you really want to do.
This reminds me of another fella who posted the other day wanting feedback on his Craigslist advertisement for b&w processing. He is offering to develop people's b&w film at very reasonable prices.
I think that we can no longer expect to have analog printing services offered by businesses, especially in smaller cities. An amateur community can fill this niche however, and we can all benefit from it. What's the term... "_____ market"?
Kind of like Etsy or something.
I really like this idea of individuals offering their services. I personally would love to find someone that can do RA-4 for me in their darkroom.
If you are the big tree, we are the small axe
If you look at the adverts in magazines like B&W Photography there's already quite a number of people (not conventional labs) offering B&W & Colour printing services, and that's mirrored across almost all photographic magazines (with reasonable advertising rates) in most countries. Just looking at the addresses etc you know most are run from home.
I have been keeping myself afloat doing custom lab work since 1990 and still have clients I work for out of my basement darkroom. You can make a little money doing high quality printing for a reasonable print price, my fiber prices are 12,16,25 and 50 for 5x through 16x20. However trying to do a complete wedding on 5x RC stock in black and white is very difficult to make worthy money. You have to keep the price down so they can order a whole lot of different negs and then if you process in trays like me and try to make good prints you might be lucky to get through 25 negs a day. A wedding job can turn into 2 weeks full time at less than minimum wage.