I’ve been in the photography business for 30 years and can tell you that running a profitable photography studio has always been a balancing act. The busier you are, the more you need to be concerned with the costs of producing prints for your customers.
My studio produces up to 2,500 prints per month, with the number soaring to 8,000 during the holiday season. Based in Torrance, California, we shoot about 100 weddings and 1,500 portraits a year through our Kid’s Club, Baby Panel, and Signature programs. We’ve become one of the busiest portrait studios in Southern California.
Before finding a better way, I did what other portrait studios have done for decades: I used an outside lab to produce the many thousands of prints for customers. The lab was a good business partner, but relying on an outside service, day after day, had its price.
Our studio was too dependent on the lab’s fluctuations in workload, sometimes at the expense of quality and customer service during peak seasons, such as Christmas. We needed to consistently do a great job for our customers. So I began to look for a solution that would give us faster turnaround times, more control over print production, and a greater ROI. With a $100,000 annual lab bill, we had to find a way to reduce costs and increase profitability.
The Epson Gemini K3 Portrait Printing System is a perfect solution for us. Actually, it’s a digital workflow solution for any studio looking for an immediate, simple way to boost productivity, image quality, and profitability. Here’s why. . .
Intuitive Interface, Enhanced Ink Technology
The Gemini K3 system combines Epson’s UltraChrome K3 printing ink and technology with new image management and enhancement. The system includes the Epson Stylus Pro 4800 printer, a photographic server/RIP system, built-in Ethernet connectivity, a touch-panel display and monitor, and a stand for the printer. It also gives you online access to a personal account for job management and for ordering consumables as necessary.
The Epson Gemini K3 system was easy to learn and lets us organize image files so all of our employees—photographers, technicians, and assistants—can quickly select the images they want to print. Once customers decide which images they want, we can crop and retouch the images before creating proofs with the system’s built-in photo enhancement software or Adobe Photoshop.
When clients place their orders, we simply drag-and-drop selected images into built-in or custom-designed photo templates. They can be printed in a variety of sizes on different types of media in a number of custom packages.
Print on Demand
With the Epson Gemini K3 system, we can print 24/7. Last Christmas Eve, we set up the printer to run all night. The next morning, we had a big stack of prints to cut up and package for clients. When we worked with a lab, all files had to be turned in two to three weeks before Christmas.
We are also able to print on demand for customers now. The immediacy really pays off when a client changes his or her mind and wants to see another print in another size or with a slight change. In a few minutes, a new print is ready, and the customer doesn’t have to make another trip to the studio to pick up the new prints.
The Epson Stylus Pro 4800 can do 99 percent of the printing that a typical portrait studio does, producing images up to 17-inches wide on traditional E-surface luster, photographic matte, and fine-art papers, as well as on canvas. If we have to make prints 24- or 44 inches wide, we can add an Epson Stylus Pro 7800 or Stylus Pro 9800 printer, respectively, to the system.
The Epson Gemini K3 Portrait Printing System lets customers feel in control of their prints. And the return is showing up in our bottom line. Before, my cost of sales was running around 35 percent. Now it’s dropped to 12 percent.
That’s a huge chunk of change to save each year.
For more information on the epson gemini k3 system, visit www.epsongemini.com