Magazine Article


Jim's Photo Lab Changes with the Times

The studio uses a Canon 10D digital camera, allowing customers to view virtual proofs immediately after the session. Prints are output on one of the Noritsu labs. So in a crunch, a customer can walk in for a portrait session and walk out with framed prints in hand, all in less than an hour.

The portrait studio brings in new customers, so Schwarzbach views the time a portrait customer is in the store as prime time for explaining all the other services Jim's Photo Lab offers. "We tell the families about digital photofinishing, and tell the business customers about other services we offer that might be useful to them," he says.

What might those services be? In the back of the store, employee Gabe DeLaCruz sits between an Epson 1640 scanner and a large-format inkjet printer, digitally compositing images for a local jeweler. They'll be output on the large-format inkjet for store displays. A local car dealer comes to Jim's Photo lab to produce large-format canvas prints for his showroom. "Occasionally, we'll get some really big jobs through here that cover multiple payrolls for us," Schwarzbach says.

For Keystone Heritage Park, a wetlands preserve in El Paso, Schwarzbach took wildlife photos taken at the park by one of his favorite customers and composited them with a textured background and graphics to produce limited-edition posters, which were printed on the Noritsu DLS lab. He's donating some prints to the park to start, but is also getting an order for 1,000 prints at $3 each. The park sells them as a fund-raiser. The park is also planning to decorate its gift shop with larger posters of the images.

Schwarzbach has his eye on local realtors next. Another independent photo retailer that he knows in Texas has built a nice business producing real estate flyers on a digital minilab, and he figures he can do the same for the El Paso market.

A lot has changed for Jim's Photo Lab over the years, and the store continues to evolve. But some things won't change. "We've always offered the best in photofinishing. That's true and it always will be," Schwarzbach says.

Imager Snapshot

Jim's Photo Lab Type of lab: In the process of going from totally consumer to a large commercial base with the consumer business on top of that. Customer base: Above-average income families, professionals, advanced amateurs and people who care about their photographs. First got into digital and what equipment purchased: March 2000 and the purchased Noritsu QSS-2711DLS (it was the 21st install in the US). Equipment List: Jim and Gretchen Schwarzbach own and operate Jim's Photo Lab in El Paso, Texas.
  • Digital Minilab: Noritsu QSS-2711DLS
  • Kiosk: Kodak Picture Preview Station running Preview & Select software
  • Wide-Format Printer: Epson 9500
  • Online Photofinishing Service: OPP from IPInet
  • POS Computer System: PowerLab by Unique Business Systems
  • Packaging Products You Use: Have written their own print packages in Photoshop software and are also switching to Express Digital.