CPQ Professional Imaging
According to Paul Kimball, vice president of CPQ Professional Imaging, of Cleveland, Tennessee: "It's all about getting orders shipped in a timely manner and meeting the customers' expectations. With digital printing increasing as a percent of total output, labs face constant pressure to add equipment to meet those demands. The opportunities created by this technology can be taken advantage of if we look past the current costs to near-term gains in efficiency.
"Like many labs, CPQ offers multiple solutions that enable the photographer to send orders that basically populate themselves into the workflow. This allows same-day shipping on many products that only a year ago would have taken two to three days. We've also done more automation with internal order tracking, invoicing, and shipping, so information can be quickly generated on demand, and uploaded real time to our website, giving the customer 24/7 access to order and account information.
"Overall, automation has given us the biggest efficiency gains
and resulting labor reductions in Order Entry, Shipping/Invoicing,
and Customer Service and Support. On the production side alone,
we've reduced our labor dependence by 23.9 percent while revenues
have held steady. Nonetheless, you are always going to have a huge
need for the right people in those critical production areas where
automation will never be a substitute for good color skills and the
ability to think critically."
Bill Johnson, president of Robin Imaging of Cincinnati, Ohio, reports: "As traditional photographic prints become more of a commodity, we're focusing our efforts on the art side of the business. A lot of our work now involves printing on alternative media, such as watercolor paper or canvas. Digital printing involves a lot more than just buying an inkjet printer and plugging it in. To get the best results, you have to marry the artistic and the technical.
"Our lab has worked with artists and photographers for over 30 years so we know how to get the optimum results from each material."
Professional Digital Imaging Lab
Jay Perskie, owner of Professional digital Imaging Lab, Baltimore, Maryland, reports: "As the digital workflow has evolved, we've seen that many studios are uncomfortable doing their own designs. They rather shoot and sell than assemble or design albums. To accommodate these clients, our lab has developed Turnkey Album Packages. Working from a client's digital files or negatives, we design, print, and mount up to 72 images on 24 10x10 pages in a Glove Leather Library Book, or a 10x15 Glove Leather Coffee Table Book. In five weeks, clients receive their albums. Or, if they prefer to provide their own albums, we'll just design the pages, in the size they select, and deliver them in two weeks."
Jason Kiefer, co-founder and CEO of Pictage, in Torrance, California, tells SP&D: "Back in 2000, I discovered the power of technology through a very personal experience: my wedding. Like so many newlyweds at the time, my wife and I were searching for an easy way to share our wedding pictures with friends and family, who live all over the world. Seeing this as a great opportunity, we created our own online solution, which we named Pictage.
"Today, after showcasing millions of pictures from over 35,000 weddings, Pictage has become a leading online lab and e-commerce service provider, with thousands of professional film and digital photographer partners nationwide. They respond to Pictage because it simplifies their workflow by eliminating time-consuming lab processes, fulfilling online customer orders, and providing them with marketing tools to expand their businesses.
"Long term, our goal is to connect photographers with more clients. Part of that aim is being fulfilled through our new partnership with WeddingChannel.com, which introduces our clients to millions of new brides each year. This is an exciting time for the company, as we work with photographers to enhance the standard of the wedding photography industry."
Fine Print Imaging
Kathy Bauer, marketing director of Fine Print Imaging, in Fort Collins, Colorado, reports: "Our core profit center remains in the photographic printing department. Whether printing from negatives in our darkrooms or using the Chromira for digital photographic printing, photographic output on Fuji Crystal Archive paper remains important to our customers.
"Digital technologies and inkjet printing have dramatically enhanced Fine Print's growth. The ability to print giclées on archival canvas and watercolor papers gives creative individuals new avenues for quality, limited-edition reproductions with a 'print-on-demand' structure after the initial image capture and proofing.
"Technological advances in digital equipment have caused us to retool our lab in the past year. Our Chromira printer was the first nationwide to upgrade to the 5X, improving speed and workflow significantly. Our art-copy system was upgraded with a Better Light digital back, new lights, and computer replacing our 4x5 film capture. The Iris giclée printer was replaced with an Epson Stylus Pro 9600, dedicated to archival watercolor paper, and a Roland Hi-Fi Jet for printing on canvas.
"Internally, digital education has become increasingly
important. Our digital technicians lead weekly staff training
sessions for our customer service advisors because customers new to
digital have many questions, as do those who are more digital
savvy. We've developed handouts and tip sheets to coach clients
through our processes. While many are capable of creating their own
files, more would rather be painting or shooting, being creative,
rather than being chained to a computer. Either way, our front-line
advisors must be able to converse at all levels."
Pounds Photographic Labs, Inc.
Scott Johnson, president of Pounds Photographic Labs, Inc., with labs in Austin, Dallas, and Houston, Texas, tells us: "When Pounds Photographic Labs first opened its doors 28 years ago, digital photography was little more than a faint glimmer on the technological horizon. Today, the digital format is an integral part of the business for a growing number of photographers. At Pounds, we pride ourselves on meshing the craft and tradition of conventional film photography with the technical know-how and support that digital photography demands.