That product is ExpressDigital Darkroom, which allows photographers to capture, manage, enhance, proof, sell, and print with one software package. “It’s a seamless workflow that helps photographers stay organized and make more money,” says Orser. “For instance, many photographers like making advanced custom edits in Adobe Photoshop, so we have a Retouch button that will open Photoshop, let the photographers do their magic, then bring the picture back into Darkroom.”
A couple of features of Darkroom that help ExpressDigital stand out: an album-making template builder (“once all the pages are created, you simply print on location or send the album art instantly to your lab”) and a green-screen feature. “Not only does our software instantly import backgrounds into green-screen photos, but we have several specialized drop-out tools that adjust the hue range, hue fuzziness, edge smoothing, and more,” says Orser.
ExpressDigital also has created lab software called Labtricity, which is connected through a network with all photographers running Darkroom. “Darkroom photographers can automatically send their prints and packages electronically to Labtricity-enabled labs,” says Orser. Photographers also have the option of printing onsite or taking their work to another lab.
In addition to Darkroom and Labtricity, the company boasts a division called ExpressDigital Enrichment, which focuses on customer support and training, including a comprehensive customer support program called the “Anytime Support Plan.”
onthly training classes, wine-and-cheese parties in the training cities (to introduce customers to PhotoReflect.com, the company’s online storefront), and a summer training/marketing tour are additional ExpressDigital services.
Each Labtricity lab has its own location and disaster plan. ExpressDigital itself has two offices, so operations can shift to just one of the offices in case of a crisis.
An increase in online ordering has characterized the past year at Full Color, Dallas, TX. To meet the needs of its clients, the company has introduced several innovative solutions for pro photographers.
“We continue to support film photography, and we introduced Film2Digital, a solution designed to allow film photographers to take advantage of our ordering solutions and digital products,” says Amanda Fuller, marketing director. “Film2Digital, as well as eProofs, ImageNet, SportsNet, and EventLink are Full Color’s exclusive services, designed to provide our customers with quick, easy-to-use order solutions with a broad range of services.”
Full Color also supports solutions such as LabPrints and ImageQuix, which give photographers different options for handling workflow before they send orders into the lab.
“While we’re not the only labs that support these programs, Full Color works to provide high-quality service, such as fast turn-around and tight color management control, so photographers know they can depend on us.”
The lab works to maintain relationships with its customers to help them remain competitive, whether guiding their transition into digital technology, working with them to create new products and services, or developing strategies to help expand their businesses. “Composite” printing, for example, has become quite popular, according to Fuller, whether the customer designs the templates or uses the company’s predesigned layouts. “In most cases, we’re able to individually color-correct each image in a template, resulting in higher-quality prints,” she says.
Over the past two years, production time has been reduced, and most orders now ship within one to two days of receipt—many ship on the same day. And protection is paramount at Full Color: “We consider backup extremely important and have plans in place, including off-site backup of data, to ensure minimum disruption in the event of a catastrophe,” says Fuller.
Magazine proofing and digital album prints were the most popular products for LustreColor, Canton, MA, in 2005. “The continued rapid conversion to digital by photographers has made these two services extremely popular,” explains vice president of sales and marketing Ken Wilson. “Our online services were also enhanced with auto ordering, PayPal credit card verification, and a drop-shipping option to help photographers streamline the fulfillment of their online print orders.”
Designing and binding albums online also got easier over the past year for photographers and brides, thanks to the addition of two more album styles to www.CapriDesignAndBind.com. “The addition of Capri Album’s Mosaic (slip-in) and Mounted Reversible-style albums to the original Modern Image Book (digital) album online gives photographers the ability to design, print, and bind any style album that Capri offers,” says Wilson.