The lab also boasts a complete mounting department, which can mount on a variety of substrates.
“This service has added business, since it affords ‘one-stop shopping,’” explains Lieberman. “We also installed mural-sized giclee printers for fine-art archival prints.” Insurance and the backup of digital files ensure Ken Lieberman Laboratories’ asset integrity.
Ken Wilson, owner of LustreColor (Canton, MA), is stunned by professional photographers’ interest in press-printed (non-silver-halide-based) products this year. “Photographers are clearly hungry for creative new products to offer their clients and help differentiate themselves from their competitors,” he says.
To support this trend, LustreColor added a full line of new press-printed products in 2006. “Press-printed fine-art cards and proof books have become overnight sensations,” says Wilson. “We offer two different layout styles printed on glossy stock with an available customizable cover jacket. In 2007, we plan to add paperback companion albums, posters, marketing postcards, and several additional products that will assist the sales, marketing, and profits of our customers.”
An additional trend LustreColor has noticed with its wedding photographer clientele is their need to find a more efficient and less expensive way to deliver wedding proofs. “To help, we ran digital workflow seminars and added new proof-ordering options on our e-commerce website for photographers,” says Wilson. LustreColor is fully covered with business-interruption insurance in the event a natural or manmade catastrophe hits the operation.
“Because the files we print are sent to us by FTP, there is little or no need to have an off-site backup of image files,” says Wilson. “Critical production data is stored off-site. We do offer an image archive service to our customers, so in the event of a catastrophic event occurring to our customers, they can be secure in knowing that their event files are backed up here.”
Midwest Color Lab (Redford, MI) witnessed an increase in digital composites and digitally enhanced images in 2006. “It wasn’t enough to just print 4x5s, 5x7s, or 8x10s,” says general manager Patricio Hinojosa. “Pro photographers have to offer interesting and unique digitally created images to stand out for the general public within the ever-increasing digital camera craze. Most people think the mystique of photography is gone. With a digital camera they can create, correct, and redo anything. They print what they want, when they want it.”
The lab has multiple backup systems in place to keep files safe. “We also use an off-site Internet backup facility through our ISP,” adds Hinojosa. Miller’s Professional Imaging (Pittsburg, KS, and Columbia, MO) added its first four-color press (a Kodak NexPress system) in June.
“We are offering hard- and soft-cover books, greeting cards, and a myriad of other print products,” says president Todd Coleman. “This allows our customers to expand their offerings and their sales with existing customers. “Mpix, our online prosumer division, is enjoying tremendous growth in its third full year of operation.”
Too much backup is never enough for this lab. “Miller’s has built-in operational redundancy when you consider that we have two production facilities separated by 225 miles,” says Coleman. “All of our digital storage systems are redundant, as well. With that said, we do not archive our customers’ images after printing for most products we offer. So while a disaster could interrupt daily operations, our customers would not lose storage they are depending on.”
Miller’s does have business-interruption insurance, and could serve its entire customer base from either location for a period of time, should disaster strike the other.
Workflow is the key for Nations Photo Lab (Owings Mills, MD), says president Ryan Millman. “The key to success is workflow and efficiency. The new age of digital photography has brought about a number of changes for the professional photo lab. The latest technologies have allowed Nations Photo Lab to become nationally recognized for both its quality and pricing. To offer photographers some of the lowest price points on Kodak Endura paper, it’s necessary to have our workflow streamlined.”
Photographers who go to Nations can now use ROES (remote order entry system), which allows the photographer to create wedding albums, proof books, and greeting cards, as well as order a host of print sizes and mounting options. Once the order is sent, it is automatically brought into Kodak’s DP2. “DP2 is the backbone of Nations,” adds Millman. All jobs are created and color-managed in DP2, then sent out to one of the 2,000-prints-per-hour Noritsu printers or Durst Lambdas for prints up to 50 inches wide.
“The digital revolution has seen many labs come and go, but those that have embraced the latest technologies to streamline their workflow will keep their customers smiling,” says Millman.