With the digital evolution
in full swing we thought we'd take this opportunity to discuss
some of the new business opportunities offered by digital labs and service
bureaus. Note that most commercial or pro labs these days offer a host
of digital services. Recent feedback to our editor indicates that many
lab managers say that the greatest challenge they face is getting their
photographers to understand just what could be done with digital. This
column will explore some of the information on what can be done including
the usual scanning, printing, retouching, manipulation, and output as
additional "products" for the photographer's clients.
· How will swapping of media and formats add to your sales? One
type of media delivered can be interchanged with just about any other
type of media, such as film to scan to CD, digital image to slide or
all to print in black and white or color.
· Have you explored unique display print possibilities or multimedia
CD authoring for client's events?
· Do you have a lab working with you as a team to sell larger
jobs such as corporate fine art prints or museum sales?
Digital is not always the best solution for a photo shoot but with more
information, photographers can help their clients make better choices.
There is also a "project chain of command" in our business
where you need to find your place. As we are still growing in this area
of our industry, we don't have all the answers; maybe we can get
you to ask more questions.
We talked with some industry people about their advice and thoughts
on the pros and cons and business opportunities of digital. Our aim
was to discover what would help photographers better use their labs
and service bureaus to add more options for services they can sell to
Edward G. Finn, Vice
President, Dodge Color, Inc.
"Our client, the photographer, is the person meeting with the
client and is the one to make suggestions about how a project will take
shape. Certainly a photographer should be aware of the wide range of
digital and conventional methods to produce photography so the client
can best be advised how to accomplish a project. So photographers should
(and most do) stay current with new forms of image capture and output
reaching the market. As soon as we install and test a new device, we
begin marketing it (educating) to the photographers to help them understand
its uses, features, and limitations. But mostly this means an output
device and many times the decision of how the image is to be used is
made before the photographer is brought into the project. So rather
than selecting the product to be made with the image, the photographer
is selecting the camera and lens combination to best fulfill the artistic
vision and the production requirements." (Note: See Resources
at end of article.)
Tommy Morgeson, Operations
Manager, The Color Place
"We provide a range of services which assist along the entire
chain of creating projects using digital technology. Everything is digital
today in the graphics world and we scan every piece of film for photo
printing and graphics. We create, or provide, with creation digital
formats from all sources. I'm not sure clients will ever need
to know if the photographer is using digital today. Unless the client
insists on holding a piece of film in his or her hand, a majority of
the graphics produced today can utilize a digital image. One good example
is consumers buying event photography.
They simply cannot tell the difference between digital and film-based
images in print sizes up to 16x20 (provided the photographer owns the
right camera)." (Note: See Resources at end of article.)
Baldev Duggal, President
& CEO, Duggal Visual Solutions
"Most photographers still don't realize the complete potential
of technology in their work. The first step photographers can take is
to implement good digital asset management software to catalog and archive
all their work as well as send files for printing directly to their
photo lab. The next step is to consider the numerous possibilities of
printing that digital technology offers. With a good drum scan, even
a 35mm slide can be made into a giant wall mural. Direct digital files
can now be printed on materials as varied as silks, canvas, metals,
and even carpets. There is a lot of hesitation in the photography world
about the acceptance of materials other than photographic paper. But
I believe that photographers need to separate themselves from the crowd
and choose materials like silks and metals for presenting images; this
can attract audiences instantly. Photographers should discuss with their
client all possible choices in print materials prior to the shoot. Sometimes
the final print output will determine whether the photographer should
shoot digitally or with film."
(Note: See Resources at end of article.)
Ron Hughes and Robert
Groh, Slide Service International
"It is our experience that most professionals will not print until
needed. There still is an ingrained bias in photography against digital.
Some of the work we've produced has rivaled that of the traditional
print. Print film systems are so ubiquitous that it is so much easier
for the casual photographer to `shoot and drop' than to
shoot digital and deal with the steps involved in digital printing.
When digital systems are developed to provide the same `shoot
and drop' convenience, then digital will be more cost effective."
(Note: See Resources at end of article.)
Cyndy and Harry Geier,
ICON Imaging Studios
"The Art Director, art buyer, and corporate advertising departments
need results from their advertising, but with budget restraints they're
searching for people with positive cutting-edge solutions to production--preferably
ones that generate perfect final pieces. A photographer needs to gently
educate the client toward their digital options, which, considering
the current economic climate, they are more open-minded to than ever.
You're not `telling,' you're helping by offering
yourself and your contacts to be part of their team. The future is about
teamwork. Aligning yourself with an image retouching house accomplishes
many things; it strengthens your services, offers options to clients,
and prepares material better for print, including digital photos that,
originally in RGB color mode, need experts in imaging, pre-press, and
printing to correctly convert your art properly for press. Although
some photographers enjoy their own retouching, preparing an image for
layout and press goes deep and eventually they find it very time consuming
therefore taking them away from what will actually make them money--photography.
A photography digital team is like car racing; a professional driver
doesn't get out of the car to change his own tire. He has surrounded
himself with experts he
trusts to change the tire the very best it can be done, while he goes
on to win the race!"
Dodge Color, Inc.
4827 Rugby Ave.
Bethesda, MD 20814
fax: (301) 656-0435
The Color Place
1330 Conant St.
Dallas, TX 75207
fax: (214) 951-0278
Duggal Visual Solutions
10 West 24th St.
New York, NY 10010
Slide Service International
123 E. Spring St.
Columbus, OH 43215
fax: (614) 461-5979
ICON Imaging Studios
1310 Logan Ave., Ste. #B
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
fax: (714) 662-3888