My New Photo Restoration Business
live in the Finger Lakes Region of NY State, a land of long deep glacial
lakes, vineyard, and waterfalls. Viola is a physician, and I have been
home full time with the boys since '95.
I have a BFA from SUNY Purchase. I want to pursue my Masters in fine art
after my one-year-old gets a little older. After 20 years, I have kicked
the commercial art habit, and I am starting History Builders Photo
Restoration Service. I will have a website, but I want to work locally.
I don‚t like the idea of one of a kind family treasures going through
the mail. For the past year, I have been planning and plotting the start
up. I have a graphics workstation on a G4, and I use Photoshop to do the
My big issue these days is what I am going to offer my future clients as
my printed product. I have been surfing the web, and trying to educate
myself on the issues of print archivability. I have Checked Wilheim
Institute and FLAAR.
Are you doing restoration as a business? Are you on a Mac or a PC? What
about this metamerism issue? From what I see, the Epson 2000 seems to be
unique as a low cost (under $1,000) pigmented ink printer. I think I
just need to go see one of these in action. I am planning to go to a
trade show soon.
As a basic production strategy, I am planning to send jpegs to a photolab in Utah
(Replicolor). From 400 dpi jpegs, I can offer b&w prints on Kodak
Polycontrast or Illford Multigrade. (These are actually really nice
photo papers). I can offer color prints on Fuji Crystal Archival Photo
Paper printed on a Chromira Printer. Fuji uses the exact same name for
the paper used in a photolab setting with a slide or film positive. From
what I am told, the Fuji Crystal Archival Photo Paper used to print the
digital files on the Chromira printer is not as good, and I think Fuji
is trying to pull some wool.
I want one good photo quality printer. Epson 1270/1280, Epson 2000?
My biggest concern is that all of the archivability ratings are based on
such ridiculous standards. I mean, who is going to keep a photo in the
light of a 15 watt bulb at 70º F. What is a 50 year print worth in real
life. Do sentimental picture owners really care? Or do they just want to
know their restored photo is as good as any RC Color print from the
Hi Gerry. I'll let the pros handle the questions. But I want to wish you luck in your endeavor. The name you picked for the business is great !!
Wow - great questions Gerry! I wish I had some answers, but I'm grappling with the same questions right now. (So, I'm very anxious to see the answers you get.)
One thing that I've found (at least for myself) is that I've been sending my digital files to an online photo printer - and I'd say that 90% of them come back looking like they did on my monitor. However, I've discovered that there are some things (usually flaws) that show up in the print that I didn't see in the photo when I viewed it on the monitor. Perhaps it's just a matter of training my eye, but the printer I have now as GOT to go! (I've got some strange banding of tints going on.)
The problem with finding a flaw AFTER I get the printed photo back is that I (and my client) have already waited 5-7 days, so if I need to redo anything, I have to delay even longer. That lag time is driving me crazy - which is why I'm looking at a decent printer. But, I'm concerened that my clients won't be happy with the archival quality of the 1280 on glossy paper. That's not a problem for older black and white photos which I think look better on matte paper anyway, but so far about half of my work has been glossy photos that are about 30 years old - so I want to recreated the look of the glossy photos for my clients. Don't know of any inkjet yet that will really stand up to that - and I'm not sure what the pigmented ink looks like on glossy - not to mention having to deal with the metamerism issue!!
Guess you can see why I haven't actually bought a new printer yet!
My 2 cents...
I try to drag my clients kicking and screaming into the digital age and explain to them that the most important thing is NOT the print, but rather the digital file.
Obviously you do not want to give someone a print that will fade in 1 year, but most people seem content with 15 to 20 years under proper conditions. From everything I have seen and read the 1280 will easily produce prints that last that long or longer. The color is also more vibrant than the 2000 and cost of materials is less. The only real reason I can see for the 2000 over the 1280 is if you are producing fine art prints of some sort.
Regardless of the printer you decide on, I would include a small note on care and handling with each order. Something to the effect of - Any print whether photographic or inkjet needs to be displayed under glass and displayed away from direct sunlight... etc..
I usually provide a cd with the restored photo as well.
By the way, I'm not sure if you have CompUSA in New York, but my local store has both the 2000 and 1280 set up side by side and will let you make prints on both. You might want to check them out if you have one nearby.
Last edited by G. Couch; 04-21-2002 at 10:15 PM.
One other resource that I don't see mentioned in your post is
InkJetArt.com. They have a ton of great information on their site and though I've never called them, I probably will before deciding which printer to buy. They seem to have a lot of knowledge about the Epsons and have done a lot of research.
They also offer a service where they will make test prints on various Epson printers for you. You tell them which printer and what type of paper you want the test printed on and they send you the results a day later.
Hope this helps,
Hey there. I also own a photography and restoration service and own the Epson 2000p in addition to lots of other printers. I've had pretty good to stunningly good results from it, but its finicky, and somewhat frustrating to use. If you are really interested in the inside scoop to the printer, there is a yahoo group setup just for it
Its great to hear the good, bad, and ugly from users all over the world.
The printer I like the best is definately the Olympus P-400. Its a dye sublimation printer that prints pics that are virtually identical to traditional photo papers (and is cheaper to buy and operate than the 2000P). IMHO that printer is the inside trade secret to digital photography. The only drawback to it is that it doesn't print as large as 8x10 (more like 7.75 x 10). But most of the restoration jobs I get are smaller than that anyway.
Boy- this is the kind of dialogue I was hoping for. To answer G.Gouch, yes, I have an interest in "fine art" printing. Thanks for the link to InkJetArt.com very useful.
It sounds like the 2000p might be the way for you to go, especially if you are creating art prints. I get most of my digital art produced as Giclee prints on Arches watercolor paper. Most galleries are more than happy to accept and sell a giclee and the service I use guarantees them to resist fading for up to 75 years. If I printed to glossy photo however, they only guarantee it for 10 years.
I think the 2000p printing to good quality, acid free paper is about as close as you can get to "archival" from a desktop printer.
Re: My New Photo Restoration Business
What is a 50 year print worth in real life. Do sentimental picture owners really care? Or do they just want to know their restored photo is as good as any RC Color print from the 1970s on?
Good Luck in your new venture!!! ...And to cover just one of your questions, yes the clients do really care! Giving them the option of a product that will live up to true archival standards is one way to set yourself apart from the vast majority who talk about their product in terms like "It's as good as any regular photo finisher will do", "this is the way that everybody else is doing it" etc. etc.
Repeat business will come from the job YOU do. The new business you build will come from the clients and friends of the clients who went to the guy who told them mediocre was "good enough". And BTW, we work to a minimum 150 year standard rather than the 50 you mentioned. If you use traditional archival materials that can easily be accomplished in one printing - if you use digital, it will require providing a backup for any print you provide on a gold CD with a fairly large file along with counseling the client that it will still take at least one transfer to meet the 150 year criteria. Promising too much is a good route to oblivion and the people promising longevity for their inkjet prints are on their way out of business even if they don't know it yet!
Timemark Photo Conservators
What do you base your 150 year claim on? Do you have documented test results or is this an estimate? The projected life of prints from the Pigment based inkjet printers is based on hard data from the Wilmeilm( not sure of spelling) Institute which conducts rigorious testing under highly controlled settings. Tom
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