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4x5 Negs - the heart of a business system

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  #21  
Old 05-30-2002, 11:30 PM
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G. Couch G. Couch is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jim Conway
...In an inventory of our work, in the sizes, styles and to meet the needs of the clients very little of it can be done on, by or even in the same room with a computer. Most of it can't even be scanned on any ordinary scanner, and right now we have over $3 K in hand oils to do mostly duplicates of old 13 1/2x 18-1/2 "Crayon" prints (I have several freelance artists who do most of it) so I was asking for the same type of information I was giving on my business. I'm not at war against computers, I have a very heavy investment in them!
This is why I mentioned digital back cameras. It sounds like when you got into digital, you invested in a flatbed scanner...which is great if you have lots of work that is of the proper size! For the type of work you seem to have, you probably should have gone for a digital back...if you really want good results.

You say of your work that, "very little of it can be done on, by or even in the same room with a computer". That's true if all you have is a flatbed scanner, but I think you would be surprised at the quality a good digital back can give you. You sound like you are doing just fine though...without any digital!
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  #22  
Old 05-31-2002, 04:16 AM
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Jim Conway Jim Conway is offline
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I think perhaps we are losing something here in the anxiety to "go digital" ...when a client comes in, I say: "The first thing we are going to do for you is to make you a 4x5 negative" .... then I go on to expain THEIR options with my services. (Solid benefits)

I believe what you are talking about is equipment and MY options ...or to put this another way, if the "digital back" is at the heart of YOUR business, how does this benefit your clients and how do you present it?.

Jim C
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  #23  
Old 05-31-2002, 05:43 AM
Vikki Vikki is offline
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I'm OK Jim, just maybe having a difficult time following what you mean.
Let's see if I have this right:
You have digital equipment that you can't use for restorations, so you would like to know what else you can do with the equipment - what other services you could offer.

And, or, what aspect of the digital process can be successfully integrated into the tradional business.

How'd I do?
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  #24  
Old 05-31-2002, 07:44 AM
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Jakaleena Jakaleena is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jim Conway
when a client comes in, I say: "The first thing we are going to do for you is to make you a 4x5 negative" .... then I go on to expain THEIR options with my services. (Solid benefits)Jim C
If I had the equipment now that I'm hoping to have in the future, I'd alter that first statement. I'd tell them that "the first thing we are going to do is copy the image." I like Greg's idea on this to get a digital back camera to do the initial copy work with, and that's the first copy I'd make.

I'd give them the option of final prints - either RC or Fiber.

For those that choose RC, the digital copy would be repaired, restored, colored, and whatever else needed to be done and burned onto a CD. Then I'd have an RC print made and give both the CD and the print to the client.

If the client had chosen to have a Fiber print, I'd go through all of the above except for any coloring, and I'd shoot a 4x5 neg of the RC print. I'd make a Fibre print from the neg and do any necessary coloring by hand.

I'm hoping eventually to be able to offer that kind of service, with both methods available.

I have to agree with Vikki on a lot of points. I have found that the average "Joe on the street" who comes to me just wants a new print at a reasonable price. My minimum charge for a basic repair starts at $40.00. My max, for a completely disasterous repair, is $150.00. For that amount, my clients get the necessary digital work, a CD of the final work, and an 8x10 RC print. For the amount of work I put into a repair, I think that's fairly reasonable. But, I've had a lot of clients get that "you gotta be kidding" look on their faces when I tell them what the cost is. I've asked a few of them what they had in mind as a budget for the work, and have been told more than once that they thought it was only going to be something like $5-$10.

I think if a client is knowledgable about photography and old prints, they can really appreciate the benefit of a good, archival, fiber print that has been made using traditional methods. I don't think most average people have the kind of background that will let them appreciate that, and consider nothing more than the final cost to them and whether it will last for THEIR lifetime... For those people, offering an RC print makes sense to me.

I wouldn't offer digital prints at this point though, since I still prefer the quality of chemically processed RC prints over digital prints.
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  #25  
Old 05-31-2002, 10:23 AM
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Jim Conway Jim Conway is offline
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Right on Vikki - I'm in a forum that nearly everyone but me does nothing but digital - I'm sitting here with 10K investment in a work station that we put in last fall and early this year (including that Cintiq) - I've had one "associate" that came and went so it's being used a few minutes a week for a game of FreeCell.

Changing our product standards just to be able to say we use it is not my idea of a good idea. (making a digital copy and color inkjet print of a hand oil and calling it an oil is a change in standards) so it has to be integrated into the business in some reasonable manner.

Jim Conway
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  #26  
Old 05-31-2002, 11:08 AM
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Jim Conway Jim Conway is offline
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Jak ...the first question we ask when someone calls or comes in to our showroom is; "Are you looking for museum quality work?" Then we go on to "show and tell" explain our cleaning the originals, the 4x5 negs and the reason we use that as a starting point ...etc. The guy with a $5.00 budget will listen, look at the exhibits, learn - and tell others what they learned. Many years ago I learned that people with money and good taste have to have some place to buy and they generally don't head for WalMart. If your business stands up to that "taste test" you'll enjoy a good life based on referrals from both the haves and the have nots and the hours in a day will still be the same!

Jim Conway
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  #27  
Old 05-31-2002, 11:59 AM
Vikki Vikki is offline
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OK, now I see where you're coming from.
To answer the question regarding my process:
(whole process can take as little as 3 days).

Scan or digitally photograph the image.
In Photoshop, perform repairs, restorations, coloring, whatever.
Upload, or mail out CD image file to online printing.
Once the prints return, and are the quality I expect, the images always look better than the original.
So basically, that's what I offer/provide to my customers.

In comparison to what you offer, I guess I'm the "fast food" version of what you do.

Back to you.
Many of us here are digital geeks, and may see some potential uses for what you have.....exactly what equipment do you have?
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  #28  
Old 05-31-2002, 12:43 PM
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G. Couch G. Couch is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jim Conway
I'm sitting here with 10K investment in a work station that we put in last fall and early this year (including that Cintiq) - I've had one "associate" that came and went so it's being used a few minutes a week for a game of FreeCell.

Jim, my earlier point was that you probably have the wrong digital equipment for the job you need to do. A 10k investment in a computer and flatbed scanner is not going to do you any good if most of your work is larger than 8"x10".
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  #29  
Old 05-31-2002, 02:03 PM
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thomasgeorge thomasgeorge is offline
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Both the digital and traditional processes have their strengths and weaknesses. Trying to transition into one from the other is quite an exercise...much like I would imagine the photographers from days gone by experienced when transitioning from Ambrotypes, tintypes etc., to Albumin...
As in any new undertaking there is a steep learning curve and the temptation to just go back to the old established way of doing things is real strong, but, what it takes to master any new thing is practice and time...judging a new technology by the first attempts to use it, is a bit like deciding you dont want to learn how to walk or ride a bicycle because at first the results are not exactly what is desired...practice and more practice is what is needed...
I am totally digital and do my own printing and the results, at least to judge by customers responses are excellent, as I draw from towns as far as 100 miles away and am frequently presented with traditional style prints from copy negatives, which are not very good...now I think this is due more to lack of experience with the copy negative procedure, which I understand to be the most difficult type of photography to do and requires a whole wagon load of skill and experience ( there's that "E" word again).
Digital isnt going away...not with the investments made in it by the Big Corporations like Kodak, etc., what I see is a fusion of the two technologies..each complementing each other. But who knows...just my opinion....Tom

Last edited by thomasgeorge; 05-31-2002 at 02:15 PM.
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  #30  
Old 05-31-2002, 02:42 PM
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Jim Conway Jim Conway is offline
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I keep thinking this thread will get picked up so glad you jumped in Tom :-)

On DIGITAL BACKS - I'd love to own one but (go to the beginning of the thread) it wouldn't add anything to my services and I already own all the equipment I actually need for the work I do. I can take and process 24 negs in a few hours and I can hand my clients a human readable record that they can store for centuries without question.

On McDonalds - ok Vikkie - I'm with you on that! I like my Western hats, my boots ...and fast food. My wife prefers fine dining and so like Tom has done in this thread - we try and find the best in both worlds.

On TIME - I'm at the end of the trail in more ways than one. When I put the digital equipment in here, the idea was (and maybe still is) to draw young blood into the business, offer a partnership that would give him or her a jump start - then turn it over and go fishing ....

Seeing as how that hasn't worked out yet and the Salmon are running, if you'll all excuse me - with or without that partner, I'm goin' fishin!

Jim C
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