No announcement yet.

collections, family archives, how to market ?

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • collections, family archives, how to market ?

    Years ago I did several very large photocopy projects...resized, produced better-than-original images, only occasionally even suggesting restoration because I didn't like the looks of airbrushing and it was a hassle anyway...

    I was stupid to charge on a piecework basis: The clients could have afforded much more. I demeaned my skilles by charging $4 for this, $20 for that, even though some billings rose above $1000.

    Many potential customer/client families have huge collections of important photos and family-historic documents (old wedding announcements, newspaper articles, letters) and those collections will disperse and eventually be lost unless MULTIPLE sets of copies are printed relatively-archivally, packaged (eg in albums or boxes), and distributed to key family members.

    The only way these family archives will exist in 100 years will be if multiple copies are distributed.

    The only way future families will care in the least is if these sets are attractive and accompanied by key family information, anecdotes etc.

    SO....some of you must already deliver this service...right?

    How do you package such services ?

  • #2
    I give a free archive CD and charge for any additional CDs. I also keep two sets of archives containing the original and finished photos on DVD.


    • #3
      I have done photo albums (photos only) for familys. We try to get the families to get together, pick out which photos they want in the album, then copy and produce as many copies as they need. Then everyone who gets an album kicks in their share of the cost.

      We find that most families when they start sharing their photos, the other members do not have any knowledge of a great many of the photos. We have had folks buy copies of the album for their young children so each child will have one when they grow up etc etc.

      Most of the time there is one member of the family that is the leader in this while the rest of the family just sort of goes along for the ride.

      Have sold both copies of the album as prints and copies on CD's. The way I deal with the $ issues is to have them get everything together, including the number of copies they need, then give them a bid for the entire job. After a few years of doing this kind of work, I can figure out how long it will take to do whats needed so I do not really end up giving them the farm!

      I also stress to them that there is a savings in bulk, so make sure I am doing all that you need at the same time, an additional copy done a couple of months down the road is going to be much more expensive than the copies I am doing all together at one time.

      I have in the past done some of these kind of jobs in what we call a "gap filler" mode. What I mean by that is that I will work on your job when I have nothing else to do, but as soon as something else comes in, yours goes back on the shelf. They get a lower price, I get something to fill in the dead spots in my schedule. I do however give them an absolute done date, even tho it might be 6 months or a year away. If it works for both of us, good deal....

      I have never had anyone ask about things like family information, anecdotes and things like that, have to admit I never thought to ask either. Will change that.

      So thank you for your idea, and I hope you can get some ideas from my rather long post. I will be looking for others to post something here...



      • #4
        I'm thinking about NOT providing CDs because we know that CDs won't be as archival as good quality inkjet prints, distributed through several family lines. CDs will also cause us grief (require our tech support) and hurt future reprint orders, which is important if one sees this as a real business.

        Instead I'm thinking about optionally providing an archival B&W 6X9 copy negative, perhaps "for free," though not using that negative to make their prints. That way they'll have something excellent to use if they want to make additional prints in some surviving home darkroom, or if they can find a decent commercial lab that will work with that format.

        I don't intend to offer a "competitive" lab or restoration service.

        My goal is more to help them meet their obligations to their yet-unborn family, their great grandkids as adults. ...which includes helping them select from among their photos and documents.



        • #5
          May I play devils advocate for a minute or two?

          "I'm thinking about NOT providing CDs because we know that CDs won't be as archival as good quality inkjet prints, distributed through several family lines. CDs will also cause us grief (require our tech support) and hurt future reprint orders, which is important if one sees this as a real business."

          I cannot comment on the archival differance between CD's and inkjet prints as I have not seen anything discussing that. If you could point me to something I would appreciate it. However the comment about future reprint orders is one that I have seen discussed quite extensively in the portrait studio threads. With the advent of the family scanner and inkjet printer and the printers that seem to be in every store in town, the future of "future reprint orders" seems to be doomed. The only business model that seems to make much sense in todays world is one where you make all the money you need to make before any prints or files leave your studio, because once they do, the do it yourselfers will scan and make their own reprints. I know that the quaility will be less that prints that we make, but they will think its good enough. So to have a real business in todays world, one has to be very cautious of the home based scaner and printer.

          "Instead I'm thinking about optionally providing an archival B&W 6X9 copy negative, perhaps "for free," though not using that negative to make their prints. That way they'll have something excellent to use if they want to make additional prints in some surviving home darkroom, or if they can find a decent commercial lab that will work with that format."

          When I first read that "6x9 copy negative" I thought that you meant 6 x 9 inches and could not figure that, but after some thought I assume you mean 6x9 cm. I can see where you are heading with a sales pitch about the archival quaility of the negative (if done correctly) but in my neck of the woods, folks are busy getting their negatives copied to either CD's or DVD's. Home darkrooms are getting to be really hard to find (if you know anyone who has one and needs some darkroom gear, give him my name I have been trying to get rid of the stuff for 5 years). Almost all the commercial labs around here (what few are left) do not print from negatives, they scan the negs and print from the scans. With everyone seeming to be going to some kind of digital format, I am not sure that going back to a film basis for storage is really a salable idea.

          I am interested in how you convince people that they have an obligation to unborn generations. I agree that they do, and am always working on material that I want to pass down, but we tried that with family portraits for a few years. We would ask, "do you have portraits of your great grandparents, do you enjoy them, if so what are you leaving for your great grand kids?" The answer was usually a kind of half smile and a plea to stop making them feel guility just because they did not like having their photo taken. But they would gladly pass down their copies of their great grandparents. An interesting look at human nature (and maybe poor salesmanship?).

          Anyway just some thoughts on your response. An enjoyable exchange.



          • #6
            Very interesting tread. seems alot of you have bin in the buisness for some time and know how to work in it.
            Im considering making some restorration work, maybe as part of a team or something so im not alone about it.
            Have you any good links on how to get startet, where to find people who are wiling to pay for their memories?



            • #7
              Short CD lifespan is discussed at ...and they sell neo-archival "Gold" CDs. We know conventional photos can survive usefully for 100+ years, and we believe/hope better quality digital prints will as well. I've seen websites that discuss CD lifespan. DVDs are evidently far worse, incidentally...failing faster than video tape.

              There will always be some lab that prints film negatives, digitally of course. Many of us currently use flatbeds (eg my Epson 3200) to make beautiful prints from scans of negatives of all sizes. Anybody want to buy a nice Durst or Leica enlarger? I'm using a beautiful Fuji 105 enlarging lens as a lupe!

              The name of the game for entrepreneurs is niche marketing...whereas Walmart markets to the masses. Apples/oranges. If I tell someone who quibbles about price that they should take their valuable project to someone who uses cheap resources and gives them a CD rather than a real piece of film (bigger than they've seen before), do you think they will ALL take that advice, or will some of them pay me a high price?

              There will always be somebody cheaper, and there will always be somebody who's successful charging far more.

              Relevant: Insurance is sold using guilt. Do we have insurance? Does that sales methodology work? Will it work with photographs? Doesn't it already in other aspects of photography (wildly expensive wedding sets etc)?

              I really appreciate the responses on this topic! Great Forum!


              • #8
                Originally posted by westsidemaurice
                I'm thinking about NOT providing CDs because we know that CDs won't be as archival as good quality inkjet prints, distributed through several family lines. CDs will also cause us grief (require our tech support) and hurt future reprint orders, which is important if one sees this as a real business..

                I would advise giving the customer the option of CD or Negative. If they wish to have the work printed on real photo stock (higher archival standard than inkjet prints).
                Negatives tend to be a little less hardy than cds, just based on my own lab experience. As well, do advise them that they will likely have to seek out a custom lab to produce good quality prints from thier media whichever it may be.
                I do not know what original sizes you are working with, but in my place of past employment, we offered 4x5 B&W negs both of the original print and of the restored version gratis...of course we were doing really extensive restoration work.
                Hope this gives you some more info to work with, options to explore
                Best of luck with your endeavours!


                • #9
                  There appears little doubt that few CDs will make it 20 years unless the neo-archival "Gold" variety is used...and nobody knows if even that is hype or not. Certainly CDs won't be very commonly in use in 20 years, they're already being phased out.

                  CDs may be handled more carefully than film, or be more durable in handling. But that seems no justification for reliance on an iffy medium.

                  Digital prints made properly, with Epson or perhaps HP neo-archival pigments, are said to have long life potential. Who knows? They evidently do survive harsh tests that may approximate the effects of many years. True archival survival depends entirely upon being copied again, if and when they begin to change, and upon being distributed as multiple sets through a family.

                  Regarding color, very few surviving traditional photo labs, and literally no minilabs, use proper chemistry or washing methodology anymore...there's little reason to expect wet-processed photo prints (as opposed to inkjet photo prints) to survive as long as in the past.

                  Traditional color materials are NOT safely considered long-lived. In my own work pile and collection there are excellent Kodachromes (various formats including 46mm, sheetfilm and prints!) from WWII, terrible Ektacolors from the eighties and even ninties, and excellent Agfacolors that I personally printed in the Seventies (special processing...Agfacolor's life expectancy was only 4 years back then).

                  4X5 is a more marketable copy format than 6X9 and there are handling advantages (vs rollfilm), but it offers no improvement in sharpness or tonality for copy work unless the original is very large (eg big paintings).


                  • #10
                    i do agree with the longevity of materials, one never knows as all the testing in the world can't cover every single storage mishap that could occur.
                    Over the years i have seen some wonderfully preserved stuff and some scary damage...that's part of the fun...never know what your customer is going to hand you And part of what makes this site great is all of our varied experiences, levels of expertise and ideas we can share with one another

                    I think quality still depends on the experience of your tech and the amount of care they put into thier work. I've worked both full on custom and mini labs and personally have always been comitted to providing the best possible work that I could, but hey that's just my work ethic

                    Come right down to it, there is no permanent medium. I just give my customers the choice of whatever medium they prefer and educate them on the pros and cons. People like to have choices, makes them feel good about participating in the process.

                    For the hard copy album you were talking about....I am hunting about on the internet because I can't remember the name of the company....they have some really nice archival stuff, nice looking albums....keep you posted if I can find the company again


                    • #11
                      Another of my quick questions:

                      If you do get a customer and you do all the things with old photos, documents whatever and they are all in boxes being distributed through that family, then what?

                      You have saved their history up to that date. But history never stops being made, so do you think that you would go back to that family on some kind of a time line and save everthing that has happened since the last time you visted?

                      With enough customers, one could make a career out of this

                      Got to get some work done.......



                      • #12
                        Juliana, It's a great idea to share archival product ideas, as well as marketing ideas.

                        Along that line I purchased some archival plastic print sleeves from, like them a lot...they seem to add value and they do eliminate damage from grubby hands.

                        For inexpensive technological-looking archival folders and portfolios I don't think there's anything to compete with Itoya Art Profolios and Express Profolios. But they're definitely not warm/fuzzy/family-looking. I think similar things may be available expensively, with leather covers (for the carriage trade :-)

                        Minilabs and some custom labs are increasingly using small-quantity "convenience" chemistry kits which are too small to prevent significant chemical pollution. The goal is usability by untrained employees, minimal maintainance, and passable product. Chemical quality control seems far lower than it was five years ago.


                        • #13

                          I couldn't find those albums, but a company called AlbumsInc has some comprable stuff.....the ones I am thinking of have that really nice old school family bible look, would look cool for the project if you want to get into that kind of presentation.

                          Your point about chemistry. Are you talking about the mix on board solutions, the cartridge based solutions or 20 gallon batches? And were you talking about erratic chemical activity or cross-contamination when you said "pollution"?


                          • #14
                            cd's??? Archival??? Not yet...

                            Cd's have been shown to start deteriorating significantly in 2 years. I do everything that I can to discourage using cd's among my customers. If they want something that they can use in the short term for promotional purposes - great - but anything over 2 years is getting risky, IMO.



                            • #15
                              Impermanence of CDs is a very good concept to share with customers.

                              Let the CD marketers claim in response that their product will survive ...what's important is that doubt's raised. The big brands won't claim their CDs are archival.

                              The big brands such as Sony and Maxell don't make their own CDs, they outsource to third world countries. The packaging doesn't tell you who or where the CD was manufactured... somewhere cheaper than the US or Japan, that's for sure.

                              We can toss CDs into the deal if we want to shoot ourselves in the feet, but we shouldn't brag about it. If we want to provide archival services we should maintain HDs in safety deposit vaults to back up those in our facilities.

                              That concept is like traditional photographic practice in which the photographer retains the negative for the longterm reprint business and for the benefit of the customer in the future, since the customer won't properly care for the negatives.

                              We don't make any money making CDs, we make prints. We can make prints that are for sure archival (silver) or scientifically shown to be archival (some Epson inkjet, per Wilhelm). Nobody can produce evidence that CDs are archival.

                              Proper prints are more archival than digital media.


                              Related Topics


                              • roger_ele
                                Archive Business Idea
                                by roger_ele
                                I have recently started archiving a collection of old photos and negatives for my family, and have thus realized that this is a need that lots of people may have. Where restoration is motivated by people that want a photo fixed, archiving is for those that want their collection of photos to be saved...
                                11-20-2002, 12:59 AM
                              • Ed_L
                                Think About This!
                                by Ed_L
                                Movie theatres, florists, craft shops, cotton candy, art fairs, gift shops, Radio Shack, video stores. What do they have in common? They are all in direct competition with you for the expendable dollar. Now you have to put your thinking cap on. What can you do to get your fair share? I don't expect...
                                08-11-2001, 11:51 AM
                              • keepemcomin
                                How to get a waiver for old photos?
                                by keepemcomin
                                My aunt sent me two photos of my grandparents' wedding in 1948. She tried to get them reprinted at a developer, but they wouldn't do it because she didn't have a waiver.

                                Firstly, I thought a waiver wasn't necessary after 40 years. Am I wrong?

                                Secondly, how can we go about...
                                03-07-2005, 01:06 PM
                              • alceria
                                Questions about Retouching Businesses
                                by alceria
                                First off, hello. I'm new to this board, though I've been to the site a few times before.

                                I'm interested in finding out what kind of people are doing restorations. Are you doing them for a hobby or for work? If you are doing them for work, is it the main part of your business or...
                                11-13-2002, 07:30 PM
                              • rie
                                panoramic photos rolled up
                                by rie
                                I have about 6 panoramic photos that have been rolled up for who knows how many years.
                                the photos are WWI era. At least one is by 'thompson illustragraph co'. There is some damage to them, a couple have cracks from trying to unroll them , a couple have tears, no idea how they got them. I'm...
                                08-17-2008, 08:43 PM