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FORUMS Post Processing, Marketing & Presenting Photos The Business of Photography 
Thread started 27 Nov 2012 (Tuesday) 11:37
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Photo Printing Business

 
Alex_Venom
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Nov 27, 2012 11:37 |  #1

Not sure if this post fits in here, but if not any moderator feel free to move it.

I've been working with a few other photographers and due to the volume of photos we get printed it started to sound attractive to have our own professional printer at the studio.
Having a professional grade printer would:

- Lower our costs on printing
- Allow for faster prints (this is the most important for us right now)
- Allow for better color calibration (second most important reason)
- Allow for "extra" services when we're not actually using the printer, as sell photo printing services

The thing is: none of us have absolutely no idea where to start! :p

Which solution would be better (in quality, longevity and cost): inkjet or dye-sublimation?
Should we get a big format printer like the Pixma (inkjet) or a smaller one like the 6x9" dye-sublimation? (the 6x9" would serve us well but probably not all clients)
Should we get something like a Kodak Kiosk with the user-interface/card reader stuff or just a really good printer and attach to our Macs? Any suggestions on the best printers we should take a look at?

Any tips and hints will help!
Thank you in advance!


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Nathan
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Nov 27, 2012 12:03 |  #2

I don't know about others, but I'd expect a printing business to utilize something like an imagePROGRAF series printer, if from Canon. Pixmas are nice printers, but more for individual photographers printing for his or her clients. The volume of orders to a printing business would likely kill a Pixma in a relatively short time. If you're a printing business with even several Pixmas seem like a small scale shop. Not sure if it's worth repeat customers when they discover you can only print up to 19" wide.

Kiosks create cheap prints. If I'm happy with that type of quality, I'd more conveniently get my photos printed at the drug store while I'm shopping around than go to a specialized photography printing service. If I was a professional printing service, I think the value I'd bring to my customers would be professional color correction and quality prints... people would be leaving their images for me, not going up to a self-service booth.


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Alex_Venom
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Nov 27, 2012 16:34 |  #3

Thank you so much, Nathan! This is exactly the kind of information I'm after!
As you can see I'm totally lost here. I'm going to research the imagePROGRAF series!


Photography is about GEAR and not talent or practice. Practice won't make you a better photographer. Expensive equipment will. =D
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Nathan
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Nov 27, 2012 20:25 |  #4

If you want to get a sense of high-end professional printers, go to BHPhoto and look at their more expensive options. They have models that are more than 10 grand. You don't have to go there, but that's just to give you a sense of the range and options available.

Honestly... before you think about making any capital expenses, what's your business plan? You have to start off with a business plan. You can always plan to print small in-house and then outsource your larger prints. For example, if business is slow to start with then you can get by with a few Pixmas. Try that out for a year and see how many orders you get for larger prints. Make business expenditures as necessary according to demand.

Don't worry about my earlier statement about what I expect a professional printing business will use as equipment. To be honest, I've never asked what they use. I have, however, asked about color profiles and walk away when staff don't know what I'm talking about.


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glumpy
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Nov 28, 2012 02:01 |  #5
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I went through this myself recently.
You really have to look at the volume and work you are doing. No use buying a 24" printer if the bulk of your orders are 8x12 or less.

If they are and you are punching plenty out, then Fuji, Noritsu and a few others have nice minilab setups now that -MAY- be profitable IF you have the volume.
But watch that. Given the costs of the machine, power, and consumables, the end results may not be that much cheaper than a lab.
For me, I couldn't come near the price I was printing for using domestic high end inkjets. The Quality is more than sufficient and I'm not even Running the things to their full, more time consuming potential. I'll probably buy an A3 machine soon and I'd love a wide format but the reality is that would be far more a toy for me than something I'm confident I could justify on a business level.

Add to the fact you need somewhere to put it, someone has to run, maintain and do things like calibrate it, you have to look at the time factor as well. DoWhich is going to make you the more money, getting out there shooting or marketing yourself or possibly saving ( maybe) some money on print costs?
Using the serious machines is not like using a home printer. It's much more critical and mistakes cost money.

Contact some of the manufacturers after determining what your real needs are and weigh up the cost ( and risk) of your own machine and the upfront and long term investment in time and money and see how that compares to dropping images off at the lab and letting them do all the work, worry and foot the bills of the machines.


From RDKirk: First, let me check the forum heading...yes, it does say "Business of Photography" and not "Hobby of Photography." Okay. So we're talking about making money, not about hobbies. By "business" I am presuming activities that pay expenses and produce a profit over the long term.

  
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PhotosGuy
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Nov 28, 2012 10:02 |  #6

Having a professional grade printer would:
- Lower our costs on printing
- Allow for faster prints (this is the most important for us right now)
- Allow for better color calibration (second most important reason)
- Allow for "extra" services when we're not actually using the printer, as sell photo printing services

Sounds great, doesn't it? I'm wondering what your volume is now, & what you project it to be for the future?
And what's the rush, "Allow for faster prints (this is the most important for us right now)", & why is that a factor?
Will everyone do their own printing (too many cooks!) or will there be one designated printer, & would his time be better spent doing something else?

FWIW, I don't try to compete with Costco's $500,000 printers or their $3 price for great 12X18" prints, so I don't try to. I can upload files at 1AM & pick up the prints at 10AM, which is fast enough to make me happy, & I don't have to think about maintenance.


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J ­ Michael
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Nov 28, 2012 20:39 |  #7

Color management is an important aspect to this. Most people can learn to discern fine color differences, but it takes time and practice. You must proactively manage your process in order to ensure good looking output with minimal waste. Waste is expensive both in time and materials.

Don't look at the initial acquisition cost of the printer as your primary selection criteria. Also look at workflow, environmental factors such as noise, and maintenance.

A wide format printer can be an excellent choice even when you only print small prints since you can gang print packages across the width of your paper. You also add the capability to print large prints which generally offer higher sales margins.




  
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