By Georgia Suter
Reeds Photo Shop, a full service photography shop and studio, will be moving from its current location in Amagansett Square to East Hampton Village, at 3 Railroad Avenue. The photo shop, which has been in business for 45 years and produces everything from one hour color film processing and ink jet prints, to professional portrait photography and custom framing, is moving from the enclosed square to a more exposed destination that owner, Dennis Carr, believes will bring more foot traffic.
“It’s a better location and a nicer space, and it’s street front,” he says.
The transition takes place at a time when photo shop technology is going through radical transitions of its own.
Being a photography shop in an increasingly digital world can entail certain challenges, but as Carr describes, the innovation and image quality that come with novel software is lucrative. While photography used to require exposing film and then using chemical processing to develop the image, digital photography uses light sensors to capture the image focused by the lens. That captured image is then stored as a digital file and ready for all kinds of adjustments, whether it’s color correction, cropping or removing imperfections. Essentially, digital photography enables the image to be printed, manipulated or archived, avoiding the chemical processing all together and as Carr describes, making the image incredibly adaptable.
“It used to be that photo shops were all involved with processing film. Every two to three weeks, people would come in with requests to process film. Then the world turned upside down and digital became prevalent, ” notes Carr, who bought the photo shop from the original owner in 2006. Where there were changes now and then with film processing, the digital revolution brought on a new kind of change — fast-paced and exponential.
“When it was film, they’d come up with a new type of film, but it wasn’t a huge transition, it was just a new camera, or better optics — transitions were every two to three years. Now it’s every six months.”
To stay ahead of the game, “you have to constantly stay on top of wha’ts going on computer wise and program wise,” explains Carr.
As far as the possibilities that come with the new technologies, Carr doesn’t hesitate to list the many advantages; “we use PhotoShop and other programs to enlarge images all the time, and we have genuine fractals and programs like Image Print software. We can also print on canvas and do digital restoration, so you can add a head into a group for example. Or, if you have an old photo, we can scan the original and fix tears and discoloration. We can also take slides, scan them, and create a slide show that you can view.”
Another phenomenon that has come with the digital world is the affordability of technology and of cameras, specifically.
“To transition to the camera world, it used to be that cameras had a very good profit margin — from 8 to 10 percent. Now it’s minimal, it’s a loss leader, ” notes Carr.
With the Internet revolution, “people also started to come in, look at the cameras, then go buy the camera online! So you’re actually only really making money on camera bags, lens caps and accessories.”
These changes in retail profit, and the ability of consumers to find products online, is part of what instigated Carr to pull back from the camera retail side of it all, and focus more on the art of printing — on the actual “giclees” as they’re called. The French word refers to the process of making fine art prints from a digital source, using ink-jet printing.
In an era of constant change Carr explains that there are certain human desires that keep people trickling into the photo shop; “people want their prints, and they want large prints — blown up. Then matting and framing. It’s the whole process of taking an image to the wall,” he states, explaining that the image is part of a whole experience, representing the way people record and remember events.
Along with the art of printing and recording memories, Carr also notes that the customer service is an integral part of keeping the photo shop and studio alive and thriving. “We’re all professional photographers here, so you’re going to get the best prints. We also help people in using the technology themselves — people can do basic editing and color coding on their own. A large part of the whole experience is customer service.”
Ideally, customers can come in and leave with a mountable memory — “people will come in from a trip to Africa with 600 images. We normally try to get it done by the end of the day.”