Thursday, June 26, 2008

The death of a lab

I read today's Seattle PI about the sale of Ivey Imaging, or rather the closure of the business and the sale of the digital equipment to a graphics company. I don't, as many photographers here do, get why. Ivey Imaging was the last and the best digital/film lab and print service in the Puget Sound.

I had my only award winning photo printed there. I've had a lot of other prints made and many rolls and sheets of film processed there. They were good and affordable. Now we here don't have a lab left in business for which will do all films, namely B&W, E-6 and C-41 roll and sheet film processing and print to any size you want. They weren't always the cheapest, but they were always the best.

And now they're gone. For what? The buyer didn't buy the business, they wanted the equipment, but only the digital equipment. The film lab which was profitable (why not, it was the last in the area) wasn't a consideration in their plan. It's simple gone, and all the customers are left to find a new lab, the closest in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

But wait, they bought the company's customer list too. Gee, a ready market for their new digital printing service? After all the buyer is a tradeshow banner and graphics company. All I can say, which I doubt will happen, is I hope they don't contact me (being on the list, ok, an incidental one). They will get an earful.

And so, photography here changes as in all major cities as film labs and print services quit, left to the ever shrinking on-line services and home production. Does it effect me? Like the lower shelf in my refrigerator and vegetable drawer is full of 35mm and sheet film. Ya think?

I hope the employees who lost their jobs the best. They were cool and great people. They deserve better. And the rumor another company may be interested in the film lab? Well, photographers are always full of hope. How else do you think we look at a fresh roll of film?

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