Guest blogger: Holly Hughes, Editor, Photo District News

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Photo District News recently announced our 2013 PDN’s 30 new and emerging photographers to watch. Now in its 14th year, this special issue and online gallery, http://pdn30.pdnevents.com/gallery/2013/ celebrates 30 photographers who have worked as professionals for five years or less, selected by PDN’s editors from more than 300 portfolios submitted from around the world.  The announcement of our selection elicited the reaction we’ve come to expect: excitement, curiosity, warm congratulations for the selected photographers and some grumblings, mostly from veteran photographers, about all the attention lavished on upstarts. But PDN’s 30 is more than a showcase for new talent. It also has an educational mission.

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Our profiles of the PDN’s 30 include details about how they honed their photographic vision, the challenges they’ve faced in launching their photographic careers and the most valuable lessons they’ve learned so far. With the support of sponsors like Kodak and other companies committed to helping professional photographers succeed, PDN holds panels at photo schools and workshops around the country. During these panels, some of the PDN’s 30 photographers share with students and aspiring professionals their real-world experience of getting started in today’s competitive and rapidly evolving business. Not so long ago, the PDN’s 30 photographers sat where these students are now: Uncertain how to approach clients or galleries, unaware how much to charge for their work or where to turn for advice. It’s encouraging for students to hear how these emerging photographers learned the ropes, what they use, how they found their own voice and style, how they shoot. The majority of this year’s PDN’s 30 say they shoot film, in fact. But what I think what makes their stories interesting is not only the technical information they share, but the inspiration they offer to photographers at every stage of their careers.

It's Not What She Said, It's How She Said It…

Spread of food and homemade pretzels at Easy Tiger in Austin, Texas

How are the PDN’s 30 chosen? Based on the recommendations of photo editors, gallery directors, curators, art directors, photographers and educators, as well as suggestions made by PDN’s editors based on work we’ve seen throughout the year, we invite photographers to submit work that we review (and re-review) and debate. We look for the qualities that are essential for a long and creative career—a distinctive vision, versatility, and a proven ability to experiment and to complete interesting, enterprising projects. We strive to represent a mix of subjects and genres, including portraiture, fashion, photojournalism, fine art, editorial and commercial work. Once we’ve made our selections, the fun begins. As PDN’s senior editor Conor Risch writes in his letter introducing the 2013 PDN’s 30, “One of the satisfying aspects of working on the PDN’s 30 feature each year is the opportunity we have to get to know the people behind the portfolios of images that stood out to us.” No two photographers have shared the same path to success, but they are all share a passion for photography that is infectious.

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When I prep photographers to speak on PDN’s 30 panels, I always tell them that the students appreciate candid talk about setbacks and mistakes. What’s impressed me most, however, about the enterprising PDN’s 30 photographers of the last two to three years, is their ingenuity. In covering the professional photography market today for PDN, we hear a lot about how the traditional business models are changing. Fewer clients underwrite assignments; the gallery world has contracted; advertisers are cautious about taking risks on new talent or new ideas. In a rapidly changing marketplace, many established photographers are scrambling to adapt. But photographers who got their start within the last five years have no preconceived notions about how the business is “supposed to work.” They’re coming up with new ways to fund their projects and get their work seen.  They’re open-minded about the media, platforms and techniques they use to tell their stories. They don’t let categories like fine art or commercial photography define who they are.

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PDN’s 30 photographers may be newcomers, but they’ve put a lot of work into finding something interesting to say and crafting an original way to say it. They’re deeply committed to sharing the stories they want to tell and they’re confident that if they stay true to themselves, someone will pay attention. If you want an idea of where the photo industry is headed, you could do worse than to look to these future stars who are reinventing the business as they go.

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Kodak Kiosk: Imagine

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Walk into any well-known retailer and odds are you’ll see a KODAK Picture Kiosk. That yellow box that invites consumers to create prints, collages, calendars, cards and photo books.

In the past year, we’ve developed and implemented new applications and technologies to make it even easier for consumers to engage with our kiosks and in turn, ensure our retail customers can extract the maximum value from their investment in our solutions. Those technologies have included mobile applications, in-store and out-of-store solutions and the ability to interact with images on some of the fastest growing image platforms, including Facebook and Instagram.

But images are just the beginning. We have more than 100,000 kiosks installed worldwide, working with retailers ranging from global brands to Mom-and-Pop shops. The common themes among all of these retailers, based on our expertise, are solutions that meet two key criteria: relevance and experience.

So what do we do with the portfolio and what do we do with the products? First, to create the experience, we’re heavily investing in building solutions that allow consumers to engage with kiosk from anywhere – through mobile applications, in-store, at-home, out-of-store. This comprises both technologies that easily enable consumers to “communicate” with the kiosk, as well as applications and products that consumers can easily use to create memories from their images.

Second, we’re thinking beyond the photo. This could mean books, movies, music and even personalized home goods. Through the kiosk, our retail customers can extend the relevance of their investment to broaden the content consumers can create. In the coming months, we are looking to build on the partnerships we announced last year, providing new content creation opportunities for our retail partners and in turn, new revenue streams from a current investment.

“Beyond the photo” illustrates our strategy moving forward – we enable personalized content creation. We are a market leader in the photo category, but that’s just the beginning.  Our strategy embraces better connectivity, broader content creation and ultimately, revenue driving relevance and experience for our retail partners. In the coming weeks, here at Wednesday Works, we’ll explore more of these solutions. We look forward to your feedback.

Easter cards at Kodak Picture Kiosk

Easter seems to have snuck up on us this year. It also seems so short compared to the days long celebration of Christmas. You might not have time to travel to be with friends and family for an Easter get-together. photo4 An Easter card is a nice way to show you are thinking of someone even if you can’t gather for a ham dinner and egg hunt.  photo3 Kodak Picture Kiosk has some really cute Easter card designs. You can make them quickly with your own photos and messages. photo2Perfect for popping in the mail or even adding to an Easter basket. photoAlmost as sweet as a giant chocolate bunny. Find a Kodak Picture Kiosk near you.

Melissa Niu: Kodak and [F] Network partner for Film Season 2

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[F] Network is an educational platform stocked full of inspirational shows and resources for photographers.  And with the ever-changing photography industry that is rapidly shifting to bigger tools and slicker cameras, it’s easy to push and educate to the rising digital world.

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But within the industry, there is a group that has fallen back in love with history.  They have fallen back in love with film.

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Shooting with film has been described by our viewership as a pure, simplistic and actual art form that has taken hold of and awakened their inner artist.  And with the film crowd rising with incredible talent, we couldn’t resist producing a show featuring talented film shooters that is real, relatable and educational for the industry.  We call the show, “Film”.

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Starting in 2012 with Film Season 1 and back again by popular demand, we now are in post-production for Film Season 2 featuring the talented Jan Scholz, Ryan Muirhead, Tanja Lippert, Tia Reagan and Jonas Peterson.  Filmed in the bright lights of Las Vegas, the episodes will be everything analog complete with educational, inspirational and of course, with the unique personalities on the show, moments of relatable and laughable entertainment.

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Kodak film is undeniably the most used and highly favored by each of the hosts featured in Film Season 2.  At any given time, we would see rolls and sheets of PORTRA 160, PORTRA 400, TRI-X, EKTAR 100 and BWCN400 being loaded into the cameras of this talented group. They rave about the smoothness, quality and richness that the Kodak products provide.  This show is about film.  And put quite plainly, it is a must to showcase the film that the hosts love, the film that is a necessity to their art, and most importantly, the film that launched the start and history of image making. See behind the scenes shots on Instagram at http://instagram.com/framednetwork.

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Our partnership with Kodak is indeed an exciting co-branding opportunity to properly educate the beauty and possibilities of the analog art.  With the Kodak products in the hands of Film Season 2’s talented photographers and the episodes that are soon to hit [F] Network mid 2013, you’ll feel the love and complete passion that these artists have for film photography.  So if you’re a photography fan and want to watch a few episodes of Film, consider yourself warned.  You, too, just might fall in love with film.

Melissa Niu, CEO [F] Network

Photo by Ashely Wall

Signs of Spring Photo Book & Page Background How-To

Yesterday was the first day of Spring but it didn’t feel like it in Rochester. There are still patches snow on the ground here and there.

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In order to think positive thoughts and hurry Spring-like weather along, I made a photo book of pictures I have taken in the past of Spring approaching.

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I have a lot of Spring photos on Facebook. I get excited when I see the first bloom or bud, so I take a picture with my phone and post it to Facebook.

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Since these photos are all on Facebook, I used the My Kodak Moments app on Facebook to make my photo book.

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It’s convenient to use My Kodak Moments to build a photo book when all my photos are on right there on Facebook.

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I like to organize my photos on the pages by themes and add special touches like background photos.

Background Photo How-To:

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To make a photo a background photo for the page, make sure the photo you want to be the background is on the page. Add it if it isn’t there. (You can remove it later after it’s the background photo if you don’t want it on the page as a feature photo.)

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Click on the pencil in the upper right corner of the photo and select “Set as Page Background”.

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If you would like to repeat it on the facing page, stretch it across both pages or add it to all your pages click on the pencil in the upper right corner of the page and select “Photo Background Options…”.

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When you are done, if you don’t want that same photo in the foreground click on the pencil and select “Move to Clipboard”.

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I really like the look of a background photo stretched across a two page spread.

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Don’t forget… after you have made a photo book with My Kodak Moments app, you can share it on Facebook so friends can click through it. Image

This way everyone can enjoy a little bit of Spring.

Right now small My Kodak Moment photo books are $5 with free shipping! The offer runs out at the end of March so get yours before the snow melts!

Start your photo book here –> kodak.ly/MKMFBApp

PRINT. PRESERVE. PROTECT

So what is Pixel Preservation International and who is this guy, Joe LaBarca?

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I retired from Kodak in January of 2011 after 34.5 years in R&D, commercialization, technical and management roles.  I spent my entire career in various aspects of hard copy output technologies, with the first two-thirds of the career working on professional color photographic paper.  I managed the Kodak Professional Imaging Systems lab and oversaw the systems and integration development of KODAK PROFESSIONAL Endura papers and display materials (look for “ENDURA” on the back next time you purchase prints).  A majority of my career found me involved in work on image permanence testing, reporting, and communications, both internally with Kodak and externally with the ISO international committee developing image permanence and physical durability standards. Within these roles I became expert in the permanence of not only traditional silver halide color photographic paper, but also the newer “digital technologies” – thermal dye transfer (think instant prints from retail kiosks), inkjet (think prints at home from your inkjet printer), and electrophotographic (think photo books from retail and online locations).

So why tell you about this? Here’s today’s reality. People – your customers – have millions, if not billions, of pictures stored on mobile devices, computers, external drives and clouds.  When those technologies become obsolete, how will they access those memories, those moments, those stories? There is only one proven technology that we know consumers can use to view their images today, tomorrow and 100 years from now. And that is the print. Your job: help your customers free those images from their devices to create lasting, viewable photographs.

In the coming weeks, I’ll guest blog here on Wednesday Works on the topic of long term preservation of images through printing. Last week, Ed Monahan wrote about how soft-copy offerings can drive more hard-copy output. This need for hard copy and preservation are the reasons I founded Pixel Preservation International in 2011. Hard copy is the only format that is totally independent of any current or future digital technologies. Think about that – the only format.

This reality drives Pixel Preservation International and similarly, much of the R&D at Kodak. In essence, only technology independent preservation of digital files through printing can help ensure that as technology advances, your images and your customers’ images are “future proof.” This means making prints, including professional prints on silver halide paper, complementary professional products using electrophotographic media, and instant printing at places like Kodak Kiosks. Kodak has created a framework through which it offers commercial labs, professional labs, wholesale labs, retailers and by association, consumers, multiple proven methods to print, preserve and protect their valuable images. This will help ensure that decades into the future, these moments, these memories, these stories, will be accessible for generations to come.

Leprechaun pugs & Greeting Card Universe

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If you thought I was going to let a holiday go by without dressing up my dogs and taking photos of them, boy were you wrong.    oscar-card-full

For St. Patrick’s Day, I posed them with a store-bought leprechaun hat and a homemade felt ginger beard.

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Unlike typical leprechauns they are looking for a pot of corned beef at the end of the rainbow.

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I have a few St. Patrick’s Day-loving friends that I want to give cards to. It was really easy to upload these photos to Greeting Card Universe and addthem to St. Patrick’s Day card templates.

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I could have had them shipped to my house but I need them right away so I had them directed to Target for pick-up. I can stop at Target on my way home and get them!

I might try and get some pics of the cat in the outfit too!

Holly Gordon: My Ode to Kodak or “Owed” to Kodak

My origins are rooted with Kodak. To say that I was born with a Kodak reflex camera around my neck is a hyperbole, but when I was five years old, my father placed a Kodak Reflex camera around my neck, who said, “ Hold it against your belly, look into the viewfinder and when you are ready to take a picture hold your breath and snap.” I walked around with that camera, constantly documenting my world…and sometimes I even had film in it. There was such a thrill of anticipation as my little fingers split the paper wrapper and threaded the film onto the sprocket…what joy!

That camera is a most cherished possession and sits close to me in my office today. It looks so much smaller than it did when I was five.  I wish I could still get film for it – my T-Max just doesn’t fit. But no matter…Kodak is inexorably woven in my being. My dad set up a darkroom in our bathroom. Oh, the aroma of those Kodak chemicals and viewing the contact strips he made was pure magic…and those sensations led me into every darkroom I have worked in! I wish those early photographs survived….but the camera and memories do.

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Years later, in 1991 to be exact, I took a two-week black and white photography course at the Maine Photographic Workshop in Rockport, Maine with Steve Bliss, the now-head of photography, at Savannah School of Art and Design. I created a self-portrait with an assemblage of Kodak film and developing reels. I called it The Kodak Smile….and that was at least 10 years before Kodak saw my Antarctica photographs printed on Kodak Metallic paper and invited me to become a Kodak Professional Partner.

To add to the serendipitous events in my life, during the summer of 2011, I ran into Steve Bliss in Provence where Savannah School of Art and Design has a satellite program. That’s how I discovered he had been made head of the photography department… and to think that 20 years later our paths intersected….like magic!

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Kodak is integrally woven into my creative roots, was instrumental in defining me as an artist and will always be part of me.

The words of T.S Eliot from The Four Quartets sum up, so appropriately, my relationship with Kodak:

“We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.”

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In my early years of photography my subjects were flowers and butterflies and I searched for perfect specimen. Unconsciously or subconsciously, I composed beyond the flower or butterfly, aiming and focusing on the entire frame because the background had to complement the subject to make the image work.  How I chose to see and compose resonated with others because it was those early butterflies that brought attention from the press and the public.

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As I travel the world Kodak, film fills my camera bag…to the Falkland Islands and Antarctica and to Australia and New Zealand, Europe, South America….

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Wanting to wiggle my way into a newspaper project, I purchased my first digital camera and began shooting with it so I could say I was experienced….but Kodak film, especially T-MAX 100 and TMAX 400 continue to dominate my camera bags.

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I am still running as fast as I can…and so is my slide and film scanner…translating my precious chromes and negs into digital files for printing purposes.  Kodak is ever-present in my heart, viewfinder and printed image.

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Every time I see the Kodak brand, be it in China, France…anywhere…it gets documented…and I smile knowing that all is well with the world of photography because I am not alone. Photographers world-wide still choose to shoot with film.

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Kodak is part of my past, present and future and photography, for me, is the synthesis of my love-affair with life. Thank you, Kodak, for providing me with the means to capture, document, and share my journey.

www.hollygordonphotographer.com

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Socializing Professional Content in the Social World

Immediacy. When we think about ways in which we can help our professional labs and photographer clients drive business in this ever increasingly connected world, we keep coming back to this word. Today’s consumer wants to instantly showcase images, share them with family and friends, and gain immediate reach across their connected world. They still desire “output,” but with the proliferation of smart phones, tablets and social networks, as an industry, we need to broaden our definition of output, starting with soft-copy.

Did anyone cry “heresy?” Giving consumers soft-copy? How will that help drive hard-copy and premium professional output? Simple.  As an industry, we need to meet today’s consumers on their terms. Once we capture the consumers’ interest, we then show them just how much more they can do with the professional content.

It all begins with Socialize – where pro photographers help consumers to satisfy their most basic craving.  Pro photographers can deliver images through Facebook and Twitter, place them into video presentations, or make them accessible on web sites via QR codes. Consumers can then text, email and share via their phone/tablet screen, with family and friends, and push pro content into their connected world.

Having met the need for immediacy and connection with Socialization, we now help the consumers tell their Stories.  Professional photographers excel at helping consumers bring their images to life in something physical and tactile, in the form of high-quality albums, photo books, calendars, cards.  We then follow to complement those story-telling vehicles with high quality heirloom portraits and unique, creative canvas wraps and wall art to the preserve the Memories. Creating a storyline is a much better way for consumers to experience and share their memories.  If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is a high quality portrait album or storybook worth?

Driven by the realization that consumers want to use professional images just as they do their consumer images to enjoy immediate/infinite reach and anytime/anywhere access, we continue to work on our Digital Print Production Software (DP2), to enable professional photographers and labs to meet the consumer where the consumer wants to be met! In version 15, we introduced QR codes and Animoto Slideshow videos – which lets professional labs create visually exciting soft-copy offerings, starting the “Socialization,” component of a complete offering that’s complemented by individual prints and high-quality premium output.

Scan to view a video slideshow demonstration Scan to view a video slideshow demonstration.

Play example videos:

Wedding slideshow ›

Baby slideshow ›

So, from Socialize to Stories to Memories, we can create a logical flow from immediacy to more effective storytelling to the opportunity for display and the security of longevity.  The photographer serves to originate the image, consult and sell across the memory lineup, and champion this message.

Meet consumers where they want to be met.  Lead with the need for immediacy and connection, fast following into the desire for storytelling, and completing the offer with quality portraits that preserve the memory forever.

Josh Moates and Indie Film Lab

Josh Moates, photographer and founder of Indie Film Lab in Montgomery, shares why he got into the film processing game and how a business decision has impacted his art.

I’ve been taking pictures since my mom gave me a 35mm camera for Christmas when I was in high school and for the last 10 years, it’s how I’ve made my living. When I re-discovered film in 2004, it changed the way I thought about photography, and then it changed my business.

A big chunk of my work is weddings, which I love shooting. But in Alabama, I couldn’t charge enough to make shooting film for my clients a truly cost effective option.

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Still, I couldn’t shake my belief that shooting film for an occasion as special as a wedding was important to me and to my clients. We all know the quality of film photos outshines that of digital, and for me, the quality of my composition is better when I’m shooting film.  It stokes my creativity, and not just when shooting happy couples. I have been a 100% Kodak shooter for years because of the new PORTRA line and the classic look of TRI-X.

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When shooting weddings, I use Kodak’s PORTRA color negative films because how easily they scan and how amazing the colors are. The skin tones are truly the best of all the other film brands I have shot. Especially the new Portra 800 – it’s super awesome for lower light situations.  Thank goodness for that film, it has saved me in so many hard to shoot situations.

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And I love, love love TRI-X for black and white; it has the most classic look of any black and white film. When I look at a TRI-X photograph, it almost looks like it has a soul. I keep it loaded in my Leica M6. Not to mention it is the most versatile film ever. It can be shot at pretty much any speed. I mainly push it to 1600, but I have shot it at 3200 with great results.

I enjoy photographing anything that relates to Southern culture and history—landscapes, architecture and people. But my favorite subjects are always people. Trying to capture someone’s personality in a split second and then share that moment is a challenge that keeps me coming back.

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When I look into the faces of my portrait photos done on film, I see an added layer of depth, a layer that enhances and underscores what I’m trying to express.

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The point is I wasn’t going to stop shooting film. Instead, I decided to find a way to make it work for me. So I took a leap, gathered some partners, and we bought our own lab equipment and scanner. Kim Box, my partner in my photography company, came onboard, as did my shooting assistant, Asheley Willet, who is absolutely integral to the process. He has a degree in chemistry from the University of Alabama and is the technical guru who makes everything come out just right.

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The original intent was to just process our own film and let the equipment pay for itself. Once we started, we were really happy with the results and shared some shots on a Facebook film shooters’ group. “Who did your lab work?” kept popping up in response to our posts. When I told those asking that we did, they wanted us to process their film too. The light bulb turned on overhead, and I saw a void in the film-processing market just waiting to be filled.

To process the film, we use Kodak Flexicolor chemistry in our color processors and Duraflo RT in the BW machines. The chemistry has been consistent and very stable and we depend on it to deliver top notch negatives for our clients day in and day out. We figure why not use the best chemistry we can get.

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In response, in 2012, we created Indie Film Lab, and in less than a year, it has grown into one of the largest film-processing labs of its type in the world. We had some growing pains initially, but we’re moving full-steam ahead.

Indie Film Lab is more than a successful start-up company. It began as a business decision, but it has moved far beyond that for me. Now, it is my way to play a part in the film community and in the renaissance of film, and as a huge film fan, that’s just cool.

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Shooting film again has re-awakened my passion for photography, and I suspect it has done the same for many others who started in photography when digital was “king”. I love that now my company is a resource for other artists that shoot film and that we give them a great product. There aren’t many things that give me more satisfaction than doing what I love, on my terms, and being successful doing it.

So I guess the morals of my story if you’re looking for some, are: Don’t be afraid to walk through the doors life opens for you; if you’ve got a great idea, push to make it happen; and never underestimate the value of good partners.

Indie Film Labs road tripped to Vegas and WPPI the 2nd week in March, documenting their adventures with Kodak film. You can see the team’s journey on Instagram, Facebook and on Twitter @IndieFilmLab1

Click here to find more information on Indie Film Lab online.