Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Making Prints: then and now

31 years ago, when I was 27, I started the Campos Photography Center. My motivation was doing what I like to do. I love facilitating, problem solving, building, maintaining, fixing, and improving infrastructure. My goal was to design a system that would give image makers the tools and support to make prints just like they imagined. Today I have the same desire. It just feels a little clearer in my mind.

I love process.

In getting from here to there, some think of going from point A to point B, let’s do it, the direct line, as quickly as possible, as cheap as possible.

I like to think that from here to there is more like point A to point Z: there is a whole alphabet in the middle, and, even more, an infinite way to mix and rearrange that middle, so that even though we all end up at Z, the ways to get there can be so immensely different and pleasurable.

In 1979 the basic process of making a print involved the following steps:
  • a. click the shutter & expose the film
  • b. process the film
  • c. make proof prints
  • d. evaluate results
  • e. make a print

  • In 2010 the basic process of making a print involves the following steps:
  • a. click the shutter, evaluate results immediately and reshoot as necessary
  • b. enhance the image, as desired
  • c. make a print

  • Back then, each of these steps presented issues. The time from clicking the shutter to evaluating the results involved a time delay, which was at best a trip to the lab, plus a couple of hour wait. More typically, the delay was a couple of days. The option to reshoot was only a possibility in controlled studio situations. In most real life situations, the moment, place and time were long gone by the time you could evaluate your results. It was very difficult to enhance the film and/or the print, and you had very limited options.

    I saw each of these issues as an opportunity to improve the process for the photographer and build a business for myself and my team. Focusing on the issues that we could directly influence everyday, we made excellent film processing the cornerstone of our lab. We developed fast and economical methods to make proof prints to evaluate the image and we taught customers to do it for themselves.

    We also knew that if clicking the shutter and exposing the film was not done properly by the photographer every other step down the line would be compromised. We concentrated on creating a learning environment in our lab where photographers could teach each other the basics and, as their knowledge increased, they could work together learning new techniques to advance.

    We paid attention to teaching the basics and encouraged peer to peer learning for advanced evaluation. We explored basic and advanced ways to print exactly the image you imagined. We found that doing less is just as important as doing more. The key was in understanding what you wanted and using our tools and skills to execute your wishes properly. The greatest challenge was developing a vocabulary that we both clearly understood.

    We used basic techniques for print enhancements, like cropping, borders, dodging and burning, that greatly improved the image. We learned the power of enlarging an image past the point of self imposed artificial limitations. And we knew that the process was not complete until the print was ready for display and hanging on the wall.

    We enjoyed the process of developing our craft and moving towards mastery. And we greatly enjoyed being able to add value to our community of artists.

    Today it feels like we are starting again, but we are a little older, and hopefully, a little wiser. All of us are just scratching the surface with the possibilities of digital photography. In the first few years we are communally fascinated with the magic of being able to shoot an image, see the results immediately, and share that image with anybody and everybody, anywhere in the world for free.

    We have been crawling and we are fascinated with taking those first steps. I have been a father 4 times and I know how important and joyous it is to witness and celebrate those first steps, but eventually we move on. Photography version 1 (camera-> film negative -> proof print -> print) has had a wonderful 150+ year history. Photography version 2 (digital camera -> digital image -> digital display -> print) is in its infancy.

    With we have already started taking baby steps to help you image your imagination today. In digital photography you can now click the shutter and evaluate results immediately and reshoot as necessary. Our focus with this step is to facilitate the sharing of best practices and success stories through the “Who, What, Why” series featuring customers like you.

    Digital Photography has opened up a world of opportunities in image enhancement. We define ‘image enhancement’ as those changes you can make to your image file after you shoot the picture and before you order the print. We add value with this step by providing easy to use tools and services to facilitate simple actions you can take to greatly ensure that the print you get is the print you want.

    Our ‘Crop & Composition’ Tool is our newest, easiest and most powerful ‘image enhancement’ tool. It allows you to experiment and visualize in real time the effect of cropping decisions like “Smart Fit” or “Crop-to-Fill”. It allows you to try different size borders, to make your borders white, gray or black, to add strokes to your prints.

    With the ‘Crop & Composition’ Tool you can combine images in several, popular, pre-defined templates. You can position each image cropped exactly the way you want. You can experiment and see immediately the results and only place the print order when you are perfectly satisfied.

    You can see how your image fits in standard paper sizes, and also try the very popular panoramic sizes, in aspect ratios 1:2, 1:3 and 1:4. Best of all if you are confused by any or all of the choices I am writing about, you can simply try the ‘Crop & Composition’ Tool and see for yourself. (You’ll see a link to the ‘Crop & Composition’ on the “Place Order” page, right above the “Check All” button.)

    Finally we help you make your print. Our focus with this step is to maintain and enhance the use of materials and processes that ensure that the print we make is a faithful representation of the image in your mind. We do this by making sure our technology is state-of-the-art, by using the best papers available, and by maintaining and monitoring the process to ensure complete consistency from one order to the next. The more we are perfectly predictable, the more comfort we give you to be perfectly creative. We get great satisfaction from doing our job to enable you to do yours.

    We have also just begun
    to offer mounting and laminating options so that
    the print we make for you is
    ready for display.

    We continue to make improvements in the process. From your loyalty and your support it is clear that you continue to understand the power of working with a team that is intent on helping you get exactly what you want. Our belief in your work and in your integrity and professionalism allows us to stand behind our products and services with a 100% no fault, satisfaction guarantee. We trust you to be the best artist you can be. Thanks for giving us the opportunity and for trusting us with the process of imaging your imagination.

    As much as I have enjoyed the last 31 years, I feel like a kid, bubbling with excitement, anticipating the next 31.

    Thanks again,


    Friday, March 12, 2010

    Still Standing After All These Years – 25% Off Mounted Photographic Prints

    31 years ago, almost to the day, my dad (George Campos) opened Campos Photography Center - a darkroom rental lab for artists and photographers. His customers were people who wanted to have more control over their printing but didn't want to go to a custom lab, didn't have access to their own darkroom, or maybe didn't have the money to invest in creating their own facilities at home.

    Today, operating as, we're still basically doing the same thing that we were doing back when the Campos Photography Center first opened its doors. But now, instead of coming to our location to rent our darkrooms and print your work, you can do it all from the comfort of your home with a little help from a computer and the internet. That's why we call it "I print from home".

    As my Dad says, "Here we go again, a little older, a little wiser, helping you image your imagination, anytime, anywhere."

    In celebration of both our anniversary and our newly offered mounting services, we're running a 25% off sale on mounted Photographic Prints through April 2010.

    Not only are we still standing strong after all these years, but now that we're offering mounting services, your prints can too. Mounting your prints makes your images self-sufficient. It grants them the independence to stand on their own, to stand out, to look their best.

    For more information about our mounting services, please click here

    1. Place an order for mounted Photographic Prints at by midnight on Friday, April 30, 2010.
    2. IMMEDIATELY after placing your order, send us an e-mail (here) with "Still Standing Sale – 25% Off Mounted Photographic Prints" in the body of the e-mail.
    3. Once we receive your e-mail, we will adjust your order total to account for your 25% discount on mounted Photographic Prints.
    *Offer does not include shipping.
    **Discounted orders are not guaranteed to be completed within our standard turnaround times, but every effort will be made to do so.

    Monday, March 8, 2010

    What, How & Why: A Closer Look - Featuring Julia Finucane

    At, we work with artists and photographers from across the United States and Canada. We're inspired everyday by the images that they send to us and by the stories they share.

    In our "What, How & Why" interview series, we take a closer look at some of these fascinating people.

    We've asked each participating artist or photographer three simple questions:

    1. What do you do?
    2. How do you do it?
    3. Why do you use

    Please read on to find out more about Julia Finucane.

    Julia Finucane
    Fantasy Pop Artist
    New York, NY

    What do you do?
    I am an artist who loves the fantasy world, fairy tales, dreams, and lowbrow art. I paint whimsical big eye girls and little birdies that not only have a fantasy feel, but also a twist of pop culture added to them. When I am not painting, I am sewing my 'droopy heart' rag dolls which are one of a kind with their hand painted faces.

    How do you do it?
    I paint mainly in acrylics but like to experiment with different surfaces including wood, papers, masonite board, and canvas. I also paint on on fabric for my rag dolls. I paint in all different sizes from 24" x 36" inches to aceo cards which measure 2.5" x 3.5" inches. Before I start to paint, I research the subject matter and than sketch out my ideas completely before placing it on my surface and adding even more details. I then paint in layers to build up color and add my highlights at the end.

    Why do you use
    I first learned about from the Etsy forums and heard nothing but the best. They are also from my hometown of Buffalo, ny so that was an added bonus because I love supporting local businesses. I ordered prints from them and was impressed by the quality, bold colors, and crispness. The customer service is also of the highest. They answered every email I wrote to them answering every question. I would recommend them to any artist who wants prints of their artwork.

    Contact Information:
    Julia Finucane

    Thursday, March 4, 2010

    Here's to 4 more years!

    Hi. My name is Sara Campos. I started working at four years ago, on the first Monday in March 2006. As you'll find out when you read my story below, I love my job! Specifically, because I get to work with people like you. Thank you for doing what you do and giving us the opportunity to help you image your imagination. We know you've got plenty of choices out there, and we're so thankful that you choose to work with us.

    I've also enjoyed getting to know many of you on Twitter, Facebook and through our blog this last year. For those of you who I haven't met yet, stop on by and say hi or sign up as our fan on Facebook.

    Please read on to learn more about how I got started at and about our company values.

    Our Values
    As I've told you in previous posts, my father started this company 30 years ago. Although I've been hanging around this place my whole life, I never really knew the business intimately until a few years ago when I started working here full time. Before that, I ran through the dark rooms with my sister as a kid, raided the snack room, and visited my dad for lunch every now and then. That was really the extent of my involvement. I never imagined that I would be sitting here today as an employee of In fact, I really resisted getting into any kind of business at all. And I mean seriously resisted it.

    I majored in creative writing in college and wrote all kinds of essays about how materialistic I thought our society had become. I imagined how great it would have been if I was born back when most people lived on farms and actually saw the results of their labor in the fields, rather than in numbers on their bank statements.

    I went to college just north of the Adirondack State Park, went camping, climbed mountains and tried to figure out what I could do with my life that would be both fulfilling and pay my bills. My first job out of college was as an AmeriCorps volunteer doing trail maintenance in Maryland State Parks. I thought that was a pretty good start.

    After that was over, I came home for what I thought was just going to be six months or so. I asked my dad if I could have a job while I figured out my next step. He put me to work mounting slides and packing prints, and about six months later I found myself doing customer service.

    What was really surprising to me then - although looking back on it now I suppose I should have known that I would have all along - was that I really enjoyed my job.

    I really liked working at a desk for a business.

    I spent a lot of time thinking about that transformation, trying to understand why exactly I was (and am) so content. I came to realize that it has to do with the values that serve as the foundation for this business - the values that my father instilled in our company policies.

    Shortly after this realization, I asked my dad and my brother to have a little meeting with me. I sat them down and thanked them for the opportunity to work with such good people. I thanked them for the way that they treated me and my fellow employees. And I thanked them for the way that they had structured this business.

    I always imagined business to be all about money. And while it is to a certain extent, that's not what it feels like here.

    We aren't a retail store that stocks items that people purchase. And we don't really fit into what would be defined as the service industry like a custom print lab or a restaurant. We're more like partners with our customers. We help them create prints that they need to run their own businesses or etsy shops or to hang in galleries.
    That in itself, that partnership, really shapes the way we do business here at We see ourselves as having a working relationship with our customers. So instead of treating each order as an isolated commitment to produce a certain number of prints and collect a certain amount of money, we treat each order as an opportunity to build on that working relationship.

    We do that in a few ways. First, we do our best to produce excellent prints and slides. If there is something about the order that we think our customers might not be satisfied with (the image that they submitted may be low resolution or they may have accidentally requested that artwork be cropped), we actually contact the customer ahead of time to make them aware of the issue. Many times this results in orders being cancelled. You would think we would try to avoid that. But, more often than not, the customer places a new order later in the day from a new file and this time around we know that they'll be satisfied.

    If for some reason the customer still isn't satisfied, they are covered under our guarantee. We guarantee all of our work 100%, regardless of whose fault it is. This one makes my job particularly stress free. If a customer calls and they need something fixed, we fix it. That sounds pretty simple and straight forward and not really much to brag about, but that simplicity is exactly what's worth bragging about.

    We answer the phone when people call. We won't put you on hold or make you talk to a robot. If we don't answer because the lines are busy, leave a message and we'll call you back right away (usually within 30 mins). Then, once we're on the phone together, your problem should be solved within ten minutes.

    That's it - you call, we answer and your problem is dealt with.

    Our customers are really happy with the way that we treat them - and they tell us about it. It isn't uncommon that a customer will actually use the word "love" when they talk about how satisfied they are with their experiences with our company. Being on the receiving end of that is a pleasure. I'm actually smiling right now typing this, because it really does feel great to feel so appreciated by our customers.

    Also, we're not just working with your average, everyday consumer here. We're helping a special group of people; we work with artists.

    Artists are fascinating to work with.

    Artists are people who are headed down a path that is not easily defined. They are creating art, courageously standing behind their work and presenting it to the world. It's not an easy thing to do.

    These people, our customers, are coming to us because they need help realizing their dreams. And I don't mean to imply that we play a large role in that realization. The part we play is small, but important - important to the artist.

    Being a part of that, working to help someone along that winding path, is really fun. I mean, of course, there are bumps and dead ends and wrong turns that come in the form of an unexpected color reproduction or a print being damaged in shipping or a file issue. But because we treat our customers like our partners, because we actually help them negotiate their way through these issues, even the tough things are a breeze.

    So, I changed my mind. I decided to stick around and work for the man. That man, as we've already discussed, happens to be my dad. And, as it turns out, he's a pretty cool cat.

    Monday, March 1, 2010

    What, How & Why: A Closer Look - Featuring Lynn Cyr

    At, we work with artists and photographers from across the United States and Canada. We're inspired everyday by the images that they send to us and by the stories they share.

    In our "What, How & Why" interview series, we take a closer look at some of these fascinating people.

    We've asked each participating artist or photographer three simple questions:

    1. What do you do?
    2. How do you do it?
    3. Why do you use

    Please read on to find out more about Lynn Cyr.

    Lynn Cyr
    Oil & Watercolor Artist
    Fort Kent, ME

    What do you do?
    I'm mostly a self-taught artist, working primarily in Oil and Watercolor. I like to challenge myself by painting different subjects, whether it’s a portrait, still life, or landscape. But no matter the subject or medium, it’s no question that my work follows a consistent theme: color and simplicity.

    Although my online store is based in Fort Kent, ME, my working studio and gallery is situated on a peaceful lake in Quebec, on the border of New Brunswick and Maine. In addition to selling my work online, I also participate in art shows on a regular basis, because I love the human interaction between me and my collectors.

    How do you do it?
    Depending on the painting, I either paint from life or from my own photos and sketches, using various reference images to create my own composition. It could be a combination of colors and shadows I see reflected on a bowl of fruit, or the unique way I compose a design to make my simple subjects tell a story. I generally don’t confine myself to small details, and prefer to let loose and allow my work to have a realistic, yet painterly feel.

    Why do you use
    Why wouldn't I? :) Since opening my shop on Etsy, I thought it would be the perfect venue to sell Giclees of my original paintings. They're easy to ship, a fraction of the cost of my original pieces, and allows for more collectors to own one of my creations.

    I had three requirements: A) my Giclees had to be created professionally, not from my home printer; B) the quality had to be top-notch; C) it had to be from a company that was big enough to do the job well, yet small enough that I could just pick up the phone and talk to a real person. IPfH met all the criteria!! :) I couldn't be happier with their prints... they're so incredibly accurate in terms of color and texture, you'd swear they were originals. And the service I get there is just outstanding - really something you don't see often in businesses nowadays! I've highly recommend them numerous times to my artist friends!!

    Contact Information:
    Lynn Cyr