Reports about the demise of traditional film processes are greatly exaggerated, at least at Colortek of Boston, which has a healthy mix of digital and analog processes to serve a growing and dynamic client base.
Like most photo labs, Colortek of Boston transitioned to digital imaging and inkjet printing in the early ’90s. And like other labs, this watershed industry migration to digital and how each company handled the transition would determine long-term success or failure.
It was during this crucial time that Colortek of Boston decided to embrace the future without forgetting the past. The decision served the company well since local universities and their photography programs continued teaching the art of film for capture and processing.
“They still teach film and film processing at all the universities in the Boston area. Even MIT teaches a film class. It’s a unique art process that won’t go away, and it’s magical,” explains Jackie Anderson, Colortek of Boston’s owner. “Students need to go somewhere to process their film, so we offer student discounts and processing for 35mm, 2 1/4, 4×5 and 8×10 formats. We end up with good relationships with the students who then go out in the field and work at different places.”
The relationship between Colortek of Boston and the local universities acts as a feeder program of sorts. Former students often become loyal clients. Moreover, since Colortek is part of a shrinking group of companies with full processing capabilities, a dedicated legion of film enthusiasts from all over employ Colortek’s film processing services.
Even with this loyal band of film aficionados, inkjet printing reigns supreme at Colortek of Boston. Film processing usually ends up being inkjet-printed after it’s scanned and digitized. Plus, inkjet printing opened doors to other types of accounts, like museums, architects, lawyers and other more commercial accounts who need large reproductions of their work for displays and presentations.
This client base supplements the foundation of artists and photographers seeking consistent, quality output. “I’m beginning to see a lot more mixed media people because digital has become part of the process where I do a base print and they work on the print afterwards. For example, I have a client who gives me a file that I print it on Sunset Fibre Rag, then she draws on and manipulates the print and frames it,” says Anderson. “We have a loyal customer base; the people who are printing with me are coming back because they get what they see. We keep a close watch on our color calibration to make sure they’re doing what we see on-screen. A lot of people don’t have large printers at their home, business or studio, and they know they can get a quality print at the size they need.”
Colortek of Boston focuses almost exclusively on printing, preferring to farm out mounting and framing to local vendors. In order to satisfy an increasingly diverse client base Colortek of Boston relies on LexJet for a diversity of materials as well as expertise in finding and selecting inkjet materials for the project at hand.
“I just started using Sunset Fibre Rag and that’s become my favorite paper because it feels like the old fibre prints and it provides more shadow detail than a cotton rag paper,” explains Anderson. “We started our inkjet printing with Sunset Photo eSatin, and that’s our staple paper, but now I can offer canvas, metallic paper, banner materials and even wall graphics with Photo Tex. Someone came to me recently looking for freestanding banners for their coffee shop so I called Rob Finkel at LexJet for some direction. He recommended LexJet Water-Resistant Satin Cloth and they’re very happy with the end product.”
Anderson adds that having LexJet’s resources available means never having to say no. “Whenever someone comes to us with a project, we figure out how to get it done. We’re trying to offer unique products to meet the needs of anyone who comes to us for images.”