JACK PRAUL, 51, of Washington Square West, co-owns Philadelphia Photographics, a digital-imaging and film photo lab in Midtown Village that has served photographers, artists and businesses since 1990.
Q: How'd the biz start?
A: My life partner, James Hood, who's 67, started the business. I was part of the team that came aboard in 1990 and helped set up darkrooms, build equipment and buy used equipment. I worked part time from 1990 to 1995, and in 1995 I came to work full time. He retired three years ago, and the next logical step was for me to take over day-to-day operations.
Q: What's the biz do?
A: We process black/white and color film, even slide film, every day. A lot of times when we process film we are also digitizing it. We turn digital photos into prints, particularly large-format prints. We do slide collections that need to be scanned or digitalized into files; family or wedding albums that people want to preserve for their kids. These would be reproduction services, and mounting and framing.
Q: Your customers?
A: We have old-school people who love their film cameras. We have the pros who shoot film because they can't get the right angle or view with a digital camera. We have students taking photography courses and younger photographers who shoot street scenes and their images are amazing. I also do a fair amount of work for universities and large corporations who want copies of prints.
Q: What do services cost?
A: We sell anywhere from one 4x6 print for $1.35 to a 40x60 canvas wrap for $500 to $600. Our normal bill is about $40 to $75 for film services.
Q: What differentiates you from the competition?
A: Customer service, inviting the customer into the facility and working with them to achieve what they want. If you come to me and ask for a large-format print, I have three price points: a lower-grade paper, a medium-grade paper for a customer who wants a print on a wall for a family or dorm room, and fine-art paper for the art you want to hang over a mantel for 30 years.
Q: How big a business?
A: Our annual sales the last three years were $225,000 to $250,000. This year I'd like to see us hit $275,000 to $280,000.
A: Four plus myself. Three full time, two part time.
Q: What's next?
A: My focus for the next year is more work with a new website and more SEO work and creating a brand. Right now, we're creating our own content for the website and we expect to launch by April 1. We're also working on a Web-hosting service for fine-art photographers' images.