Thursday, November 24, 2011

Making Memories Matters!

Today is Thanksgiving and I feel many reasons to be thankful. Most of all, I am thankful for my family, my friends and the opportunity to continue to explore new ideas.

In the last year, I have had the opportunity to work with printers, photographers, labs and other imaging professionals throughout the United States and around the world. It has been a particularly difficult year in many of these communities. In addition to the ongoing economic challenges, it seems like floods, fires, tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes have been in the news more than ever before.

One of those tornadoes hit within a block of the Convertible Solutions and Inter-State Studio headquarters in Sedalia, Missouri. The power of nature is frightening, awe-inspiring and humbling. It is a power that shakes us to our core and focuses our attention on things that really mater; our families and our memories of time spent with our families. Making memories matters!

If making memories matters, so does preserving them.  Those of us who work in the imaging field have the honor and a sacred responsibility to make sure that every photo taken, every picture printed and every photo book published is treated as a work of fine art.

What are you thankful for today?

Image above ©Copyright nick macneill and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License.

The Creativity Paradox is sponsored in part by Convertible Solutions.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Creativity Meritocracy

We live in an age that is a creativity meritocracy.  If you have an innovative idea or a creative skill, it is easier than it ever has been to implement your idea and distribute the results through the web.

If you have a software concept that will enhance the way people spend their time, you can build on the communications infrastructure that is already in place, rely on the computer hardware that people are already carrying in their pockets and use an app store for distribution. A single individual can realistically compete with the development teams of large companies.

If you have a passion that you enjoy writing about, you can set up an attractive blog page in a few minutes and share your thoughts with the world. If your content is good, and you put some effort into letting people know it is there, you can build up a following of devoted readers.

If you write a great book, record a great song or film a great video, you no longer have to submit it the publishing companies and hope for the best. You can publish it yourself on Lulu, Blurb, iTunes or YouTube. If the work is good, it can develop a loyal following.

It is no longer possible for the editors and publishers and other gatekeepers to hold you back.

However, every other creator has the same opportunity. So your work needs to be very good to stand out.

What is your creative passion?

Photo at top by Hiro008 on Flickr

The Creativity Paradox is sponsored in part by Convertible Solutions.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

If it's Worth Doing, Do it for Others.

We offer a lot of services at the company where I work; school photography, yearbooks, specialty paper substrates, student planners, web fulfillment and now video production. This unusual diversity in services results from our belief that anything worth doing is worth doing for others.

To support marketing and manufacturing of our business units, we often find advantages to developing our own internal skills. People who work closely with our business units have a better understanding of our markets and customers than an outside service might and we feel we can react faster when we have skilled people and tools on-site.

When one of our groups does a project for an outside entity, they are exposed to challenges and requirements they might never experience within our walls. The experience and skills they develop on outside projects make them better at our internal projects as well. Sometimes these outside projects turn into significant profit centers in their own right.

Back in May, I shared a post explaining how our Convertible Solutions line of specialty printing substrates grew out of a process we developed for producing marketing fliers for our school photography sales. Our web fulfillment services also grew out of an expertise developed in supplying photo gifts to our studio customers and utilizes equipment originally installed for yearbook production.

Inter-State Video Production is our most recent group to begin offering their services independently. This group originally formed to produce training videos on Convertible Solutions binding equipment and photography training for our studio group.  As you can tell from the clips below, they do very nice work. 

What internal services could you improve by offering them to outside customers?  Could these become independent profit centers?

 The Creativity Paradox is sponsored in part by Convertible Solutions.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Quality Your Way

The latest issue of After Capture magazine contained two articles on the Newsbytes page with these headlines:

Simply Color Lab Introduces Simply Vivid Prints!

DxO FilmPack 3 Recreates Classic Film Look!

Simply Color Lab is an Akron, Ohio based photo lab that serves professional portrait labs. Because the article references inks, rather than dye layers, it is clearly promoting prints made on a digital press instead of silver halide photo paper.  Since this could be perceived as a lower quality service, I think it is brilliant to address the perception head on by pointing out the ability of the press to produce more saturated colors across a wider color gamut.

A few years ago, most professional portrait photographers would have turned up their nose at prints that were highly saturated. The very definition of professional quality was subtle and accurate color reproduction with soft muted colors. It appears the definition has changed. Or has it?

The DxO Filmpack 3 is also targeted to professional photographers and it promises to recreate the magic of dozens of black and white or color film stocks on digital images with one click. DxO is targeting photographers who long for the soft muted colors of the film age.

So which company understands color quality? 


There is no longer one agreed upon perception of professional color quality. Each company can provide high quality results by consistently producing the results its customers expect. Finding a customer group whose quality preferences differ from the norm is one of the best ways to identify a new business opportunity.

Does your definition of quality match your customer preferences? 

Are there customers with a different preference you could serve with an alternative offering?