Monday, September 8, 2014

How photography can offset depression.

"When people are depressed, they tend to retreat from the world. Noticing things in the camera puts you in the present moment, makes you sensitive to context and perspective, and that’s the essence of engagement,"
~Ellen J. Langer, Professor of Psychology at Harvard University

Monday, December 24, 2012

Reinventing Our Business Model

Little did I know when I founded Bullock Professional in 1986 that I'd someday learn the value of marketing or how marketing advantages can grow a business brand through digital exposure.

Our lab had steadily grown over the years simply by word of mouth recommendations from the professional photographers who use us. Then "digital capture" came along and turned the industry upside down. In just a matter of a few years, the challenges traditional professional photographers incurred has in many cases caused their exit from the professional photography business model that we once knew..

Fortunately, opportunities come along as a result of the business challenges we all face. Our challenges' opportunities came about by finding people who appreciate the highest quality in a professionally printed photograph.

Just 18 months ago we launched our new prosumer lab - HD Photo Lab, to attract photo enthusiasts who were unaware of how a professional lab could take their photography to a higher level of quality.  As a result, HD Photo Lab has quickly become our fastest growing business model accounting for over 31% of our total sales last month. The growth of our prosumer business is 100% attributed to what we like to call 'Digital Marketing'.

Digital Marketing encompasses not just social media, but almost every interaction between people and the internet.  It's definitely not just about running ads that popup everywhere or running sales on Facebook.  It's more about developing what I like to call 'digital relationships' with people who are interested in what we're like and what our companies represent.

If I were to walk up to someones door and try to sell them something, most of us wouldn't even open the door.  However, anytime day or night, we can stir up a relevant conversation with terrific people across the internet to learn more about each other - what we like and what we don't.

As our good friend Carroll said to me once, "people buy from people they know".  Thanks to new digital relationships, we can now get to know many more special people and they can get to know us - even better.

All the best,

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Kodak's Next Golden Egg

Thanks to digital capture and social media marketing, the traditional business model known as the "Professional Studio of Photography" has gone through a major paradigm shift. For those traditional studio owners (and prolabs) who haven't moved into the modern photography space, their days are most likely numbered.

However, here's where the doors of opportunity open up. Since digital capture and processing have now matured, professional labs (aka "ProLabs") recognized the opportunity to take services into the computer of every photo enthusiast across the world.  Today's photographers are likely unaware of the higher quality printing products now available direct from traditional prolabs. Many of us have either opened up our prolab services to consumers and/or started newly named services that draw photo enthusiasts. Here's where Kodak's Golden Egg comes in.

Doors of opportunity
Eastman Kodak has a rich history of providing prolabs with Endura real photo papers, RA4 chemistry, premier color science, and software (DP2) that forms a cohesive production environment. Until now, Kodak may not have been in a position to lead prolabs into the new "Prosumer" lab space because of its prior commitment to its own Kodak Gallery lab services (recently sold to Shutterfly for $24 million).

Recently at Kodak's DP2 pro conference in Rochester, a strong group of prolab users from several countries indicated strong interest in new opportunities the Kodak professional group is innovating. Kodak is at its best when it takes what its people know best and shares that innovation with those of us who provide services directly to photographers. This consortium between Kodak and prolabs will no doubt enlarge the market share for Kodak professional products and software going forward as well as assist prolabs with chiseling away at non-Kodak photofinisher sales.

The Prosumer Lab Golden Egg
Kodak is and will be the backbone for the next generation of "Prosumer Labs" who create innovative, personalized services that prosumers desire now and in the future. By teaming with experienced, successful Prosumer labs and moving forward at lightning speed, there can be little doubt that Kodak is laying the groundwork for its new Golden Egg.

(Have a thought? Please share it.)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Kodak Comeback

Over 50,000 sq. ft of Kodak Endura Real Photo Paper
There's no doubt that many of us in the professional photography industry have followed with great concern, the recent negativity surrounding the Eastman Kodak Co.

On average I read 5-10 articles or blogs every day in an attempt to follow Kodak's progress in dealing with declining cash reserves and the their filing for bankruptcy protection.  (Chapter 11 does not mean a company is closing.)

Steve Jobs once said that Apple was only a few quarters away from bankruptcy in 1996.  Today it's the most valuable tech company on the planet, with more than $76 billion in the bank.

Unlike the majority of articles being written on Kodak, I'm focused on what we as an industry can do to make Kodak the great comeback story of 2012 and beyond.  

In late 2010, we decided to expand our horizons by taking our professional lab experience and expertise to the consumer photo lab market, both locally and nationally. The most important thing we've learned is that consumers are craving for the quality that a professional lab processes in "real photo paper".   Consumers aren't really sure why there are differences in professionally developed photographs and a big box, drug store - but they recognize it in their photographs and want more.  

I have to say that Kodak is the main reason for the quality that comes from professional labs around the world.  It's what sets us apart.  There's simply no one company who has such an interest in color management and true quality results than Kodak.  Bullock Professional was one of the first labs in the US to use Kodak DP2, which is the cornerstone of our operations, both for professional photographers and consumers.  

One large opportunity that Kodak Professional has, is to take the high standards of quality brought to prolabs via DP2 and Endura and build-in online ordering and marketing capabilities for both professionals and consumers.  Kodak's reputation for quality prints, is largely based upon the history enjoyed with pro labs and photographers over the years.  Kodak's experience with online ordering combined with DP2 would provide a powerhouse of opportunities that would perpetuate "professional quality" from photographers, labs, and Kodak.

Please feel free to share creative ideas on Kodak's comeback, but save the negativity for your spam folder.

Monday, September 19, 2011

25 years of being in North Carolina - I now understand.

North Carolina is one of the most populated (9,250,000) and geographically longest, in the old South. From Manteo in the east to Murphy in the west, North Carolina is 560 miles long, making it the longest state east of the Mississippi. (Measured east-west.) The Biltmore Estate has the largest privately owned home in the United States. The main house, modeled after a French chateau, has 250 rooms and more than 33,000 square feet of living space. Built between 1885 and 1898 by the George Vanderbilt family.

Before Jamestown Va.(1607) or Plymouth Mass.(1620) was even thought of, Fort Raleigh on Roanoke Island became the first English colony (given the impetus by Sir Walter Raleigh) in the new world in 1585. The first American born in the New World of Caucasian parentage and European heritage happened here on Roanoke Island at Fort Raleigh, which was a little girl named Virginia Dare. Dare County, in eastern NC was named in honor of her.

Pepsi Cola is ours, developed and first served in New Bern NC in 1898 and unless you've had one in a clear ten ounce glass bottle, with a slight crust of ice on top, you have missed a real treat. Try pouring about half a pack of salted peanuts into one sometime.

North Carolinians, native or adopted, say "ma'am and sir" and call their mothers "mama" and their fathers 'daddy". They know that 'y'all' is perfectly good English and never means just one person. 'Fixinto' is perfectly acceptable, too. 'Didjaeat' is an invitation to lunch or dinner (or supper as we like to call it and y'all can too ... if 'yountoo'). And if y'all don't like the way we talk, you can just jump back into your car and I-95, I-85, I-77, and I-40 will take you right back to where ever you may be from.

We have a Long history of developing some of the world's greatest athletes. We gave the world 'Sugar' Ray Leonard, Michael Jordan, David Thompson, Lou Hudson, Bobby Jones, Bob McAdoo, Walt Bellamy, Jim
'Catfish' Hunter, Gaylord Perry, Jim Beatty, Sonny Jurgenson, Roman Gabriel, Wray Carlton, Charlie 'Choo Choo' Justice, 'Meadow Lark' Lemon, Trot Nixon, Enos Slaughter, Richard Petty and Josh Hamiliton. If you don't know who these people are, you ought to find out before you go to bed tonight. Just Google'em.

The Golfing Hall of Fame is located in Pinehurst NC and the greatest and toughest golf courses in US golf are also found there. The NASCAR Hall of Fame is also newly located in Uptown (or downtown for non-native Charlotteans). The stock car Hall has some fantastic new digs for the recently State approved Sport of Stock Car Racing as North Carolina's favorite Sport. The first powered flight by the Wright brothers happened at Kitty Hawk, NC on the outer banks.

Fontana Dam is the tallest dam in the Eastern United States, at 480 feet high just SW of Asheville high in the mountains. On autumn Saturdays, every Fall, the Carolina blue faithful will gather in Chapel Hill for another rendition of 'What it was, was football' made famous by Andy Griffin while he was a student at UNC. NC State fans gather in Raleigh to see and hear the Wolfpack howl, while Duke and Wake Forest pull their
devilous and demon like shenanigans on the gridiron in Durham and Winston-Salem respectively. In the winter we play and follow College basketball, where between the three of them, UNC, NC State and Duke share 12 national NCAA Championships in the sport of Roundball.

The Highest mountain tops east of the Mississippi are found in western NC with Mt. Mitchell at 6,684' being the tallest among many more taller than any other state east of the Mississippi and if all were flattened NC
would be larger than Texas. Prior to prohibition NC was the nations largest wine producer and it is now rebuilding a huge wine industry with wineries from the NC coastal plain to the NC mountains. Here we come California! 

Yes, we are better than California with which we share everything geographically, except for Redwoods, deserts and fault lines. Thank Heaven. 

Charlotte with its more than a million and a half people (sometimes called Metrolina) is the leading banking city in the South and second only to New York in the entire US banking industry. In 1864 Sherman burned parts of Raleigh and North Carolina on his March to Richmond and Washington after waging his war of attrition in his infamous march to the sea through the deep south. We're called the " Tar Heel State " because our confederate troops during the Civil War were said to stick in a fight better than other southern troops by none other than Marse Robert E. Lee. The NC Rebel troops were a proud lot that proclaimed they "were the first at Bethel, the farthest north at Gettysburg and the last at Appomattox"! The last Southern Port closed by the North's blockade of the South's Seaports during the Civil War was Wilmington and Fort Fisher at the mouth of the Cape Fear River in 1865. The Battle of Bentonville NC, fought March 19-21, 1865, was the last full-scale action of the Civil War in which a Confederate army was able to mount a tactical offensive campaign against Gen. Sherman on his way through the Carolinas towards Richmond, Va..

We do produce the most tobacco and cigarettes, not to mention some of the best peanuts, pecans, and poultry found in this country. The High Point/Thomasville area is a US leader in the production of famous furniture and it hosts the Annual US Furniture Merchandise Mart. The best pork barbecue in the world comes from our Carolina pits. We are also the leading pork producer in the US. Yes, God intended for iced tea to be served "sweet." And yes, Grits are one of the major food groups. Mustard, Collard and Turnip Greens are too.

Elvis wasn't ours, but other singer/musicians were, Randy Travis, Ben E. King, George Hamilton IV, Crash Craddock, Thelonius Monk, Ronnie Milsap, Donna Fargo, Earl Scruggs, Don Gibson, Stonewall Jackson,
Doc Watson and Charlie Daniels are and So is author Thomas Wolf, who wrote 'Look Homeward Angel'. As of year 2011, add to the list Scotty McCreery. And I still miss Andy of Mayberry every day. Born in Smithfield, Ava Gardner may have been North Carolina's prettiest and most famous movie star.

Every North Carolinian and citizen of the USA needs to visit Salem, the sister city of Winston to see how colonial Moravians put their talent and work ethic to work building this early Carolina city into the treasure it is today. This work ethic turned an entire generation of Tar Heel people into the best employers and employee's in this great land developing a great textile, tobacco, seafood and furniture industry.

Because of our extensive coast line of over 300 miles, and even more extensive shore line of over 1,000 miles, Sea Oats, Pelicans, Shrimp boats, Shrimp and Oysters are held high in our thoughts as peculiarly ours even though many states also share these same attributes. In the seafood industry, a type of southern fried seafood served in southern Restaurants, is called Calabash Style and is named after the southeastern most NC village of Calabash.

NC has the most miles of paved roads of any state in the US. Proud, decent, honest and unpretentious people are our heritage that is reflected in our State Motto, Esse Quam Videri, which means To be rather than to Seem. And lastly, North Carolina ain't exactly heaven - but it will do until I (hopefully) get there.

(If you took the time to read this, I hope you'll take just another 30 seconds to comment or check your reaction to it below.  Thank you!)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Just One Wedding Picture.

Recently my Uncle in Indiana passed away on the day of his 93rd birthday.  While at the funeral home, my brother photographed a wall of photographs that a family member had put up in memory of Uncle Ernie.  One photograph instantly  jumped out at me from all the rest.  It was a sepia tone photograph of Uncle Ernie and Aunt Zelma that was taken on my grandparents Kentucky family farm the day they were married.  

Their one and only wedding day photograph showed Uncle Ernie in his newest suspenders, Aunt Zelma in her Sunday best, and their two mules with a mound of soy beans in the background. Most every time I visited with Uncle Ernie as I was growing up, he always wore a hat that was sort of tilted on the side of his head.  I had forgotten about the way he always wore that hat until I saw it again in their photograph.

Since I first saw it, I've often wondered... what if this had been taken with a cell phone or a digital camera and given to them on a CD or in a digital picture frame? 

Today, no one would have ever known it existed.  But thanks to a photographer who used real photo paper - the memory of my Uncle and Aunt will have a chance to live on for another 200 years or so.
Our mission at is to offer engaging and accurate responses to the growing questions now surrounding real photo paper and it's importance.  Rather than let the current generation become known as the 'generation without pictures', we will take each opportunity to prevent this dynamic from coming true.  Our explanations and responses as to why real photographs must be made, will insure the instant gratification of today's digital capture will continue to gratify each and every time someone touches that same moment - in a real photograph.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The man behind the lens.

Last week, I mentioned on Facebook the upcoming Bullock Professional 25th Anniversary's new approach for our photographers.  Among the many humbling comments was one from Joline Allen of St. Louis.  Back in the early 80's I managed Tom and Joline's professional lab where I learned so much about not only the professional lab industry but also much about professional studios.  (Tom and Joline also owned Tom Allen's studio in St. Louis as well.)  

When I read Joline's nice note, this picture that I've kept in my bedside stand all these years, immediately came to mind.  My thought wasn't about who was in the picture but about Tom Allen, the man behind the lens.

While on our annual trip to PMA in Las Vegas, Tom and I stopped by this local mall that had a "Bullock's" department store.  Tom whipped into the parking lot and said "we need your picture in front of this store."  

This photograph brought about so many fond memories of my time with Tom and Joline there in St. Louis, especially the great locals' restaurants and food that Tom would scout out wherever we went.  It also helped me think about the family type environment that Tom and Joline built both in their studios and at Color Crest.  Tom always believed that "family comes first" and he always lived that belief.

I'm not sure if there are blogs in heaven or not, but Tom if you're reading this - I just wanted to say thanks for capturing and printing this memory for me.   (If you'd taken this on a cellphone, it would have disappeared long ago.)


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Personality Remembered (from 1977)

My wife was looking through the hundreds of her Mom's photos a couple of weeks ago and ran across a photograph of Butch, our German Shepherd taken next to her Mom at our apartment in Kansas City back in 1977.
When she pulled this photo out of her Mom's album and showed it to me, my immediate reaction was how much it showed the personality of our dog.  It was just like Butch to jump up on the rail as if he were posing for his picture to be taken too.

Not only did this simple photo bring about memories of ole Butch, it brought about some warm memories of our apartment and friends in Kansas City from the 1970's who are still so important to me today.

Remember your life and those you cherish- print your photos now so they can be enjoyed for decades to come.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Remembering Life with Real Photo Prints

Blogging should be all about good, honest, and expressive conversation.  In my case, sharing my lifelong passion on The Art of Professional Photography and stirring some of your comments into conversations are my goals.  

Remembering life through real photo prints is of the utmost importance.  I'm going to do my best to prevent the current digital generation from becoming known as the "generation without pictures".

My next blog will be about how a simple picture that was printed in 1977 brought about a warm fuzzy by reminding us of a special personality.

Hope you'll stay tuned.