Independent Photographic Supplies Pty Ltd turns 15 this year and is marking the anniversary by rebranding to its snappier name ‘iPhoto’ – which has always been the website URL, e-Mail address and registered business name, as well as the registered trade mark.
The new branding looks a little bit like this:
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, three out of every four small businesses fail within the first five years, so 15 years of successful trading in a challenging industry sector is a real feather in the cap of the iPhoto Australian and New Zealand team.
Independent Photo (iPhoto) initially started in 2003 by Stuart Holmes and Rob Voysey as a specialty chemistry supplier (CPAC Photo Chemistry), quickly moving to include AgX paper with associated minilab consumables. It is now a ‘one-stop shop’ for photo specialty retailers, pro labs and wholesale labs. From the start iPhoto had a focus on technical and QC Support, and that has continued to be a prime impetus of the business as it has evolved.
In the past few years this has expanded to include technical managers and factory-trained equipment service technicians, with managing director Stuart Holmes (pictured right) saying that this kind of support ‘is now a key part of who we are and what we offer’. iPhoto has sales partnerships with key supply partners like Dakis eComm. Systems, Kodak Alaris, ZBE Chromira and Epson Australia, furthering the brand promise of ‘the Best Brands in Imaging’. It gives back to the Industry via top tier sponsorships with the AIPP and the NZIPP.
So from being just an Independent consumables supplier with some QC tech support, iPhoto now offers the complete package including hardware, consumables, software, specialist lab integration and professional retail marketing support via the IPI International Marketing Group (https://www.iphoto.net.au/ipi.aspx).
‘iPhoto is particularly proud of what we have achieved in developing our own IPS Workflow and Order Manager Software, selling and supporting it on the world market with our partners Dakis eComm Systems from Montreal, Canada,’ Stuart added.
Over the last 15 years iPhoto has ‘strived to change, whilst remaining the same’ – constantly reinventing its product and service offering while remaining true to its initial axioms from 2003, being:
– Superior quality products;
– Better levels of service than previously experienced;
– Significant cost reductions, better value proposition.
A good example of this, noted iPhoto director Rob Voysey (pictured right) is the work the team has put into Epson Surelab technology. ‘They are certainly good printers, but a good product becomes a great product with connectivity and sound tech support – in this case IPS Lab Workflow Software.
‘We have taken these “bare” Surelab D700 and D3000 printers and made them into a modular, scaleable lab system more than able to not only compete with traditional wetlabs, but with digital press iGen (Xerox), Indigo (HP), and Dreamlabo (Canon) in the context of medium- to high-volume, high quality print output in many successful Australian schools and prolab businesses.’
It appears that no one else in world except this ‘little Aussie company’ based in Thornleigh NSW is successfully pairing two, four, eight (or more) Epson Surelab D3000 printers together to create high volume, high quality output, now becoming the Print Quality Output Standard that all other processes are being compared too!
And, it’s our own WFM software innovation that has made it viable. Our technical capabilities combined with the photographic resolution of the Epson drylab output are a winning combination.
iPhoto has also developed software solutions more suited to High Street photo retail operations. The iPhoto Job Downloader integrates with the Dakis Online ordering engine to automatically send jobs to any kind of printer – drylab, wetlab, wide format – even digital presses.
This evolution into the software and connectivity space was driven by the pursuit of best possible print quality. Stuart noted that the ubiquity of hi-res smartphone cameras & HD TV has moved the goalposts for photo specialty retail printing. Silver halide output simply doesn’t have the ability to match the colour gamut and resolution of the latest phone screens and HD TV monitors.
‘What we are producing now on Epson Surelabs matches HD smartphone screen output, while AgX now appears a bit of a muddy rendition compared to say an Apple Retina display.
‘In other words, the human eye is a great comparator!’
Stuart explained that iPhoto was on a ‘bit of a mission’ to ensure commercial and retail photo print output in Australia didn’t fall away to mere commodity quality as it would if labs transitioned from AgX to inferior thermal toner-based photo print output. He noted in the schools photography sector, parents have begun to push back against laminated toner-based prints. He said it was not only an issue of print quality but also reliability, machine redundancy, serviceability, and return on investment (ROI).
Iphoto has actually attracted a modest level of support from Austrade to assist in its software development efforts, and will once again be in the floor at Photokina 2018 in Germany showing its unique WFM Software. All in all, a lot has been achieved by ‘a couple of local blokes who had a good idea over 15 years ago’.