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Every fall, thousands of men, women, boys and girls take to the fields, courts and stadiums. On the sidelines, roam the photographers who capture the exciting victories and at times, the disappointing defeats. For those professional photographers, the professional lab partner plays a crucial role in their success. For film shooters, they need to know that the lab to which they hand their film will treat it with utmost care. Both film and digital shooters need a lab partner with the ability to deliver high quality, innovative output products to their customers — ranging from Moms and Dads of Little League teams to fans of the Pros clamoring for memorabilia almost immediately after the big victory.

Printmakers Inc., based in Rhode Island, has served the market for 21 years and has seen first hand how both economic and technological shifts have impacted their customers and how they serve consumers. While these shifts have been disruptive at times, Tony Rodrigues, founder and president of Printmakers, also sees opportunities in these shifts.

"The digitization of images has increased the uncertainty in our industry and has caused a disruption in how our business operates. However, the portability of images has changed the dynamics of what we can do," said Rodrigues. "It has given us the ability to do things with images that were not previously possible. Digital images have allowed us to deepen our product lines and broaden our business to include a variety of products and services."

One service that clients increasingly request is higher levels of customization. Printmakers has seen an increase in shorter runs but with more unique products, either from specialized graphics or differentiated product specifications. Rodrigues, who is a long time user of KODAK PROFESSIONAL Digital Print Production Software (DP2), more efficiently delivers products like composite prints, print materials incorporating a client's logo and photo books, through automation enabled by DP2.

"DP2 gives us a platform to easily change graphics and backgrounds using the integrated database functions," said Rodrigues. "Offering more choices to parents utilizing the same images in multiple product offerings allows for higher potential sale value."

That ability to offer a wider variety of products becomes even more crucial during tougher economic times. People re-evaluate how they allocate their income and shift their purchases of photographic products. Therefore, Rodrigues says, it's crucial for any lab to create a portfolio that provides relevant products consumers want using the images the photographer captured.

"The more scrutiny consumers give on what they are buying, the more effort we spend on developing products that will hold grab their attention and create more value for our customers – ranging from traditional photographic prints on KODAK PROFESSIONAL ENDURA Paper to new, exciting photo products," said Rodrigues. "We see a lot of opportunity in books and the new KODAK PROFESSIONAL ENDURA EP-D Paper; they serve as a great way to preserve memories in the context of other images. Every book tells a story; photo books are no different and their ability to convey meaning with powerful images is unlimited."

Providing one-stop shopping, combined with high quality and responsive service, is critical for Rodrigues and his team. Quality in his product and how his team develops relationships with all clients are key when working them, including the sports/school photography market. His team also understands the pressures under which their clients might find themselves, trying to please parents and administrators to continue to serve that school or league.

"Both professional and collegiate sports have significant regulation in how images and products can be sold," said Rodrigues. "Youth sports presents a host of different needs as the cost of products and the uniqueness of a product become significant in the order winning process."

Rodrigues acknowledges that while digitization has created opportunities, it has also created new challenges for his customers. He strives constantly to work with his clients to showcase the value of professional photography and professional output and work with them to present their work back to customers quickly and at the highest quality.

"One of the most rewarding moments we have is to work with our photographers to help them create more complete images," said Rodrigues. "It may involve bringing them onto our production floor or going to their studios to work on color management issues. Photographers at any level can benefit from working with Printmakers Inc., a pro lab that can give them individualized attention."

More about Printmakers, Inc.: www.printmakersinc.com... and on FACEBOOK.