Manny Parks: This machine will print pictures from a digital file. Before we have the digital file, then if it’s a from film, we have to develop and scan the film, then this is a kind of a larger size digital printer, printing on our true photograph paper and then use conventional photochemical. So the digital signal goes to this machine and expose on a photo paper. Then it run through a number of levels of a chemical tank, and it dries out. And then picture comes out. Like this.
[Sounds of photo printer]
Manny: My name is Manny Parks, owner of Pro Image Photo. The first location to open in 1996 here on the Upper West Side on Amsterdam Avenue.
[Ambient sounds of Pro Image store, Manny helping customers]
Customer 1: I come here frequently to develop photos from the disposable cameras and for whatever frames we have and everything. So it’s a memory. And then I know even the digital ones are the memories, but then, you know the digital one, you can’t just put it at your house it It adds values and you know, memories to your house when you enter your house in your living room, your bedroom or wherever you want to put. So you can see that like, you know, there’s always a different touch to actual photos, you know, you put it in the frame so so yeah, that’s why we print it always.
[Sounds of cash register and customers checking out]
Manny: Among so many important things in our life, such as health is a very important, so someone doing business, health care, or as a doctor or nurse or what other things they help. But unlike these people dealing with the difficult part of their important life, we happen to deal with mostly very, very happy part of their important part. People hardly hardly come to my place to print funeral pictures. Some some Yes. But I know almost everyone, almost everyone will take picture of a newborn baby. And many of the print is made here. So when I see that’s a 99 happy customer, extremely happy customers or at least, people from extremely happy moment. Newborn baby, wedding, birthday, you name it, travel all the things there’s only one sad customer. So, so this is our business and this is the nature of photography. People hardly take picture when they are terrible mood. People just looking for cam- where’s my camera? Where’s my phone, I want to take a picture of the scenery. So I didn’t start this business because of this, but I happen to be in the right sunny side of road [laughs].
[Manny on the phone talking to customer]: Why don’t you call the customer okay. My question was in the case of with contact you review the findings. Okay. So with one of our team members will call you. Yes, everything is okay. Everything is perfectly fine. And then when then you will tell all that you want to call me back though she will also see this. She’s a specialist. And we’ll take it from here. All right, thanks very much.
Customer 2: I’m picking up some pictures. They were just like iPhone pictures that I had printed. I’m an interior designer so I printed them for my client, because we’re making a family gallery wall for them.
Manny: My second stores opened 2000 year 2000. And then, so, around that time, I was talking to a number of real estate agent for a new location. I remember one guy said that typical New York, he meant Manhattan, scene is you walk down the street, and within two, if not three blocks, you will always see a few things: deli store, I think it’s bank at that time bank was expanding, I think, and drugstore. And, this two part is one hour photo store or photo developing store. He immediately asked me, there are so many, how can you, how can you compete with others? I’m not discouraging you. I want you to rent a new place. But there’s so many. That was in the 1990s. And then many of all those is all gone. In terms of one hour photos left? I don’t think there’s any, anyone I don’t know. I personally haven’t seen such certain facilities in New York or any other places. So pretty much all gone. But still people in fact, use more photo imaging today than before.
[Sounds of Pro Image, customers interacting]
Customer 3: With the disposable in particular, I feel like it captures the idea and the moment more so than posing and trying to take a picture specifically to show people it’s more about the memory, and the moment and you can’t really tell what it captures. So I think it’s more like authentic to what’s going on and less posed and so that’s why I like it.
Manny: Since I started, the store, probably stopped taking pictures [laughs] I was sick and tired of looking at the pictures [laughs].
Customer 4: Sometimes I think like these photos, when they’re on the internet, they’re theoretically not a material thing, they’re not worth it. But then when you print them up, and the resolution is great, and they’re all of a sudden a very valuable thing to me and to others you know what I mean?
Manny: The business started as a so called one hour photo business into the new type of service bureau handling multimedia stuff. If I see only traditional, conventional photo business, it can be what? 10% maybe 20%. It’s not sustainable portion.
Customer 5: I like to transfer what I have and you know, from my iPhone or whatever, to something that I you know, that I can look at in an album, especially if you come from an age where we’d never had digital photographs. So something that you’re just used to.
[Sounds of flipping through a photo album]
Manny: Almost every and all businesses in the world, well, evolves toward growth, changes in all different shapes and different destination. And the industry I started, photo finishing industry is not or was not an exception at all. It looked like it hit the bottom rock. It is climbing up again. It’s not very fast. But I’m glad instead of disa- it distinct itself, it actually gradually revive at very slow pace. Resurrection is driven by, believe it or not, not film lovers who are reaching senior age, but it is very, very young people. These young people rediscover it, unique the art or hobby or interest in the film that has been cherished to the world for a very long time. They rediscovered it.
Customer 6: The last time I was here I printed 800 [laughs]. And I come like every two weeks, like I’ll print today but I’ll come back in the next two days and I always tell them not to rush ‘cause I’m retired. I give away my photography, it’s a gift. My mother used to say, give it away. It’s a gift.
Manny: When there is a catastrophe, like a flooding to a wildfire to other things in which you unfortunately lost everything in a matter of an hour. Well, my insurance will pay I can build a new house and I can move different town. But the pictures, all my collection, all my kids and my parents, even two pictures of my grandparents. No more, gone. People care less all the rest. But when they lose such a small piece of a small stack of collection, they are very sad. So we know picture means a lot to us.