The commercial printing business and photography have been on a collision course for years. In the amateur market, retail labs are busy adding print-for-pay services, commercial graphics, and signs. IPI has made this segment a major component of its The Print Refinery licensed business model, while FastSigns has picked up several notable franchisees among the traditional retail lab operators, like Sharp Photo and Portrait in Eau Claire, Wis. Even online amateur market leader Shutterfly has recognized this by adding a commercial printing segment to its business plan. And, in the other direction, West Michigan pro lab Photo EVO Pro (formerly known as Allied Photographic) has added two successful retail stores to serve consumers.
It just makes sense, then, that a pro lab would begin offering commercial graphics projects to photographers, which is exactly what American Color Imaging (ACI) in Cedar Falls, Iowa, has done. About two years ago, ACI has established Imagebuggy as division focusing exclusively on white-label commercial services for professional photographers.
The idea is simple: As commercial photographers work with clients, they may discover graphic needs using their images, says Len Searfoss, commercial print manager, Imagebuggy.
“There’s nothing we can’t print; everything from basic marketing materials, business cards, and envelopes, all the way up to indoor signage, outdoor signage, floor graphics, and window graphics,” says Searfoss. “We’ve been building our photographer clientele to use us for print products. Our expertise is helping photographers sell new products; it’s a completely new market.
“Photographers are leaving money on the table not offering commercial graphics,” he adds, citing an example of a photographer who sold 110 pole banners to university. “Photographers need to understand if they are shooting in a commercial setting, they can parlay their photography into other products.”
Custom graphics, like those shown below, may be range from pure photographic products like large gallery wraps or wall murals all the way to vehicle graphics. And because it’s a white-label service, the photographer maintains the relationship with the client.
Imagebuggy presented the concept at Imaging USA earlier this year, and Searfoss says the reception was warm: “Photographers were really amazed. This can really supplement their income.” He also contends, if a photographer understands product outsourcing, they can develop relationships with freelance designers to expand their client base by offering these products.