This industry classification includes establishments primarily engaged in developing film, making photographic prints and enlargements, or retouching photographs for businesses or for the general public.
Photo Finishing Laboratories (except One-Hour)
One-Hour Photo Finishing
The photo finishing laboratories industry group includes establishments whose core business is developing and printing film (except for commercial motion picture film); duplicating, enlarging, or retouching photographs; developing and processing home movies; and providing transfer and other film photography services related to digital imaging, photo CD, and other forms of electronic photography. Many retail stores, discount stores, drugstores, supermarkets, camera stores, photography studios, and other businesses also offer commercial photofinishing services, whether through onsite (or "captive") labs or through commercial wholesale laboratories; such ancillary photofinishing services are the primary competition of the photofinishing laboratory businesses that fall within this category.
In the mid- and late-2000s, the shift to digital photo products and services of all types was a significant factor affecting the photofinishing laboratories industry. For example, in 2006, online print ordering grew 129 percent over 2005 levels, and 12 billion digital prints were made that year. This shift caused the industry to shrink and consolidate. In 2005, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 11,156 photofinishing laboratories employing 50,567 people. One year later, in 2006, there were 9,768 photofinishing laboratories, employing 46,883 people, according to Dun & Bradstreet.
Photographic services represented the largest sector within this industry category, which shared 46.6 percent of the market. Photofinish and photofinishing laboratories together represented 33 percent, followed by film processing and finishing laboratories, film developing and printing, photographic developing and retouching, and film developing services. California and New York dominated nearly 30 percent of the market in 2004.
Photofinishing laboratories featuring onsite mini-labs could be independent or affiliated with photofinishing chains, and physically autonomous or situated within larger businesses. Mini-lab systems, which consisted of compact automated photo-processing equipment, often required less than 1,000 square feet of floor space. Mini-lab outlets specialized in fast photofinishing (with photographs processed in as little as 30 minutes to an hour) and commanded relatively high photo-processing rates. Leading mini-lab chains included Moto Photo; CPI Photo Finish; Fox Photo 1-Hr Labs; and Fotomat Express.
Mail order laboratories, often with nationwide markets, generally provided amateur photographer customers with envelopes and instruction forms for mailing in photo-processing orders. They generally relied on repeat orders from established customer bases, often enclosing additional mailing envelopes for customer use when returning photo-processing orders. Some laboratories distributed mailing envelopes through camera stores or methods such as direct mail campaigns and newspaper inserts. "Prepaid" mailers were sold by some laboratories through outlets such as camera stores. Mail order laboratories generally offered the convenience of sending orders from anywhere to be received at any mailing address at relatively low prices. However, some were premium operations emphasizing customized services and rigorous quality control. Photo-processing through mail order laboratories generally took one to two weeks. Leading mail order laboratories included Clark Color Labs, Custom Quality Studio, Kodalux (formed by the merger of the former Kodak photofinishing laboratories and...