Jul 13, 2006

Digital craze shutters photo lab

Source: Pasadena Star News
Written by Cortney Fielding

PASADENA – The times they are a changin’ – and they’re about to put Joseph Umbro out of a job.

Aim, the full-service photography lab he manages, is closing its doors, unable to stay afloat in the digital age.

On Friday, Umbro and Aim’s five remaining employees took in the shop’s last orders, which included everything from a team shot of a 1924 New Mexico League baseball squad to artistic pictures of a bride and groom holding a pitchfork in front of an industrial water plant.

While developing proofs in the darkroom, Umbro hinted that he’s seen much more than baseball players in baggy uniforms over the years.

“We’ve gotten just about everything,” he said.

While outsiders might pay only passing notice to Aim’s closing, many photographers view its demise as the end of an era in Pasadena.

“Personally I think it’s a disaster,” said Laura Parker, a local artist and photography teacher who has frequented the lab for years. “It’s sort of a shock.”

Just 10 years ago, the photography scene in Pasadena and around the nation was much different. The city was still home to a vibrant selection of full-service photo labs, such as LeMac, Reeds and Colorland.

But as the popularity of computerized technology grew, many of their services started to become unprofitable, even a bit obsolete.

Digital photography allows a photographer, both amateur and professional, to process and print for themselves. Editing software like Photoshop even allows a do-it-yourselfer to touch up their photos, a trick previously done only in the professional realm.

Going out of business is a trend Umbro, a professional photographer who used to work for several fashion magazines, is all too familiar with.

He came to Aim last year after the lab he operated at Caltech shut down.

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