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article imagePikto brings human passion to digital photography

By Jack Derricourt     Sep 6, 2018 in Business
It’s easy to argue that photography is becoming less of a human story. Photography is more of a digital medium with every passing day.
As of June 2018, Instagram hit one billion users, indicating that the eyes of the world have turned to social media like never before to get their photography fix.
That social media wave of photography is changing the very nature of business for print studios. As discussed by Digital Imaging Reporter, a study from F/22 Consulting and Photo Imaging News reported that Americans took approximately 1.2 trillion images in 2016 — 85 percent of those coming from smartphones. Those pictures were translated to 176 million print orders as well as 8.2 billion printed units. The change in digital photo technology obviously hasn’t slowed the desire of customers for prints — whether they be wall art, photography books or personalized gifts.
Even AI is getting into the mix, with Google Photos automatically editing the photos we all capture and share on our smartphones.
However, within that increasingly digital world, the value of physical photographs, and the stories around them, remains powerful. The nature of our access to the Internet means a digitally shared image will always possess varying degrees of quality — depending on the format it is shared through and the technology being used to view the picture. A lack of permanence online also comes into play, depending on the shifting tide of technology and the still relatively untested ability to archive creative products online.
The book showroom at Pikto.
The book showroom at Pikto.
Digital Journal
Printing permanence
For André Souroujon, President and CEO of Pikto print studio in Toronto, the digital world of photography is entering a new phase of artful reproduction. The company’s website boldly states: “Printed images have never been more important.”
“Photography is all about making a moment last,” says Souroujon. “If you’re shooting on a digital camera, sure you stop the moment, but are you really making it last? My thought is that when you print something, you’re really making something that will last.
“That’s what I love about everything that we do here. We know that these products we send out are going to be around for generations, they’re going to be keepsakes. That’s what photography is about for me: preserving the moment, the emotion, the memory, as long as possible.”
The customers reaching out to print their work with Pikto have traditionally been professionals, purchasing high quality prints on paper, plexiglass, canvas, or in a photobook format. But with the democratic shift of photography technology, that has begun to change.
A Pikto team member working on one of the company s high quality photobooks.
A Pikto team member working on one of the company's high quality photobooks.
Digital Journal
“For us, the core has always been professional photographers,” says Souroujon. “But more and more, that line of who’s a professional has become blurred. As everybody has more access to the technology and is actively participating in photography, our customer base has changed dramatically. So now we have anything from people that are enthusiasts that during the weekend they do a lot of shooting, to people that photograph every single day on Instagram.”
Pikto is learning how to adapt to this change in the digital printing customer base, with a completely digital ordering process for customers and an active social media presence. They will also be revamping and upgrading their website in the coming months in order to make it even easier for customers to order from Pikto.
A Canadian alternative
Pikto is a unique business in the Canadian photography marketplace: a photo lab that carries out every part of the print process in-house. While U.S. competitors such as Blurb and Shutterfly have a strong foothold in Canada’s digital print market, Pikto’s commitment to quality throughout the entire printing process and the digital-first customer experience sets it apart from other Canadian photo labs.
“Our goal is to become the Canadian alternative, the lab of preference in Canada,” Souroujon says.
Working heavily in their favour, as a Canada-based printing business, Pikto can provide products to Canadian consumers faster, cheaper and at the highest quality.
Quality above all else
The company’s high-end products — such as their photobooks, metal and plexi-prints — have also attracted international attention, and Pikto has established a healthy following among U.S. photographers.
Pikto President and CEO André Souroujon speaks with Digital Journal about the changing world of dig...
Pikto President and CEO André Souroujon speaks with Digital Journal about the changing world of digital printing.
Digital Journal
The photo lab does seven ink printing on an HP Indigo machine, digital printing technology at its very best. Employees require special training to work the machine, but it’s worth the effort, says Souroujon: “It’s a cut above anything else available.”
The newest technology and the most cutting-edge training for staff is just part of Pikto’s efforts to remain competitive within the digital printing industry.
The most important offering for Pikto’s customers? The company’s hands-on approach. No matter how incredible the machines in the shop are, it’s the dedication of Pikto’s people that makes the difference
“It’s very difficult when you send something out to another supplier to know what kind of care a product is being made with,” says Souroujon. “You don’t have that control. There are some things that can be measured — you can tell a supplier ‘we need to meet these requirements’. But there are some things that can’t be measured and those are the things we specialize in: going beyond what you would normally expect.”
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