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These articles by Kathleen McGinn Spring were prepared for the January 29, 2003 edition of U.S.
1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Make the Most Of Digital Photos: Jim Lee
First came the shoe boxes. At home, closets and attics
filled up with dozens of them — all stuffed with photos. These
handy boxes became the photo-storage cabinets of choice at many a
small office too. The more sophisticated — both at home and in
small businesses — stashed mementos of family reunions or the
boss’s presentations in file cabinets, or perhaps in albums.
With the popularization of digital photography, computer folders have
replaced shoe boxes. A key difference is that the person who snaps
the family at play or the firm at work has been cut loose from the
restraints of film. Forget rolls of 24 or 36 pictures. It is now nothing
to take 100, 200, or more shots at a single event. The images are
easily uploaded to a computer. At that point, the similarity to the
shoe box comes back into focus. Just as few prints ever escape the
shoe box to lead a fuller life, so too are digital images most often
imprisoned on a hard drive, destined for quick oblivion.
It does not have to be so.
Jim Lee, co-owner of Image Arts, a digital photography, restoration,
and framing franchise located in the Princeton Shopping Center, offers
suggestions for organizing and showcasing digital photographs when
he speaks on "Digital Photography" on Tuesday, February 4,
at 6:30 p.m. at a free Tech Talk sponsored by the Princeton Library
on North Harrison Street. Call 609-924-9529.
"Now that you’ve got the picture, what do you do with it?"
That, says Lee, is the big question for the digital photographer,
who can now take thousands of pictures each year with great ease and
virtually no expense beyond the purchase of a camera. No longer do
amateur photographers, at home or at work, need — or want —
double prints of all of their pictures, as is the norm with photos
taken with film. "They want to do something special with the four
of five best photographs," he says.
A photographer and techie himself, Lee got into the business of helping
people make the most of their photographs — both digital and print
— after two decades in financial services. He graduated from St.
John’s University in 1983 with a degree in business administration
and went to work for Merrill Lynch, where he became a manager in private
After taking early retirement, he decided to go into business for
himself. He had wanted to be an entrepreneur since he was 18. "I
worked with a small business rebuilding auto electric parts,"
he recalls. That experience left him with a hankering for the life
of a business owner. In evaluating his options after leaving Merrill
Lynch, he decided upon a franchise because, without a retail background,
he thought the support would be important.
He also decided to start a business along with a partner. He and David
Chambers, also an executive in financial services, met at Merrill
Lynch. Chambers went on to work for other firms, but the two stayed
in touch, meeting for dinner once in a while to toss around business
ideas. Sharing a mutual interest in photography, they decided to go
together on an Image Arts franchise, and opened their store in August.
A great deal of Image Arts’ work in its first half-year of existence
has centered around traditional photo images. A current project, for
example, involves restoring and enlarging 60-year-old photos for an
historical society. Other projects involve framing, captioning, enlarging,
or enhancing print photos, everything from adding pixels to give a
4×6 photo a crisp look at 11×14 to transferring a photo to canvas
or watercolor paper. Even those who cling to print photos realize
the limitations of paper in preserving photos, and are asking Image
Arts to burn their pictures onto CDs. Slide collections are getting
the same treatment.
But while the bulk of his business still involves work with print
photos, Lee says he and his partner go on all of their company’s photo
shoots armed only with a digital camera. He guesses that the bulk
of his customers will have gone digital within three to five years.
Here are his suggestions for making the most of pictures shot with
provides sharp images at sizes up to 5×7 and "maybe 8×10, says
Lee. Jump up to four or more megapixels and 11×14 enlargements look
great. Prices have dropped drastically, both for the amateur and for
A full-featured four megapixel camera can now be had for well under
$500, the price for a 1.3 megapixel camera just two or three years
ago. There is now almost no shot that can not be captured as well
by a digital camera as by a camera using film. "Kodak just came
out with a 14 megapixel camera for $4,000," says Lee. He says
he and his partner paid the same amount for a 6 1/2 megapixel camera
just two-and-a-half years ago.
stranger from a picture or smoothing down a cowlick after the shutter
closed ranged from difficult and expensive to impossible. With digital,
ex-boyfriends and blemishes disappear with equal ease. Lee recommends
Adobe’s Photoshop Elements for working this magic. A less expensive
version of industry-standard Adobe Photoshop, it retails for about
$75 — "$50 with a coupon," says Lee, and does an excellent
the ability to snap away with no worries about the cost of buying
film or getting it developed. A problem is the way these no-cost images
mount up. Minnow them down, is Lee’s advice. Choose the best, fix
them up, and prepare to let them shine.
and websites that place images into albums. Apple has won widespread
kudos for its iPhoto program. Ofoto (www.ofoto.com), a Kodak website,
allows registered users to store as many albums as they want for no
charge. Lee points to Flipalbum (www.flipalbum.com) as a good software
package. Using Flipalbum, which sells 3-D album software for from
$25 to $140, photographers see their images displayed in a range of
sizes in a virtual album with turning pages.
Lee points out that this sharing method has limitations, largely because
most E-mail programs will not accept more than a couple of photo attachments
at a time. An easy alternative for amateurs is Ofoto and similar services,
which allow photographers to E-mail an invitation to friends to look
at albums online. For businesses, Lee says the way to go is an FTP
program, which provides easy upload and transfer of images to a printer
or a business partner. A program can be had for as little as $20,
says Lee, or can even be found on the Internet as shareware. Consumers
can use these programs, too, but Lee finds that most are not yet ready
for this level of sophistication.
languish. It is now possible to have a slide show in a frame. Digiphoto
frames can display the 10 — or 20 or 40 — best Grand Canyon
vacation photos on your desk. Driven by computer processors, these
cutting-edge devices can be programed to fade to a different photo
at intervals you designate, perhaps every five seconds or every 30
seconds. Still newcomers on the electronic gadget scene, they are
pricey, retailing for about $400.
A lower-tech way to display digital photographs is to have them enlarged
and framed, or put into albums, or made into collages or montages.
Much of this can be done at home, but for those who want a professional
job, Image Arts does all of this work, and even retains an artist
to add special touches to images transferred from cyberspace to canvas.
photo finishers to crank out millions of borderless 4×6 prints, photographers
increasingly "want someone to do good things with the photos they
cherish." Of his new business, he says, "that’s the bet we’ve
Homeless families at HomeFront need the basics this
year more than ever. In other years, toys and gifts, as well as special
holiday dinners, have been more than enough to create joy in the lives
of homeless families whose basic needs were being met.
Unfortunately, the year 2002 has been different. HomeFront
a non-profit volunteer organization serving homeless families in Mercer
County, has experienced several shortages of food. "The rising
need could never have been anticipated," says Connie Mercer, executive
director of the organization. "The demand on our food pantry in
just the month of November doubled since last year, from 406 food
bags to 822. December followed suit. We are seeing more desperate
families at our door than ever before."
Emergency shelter options have also been decreasing in Mercer County
just as the need has been increasing. With the closing of the Trent
Motel on Brunswick Avenue, families are sometimes put up in motel
rooms in Bordentown, far away from their jobs and schools. "Transportation
is a bigger issue from this location, another expense we didn’t have
last year," says Mercer, "especially since 85 percent of our
families have a full-time wage earner, and an average of two children.
Homelessness is not about derelicts anymore," she says. "It’s
a problem of the `working poor.’ And, even more importantly, it’s
a children’s issue."
Making a difference in the life of homeless family can be surprisingly
inexpensive. Organizations can pool their donations to make a bigger
impact, Mercer suggests.
She says that $6.24 buys a typical food bag when the Food Pantry purchases
items from food banks or wholesalers. That same bag of donated food
items, when purchased at grocery stores, costs $38.51. Forty-six dollars
provides one night of emergency shelter. Three hundred dollars pays
for one week of emergency family shelter. Fifteen hundred dollars
moves a family into a new home. (Includes security deposits, rent,
setting up utilities, etc.)
"This is not to say we aren’t extremely grateful for the toys
and gifts that bring smiles to the faces of our youngest clients children,
as well as their parents," says Mercer. "However, with the
start of the new year, we have to get back to basics again — emergency
food and shelter."
Send donations to HomeFront at 1880 Princeton Avenue, Lawrenceville,
08648. To donate or to volunteer, call 609-989-9417. For more information
go to the new website at www.homefrontnj.org.
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