The 2020 Find A Photographer awards program is not just about determining the best photographers in the country. It is also a time for industry suppliers to the professional photography industry to be recognised! In late November 2020, Melbourne based print lab Print 2 Metal were the national winner! Congratulations! We hope you love reading about their journey.
The Print 2 Metal Story
With the increasing change to digital technology and declining sales in film processing and printing around 20 years ago, the photographic industry changed worldwide forever. Most local photo labs have sadly closed their doors.
It was faced with this predictable fate that husband and wife team, Frank Hoekstra and Marie Cosgrave knew they must look to use those skills they had honed over 20 years of operating a photo lab in Prahran and try to re-create themselves.
Via the internet Marie found a small business in the USA that had taken what they had learnt in the trophy & awards industry and started to print images on metal.
So after a brief visit to San Francisco in early 2010 they brought home enough knowledge to get Print 2 Metal started.
The technique of printing images onto sleek thin sheets of aluminium, that didn’t require glass or a heavy frame, that were so vibrant, lightweight and could be easily cleaned still leaves the first time viewer saying “wow”.
Seeing this response from their customers in the photo lab made the decision fairly easy to sell that business in 2011 and concentrate on metal printing only.
Here’s Marie’s recount of their journey:
We operated out of our backyard purpose built shed up until August 2014. I remember a supplier once asking “you don’t really live here ?” as he walked through the house & all our supplies to the kitchen table where we held our meeting.
With the changes that digital has brought there is still a desire for young and old to surround themselves with photographic momentos and artwork. New and different ways of doing this is what inspires them.
We are now not only a part of the photographic industry. Printing onto metal has also captured the attention of those in the design & architectural fields. We have been able to step into markets that we had never considered as photo lab owners.
The concept is still new and fairly unknown to consumers. Educating the public about this new print technology has been our biggest challenge. We have excellent repeat business after a client’s first purchase from us.
The successful process of dye sublimation printing onto metal has now started to bring about new suppliers of the materials we use. We use only Chromaluxe metal panels the world’s leading brand of metal print media. It has changed for many the belief that the print is dead. Our business has a great future.
Print 2 Metal has increasingly gained the attention of professional photographers and keen amateurs, designers, artists and interior designers.
In our continuing effort to differentiate our product we have taken a number of initiatives…….
We have designed & produced our own framing in a black, silver and white anodised aluminium.
Frank Hoekstra has gone back to school over the past 3 years and completed his Certificate IV in Engineering with an emphasis on welding. This has really helped extend the creative options to clients and address the challenges of working with aluminium.
These variations are attracting more photographers and artists who exhibit and sell their work through galleries and has won them awards.
What They Offer
Print 2 Metal specialises in helping photographers at all levels to showcase their work in a lasting and exciting way.
We create impressive high definition, true colour prints, possible only by our unique metal printing process and have a range of display and frame options available.
What They Love
The challenge and excitement of printing beautiful images on metal, that bring joy to our clients and in many cases helps them sell their work at the high end level is a great work space to be in.
After more than 30 years in the printing industry we are still learning and as software and printers improve we can continue to motivate and inspire our much valued staff to give of their best and help grow the business.
The Reaction When They Won
When I became aware of the awards I emailed clients who had sent us unsolicited emails expressing their delight with their metal print orders and asked for a review.
I certainly didn’t expect that most would respond nor did I anticipate the openness and generous spirit with which they shared their experience with us. Whilst judgement from those respected in the industry is really valued, the feedback from clients on your day to day performance is the true indicator that you are delivering a quality product and service and all your efforts are worthwhile.
What Motivated Them To Enter
As the owner of Print 2 Metal I know what goes on behind the scenes. It can be a very challenging printing process and we really give each print the same attention we would give if printing our own work. Knowing this and the positive feedback we regularly receive I felt the category of “Vendor of the Year” was new and exciting and something we could win and would be very proud to win..
A “win” amongst our small team is really uplifting and recognition of their dedication to print their best. A “win” is also a great opportunity for clients to feel that they can expect the very best product and service.
The same as our goals for 2020 which we never had the chance to do !! LOL !!
We are looking to offer even bigger print sizes than 40×60″ and some more display options.
We’ve started to offer smaller products like coasters and placemats that are made using our existing printing process of dye sublimation.
We love to work closely with photographers offering them a range of benefits including trade pricing.