December 04, 2003

Send Photos Via Web and California Shop Will Turn Them Into Prints, Cards

Another way of providing service to digital camera owners.

Send Photos Via Web and California Shop Will Turn Them Into Prints, Cards
Jump to first matched term

By Patrick Giblin, The Modesto Bee, Calif.

Dec. 4--For years, it has been common practice to drop off film shot on vacations or at special occasions for photo processing.

Then someone had to pick up those cherished photos, often waiting in line for an available clerk.

Chuck Smith and Becky Taber-Smith, owners of the 8-year-old Valley Custom Photo in Riverbank, have found a way to eliminate that hassle.

Digital photos, either taken with a camera or copied on a flatbed scanner, can be sent to their store via home computer. They turn those images into prints and mail them back.

The Riverbank couple also can transform the photos into custom Christmas cards and even mail them to relatives across the country -- whatever the customer wants.

"I had this idea for three years, but when I went to find the equipment to do it, it wasn't available," Smith said. "Our industry has been slow to adapt to the digital revolution."

Many businesses that process photos -- from Costco to The Camera Center -- will print directly from a memory chip taken from a digital camera. Smith took that one step further by using the Internet, and started offering the service last week.

"I have three kids and normally get my photos done at Costco, but it's hard to get three kids through the store, especially with a busy schedule," said Angela Hayes, a Modesto resident who was one of the first to use Smith's new service.

"Then you have to go back to the store and pick it up," she said. "This way, you never have to leave your house, and you can do it at all hours of the day or night."

She said she recently told some family members on vacation in Cancun, Mexico, to send their photos via the Internet to the Riverbank store from their hotel.

"Then when they get back, their photos will be ready and waiting," she said.

"Besides, with all the X-rays you have to go through (at airport security), you don't want to risk losing your photos."

After customers transmit their photos through the store's Web site (, they select a size and quantity. In the case of greeting cards, they also must pick the background and custom message. The Smiths charge 40 cents apiece for greeting cards and from 35 cents to $3.49 for prints, depending on the size. Payment is by credit card.

Smith will look at each requested photo and correct the color for best results, he said.

"This system also allows you to save all your photos in an online album," Smith said. "So if you upload your vacation pictures, you can tell grandma in Arizona to take a look, and she can pick the picture she wants and order it from us."

The photo album also allows additional greeting cards or prints to be ordered with a simple phone call or e-mail, Smith said.

For those who don't have Internet access, the Smiths have installed an in-store kiosk that can read multiple forms of digital camera memory. Smith also has a studio in the back and will take a family photo for custom cards.

He charges $1 per card for that service, he said.

"Every year we have people come in with photos on Christmas Eve asking us to turn them into last-minute greeting cards," Taber-Smith said.

"We couldn't do it in one day," she said. "Now, with the digital, we can turn it around in an hour."

Valley Custom Photo is at 2119 Patterson Road (Highway 108/120), Suite 11, Riverbank. For more information, call 869-8036 or visit


Posted by Craig at December 4, 2003 02:59 PM