DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Gone are the days when you’d find a one-hour photo on every street corner in North Texas.
But in the age of one-touch, instant photography, Deep Ellum’s Photographique is a survivor.
The family-owned business of Paul Black is keeping pace with the future of photography by reviving the past.
In a dark room, under amber lighting, the magic happens.
“That’s a silver gelatin print,” Paul Black explains. “This is the way they made photographs 100 years ago.”
It’s also the way the Black family has been making photographs for more than 35 years.
A job with Kodak brought Paul, a photographer, to Dallas. He opened is family business in 1982 and moved to the current Deep Ellum location in 2012.
Photographique is a photography lab located on Canton Street, specializing in film processing, print making, framing and photo restoration.
The business first grew during the heyday of analog photography. Paul remembers what changed the industry: first the popularity of the digital camera and then the camera phone.
“People were taking pictures with their phones, but they don’t print them. It collapsed in 2002, 2003, and film just went away,” he recalls.
The Black family is a family of artists, though, and they survived the technology change, in part through their expertise in photo restoration.
Some of their clients include the Dallas Mavericks and Neiman Marcus. Other clients shoot for the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. Some of the photos processed in the lab end up in the National Archives.
Paul’s daughter, Cassandra shows us original photographs — some 100 years old — suffering from damage and wear and tear.
“Fifteen years ago, you’d look at this and go, ‘Gosh, this is so damaged, I’m just going to throw it away’,” Cassandra says.
Through a meticulous, time consuming process, she uses a computer to edit and retouch images until they are as good as (if not better than) the originals. Restoring just one image can take weeks.
The new prints, side by side with the originals, are crisp, clear, and colorful (or the original black and white).
“We keep Kleenex at the counter. I’m not kidding,” says Paul, of the emotional reactions of some of his clients who come to pick up a finished print.
Like the comeback of vinyl records, what’s old in photography is new again. Paul says most of his clients today — for film processing and print making — are millennials.
“Ninety percent,” Paul says, adding that the interest young adults find in photography is surprising to him.
“It doesn’t matter who you are or what your family is like; how many pictures you have or don’t have. Somewhere there’s a photo that’s precious to you,” Cassandra says.
Technology can’t replace it, and trends won’t pass it by.
“I think that’s what it’s all about,” Paul says.
Photographique is one of the very few places in North Texas where amateur photographers can rent a dark room to develop black and white film. To learn more about the process and rates, click here.