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Posts Tagged ‘Chris Oelker’

Kick Off 2019 at SPAC!

Thursday, November 29th, 2018



The School and Sports Photographers Annual Conference (SPAC) is held every year in late January. It’s the most important event you can attend whether you are a seasoned professional or just beginning your career in this exciting industry. You will experience an unsurpassed depth and breadth of knowledge at this conference and leave energized and full of new ideas.

It’s also a lot of fun! Not only will you have valuable networking opportunities, but you will also find mentors and make some life-long friends. Once you’ve been to SPAC, you’ll understand why professional photographers make attending a priority every year. There is quite simply nothing else like SPAC.

Take it from those in the know!

“SPAC has a little something for everyone. If you are a seasoned vet, you may not get that much out of the classes, BUT you will be doing yourself a disservice by not attending. In my previous life, as an Operations Manager for a high volume sports and school photography studio, I found fantastic value in networking and sitting down over dinner with other large studios. It’s so valuable to be able to pick up a small tip or a trick for an issue you’ve been dealing with that another studio has found a solution for, that you might not have considered.

And if you are just starting your career in volume photography or aren’t that big, SPAC is a must to attend. There’s the old adage about competing against those that are better than you; it applies to photography as well. The SPAC attendees are so willing to share their experiences. Learning from those that have already been there is invaluable.”

Matthew Scoggin
Future State Champion, Nations Photo Lab + Pounds Photo Lab

“SPAC is the only One-Stop-Shop for everything related to volume photography. Where else can you get great classes on the basics, as well as advanced techniques? Where else can you meet all the important vendors? SPAC is also the perfect place to pick the brains of others who have been where you are!”

Marion Hughes
Volume Photography Support, Pounds Photo Lab

“SPAC is the premier volume photography conference in the US, and now also abroad. In addition to the training offered by qualified mentor level industry insiders, it offers the unique ability to network and develop lasting relationships with peers, which contributes to personal and business growth. That is the most valuable asset in attending each year.”

Jim Giunta
Technical Support Supervisor, Pounds Photo Lab

“I think SPAC is the gold standard for a volume business, whether you are concentrating on sports, school or seniors. SPAC is a good place to get answers to questions you didn’t even know you had!”

Vickie Viera
Business Development, Pounds Photo Lab

“SPAC is the show of the year for the volume school, sports, and events photography industry. Whether you are old school or interested in what it is all about and how you can make more money, SPAC has it from A-Z. Meet other photographers just like you, learn about tried and true methods from masters of the trade, get inspired with some new ideas, get tips on how to get the contracts, and meet the vendors you need to be successful from shoot preparation to delivery.”

Chris Oelker
General Manager, Pounds Photo Lab

Start your year off with a plan to attend SPAC January 23rd-26th and let us hear how SPAC has helped you grow your business!


Future Outlook: Volume School Photography at Pounds

Monday, May 7th, 2018


What can volume photographers look forward to at Pounds? How can we help your business grow? What products are going to increase your profit margins, and what is new and exciting? How is the merger with Nations and the acquisition of MVP going to benefit photographers?

Let’s talk to the experts, Jon Weinstock, Executive Vice President of Nations Photo Lab, Chris Oelker, Pounds General Manager, and Matthew Scoggins, who we refer to as Future State Champion because he’s one of our most valuable players!

POUNDS: Tell us how the merger is benefitting photographers?

Chris: Pooling the experience and resources from the three organizations is allowing us to further develop and implement new ordering options that will better support volume photographers and provide them with solutions that meet the changing needs of their studio workflows and their customers.

JON: The merger with Nations and the acquisition of MVP means we have a lot more resources to help photographers grow their business or pick a new direction. If they want a new stream of income, for instance, we have experts that can guide them into school and sports photography. We encourage photographers to look into different streams and options for their business. Don’t just stay in your niche. Branch out, approach dance studios and martial arts studios!

POUNDS: Jon, what’s new that you find exciting?

JON: I’m excited about implementing PhotoLynx FLOW and offering all the tools that are available. Our customers are going to save time, be more efficient in the field, and during post-production.

POUNDS: Can you tell us a little more about PhotoLynx?

CHRIS: PhotoLynx services the volume school photography industry. They have stepped it up a notch with FLOW and provided an all-around solution for photographers to create and submit orders. Pounds can serve the photographers who have 400 schools, but also those that have 10-50 schools. That is where FLOW fits in. It’s a great service for the medium and smaller volume school photographer.

MATT: We are in the process of implementing FLOW by PhotoLynx. That program is the industry standard, and one of the most popular volume photography tools. It gives a photographer the tools they need to successfully photograph a school day, match the images to data, then turn-around and produce the exports that are needed for the school, and get the images online for the school. It’s the gold standard in the industry.

POUNDS: What is important for photographers coming into the volume photography market to understand about choosing the right lab?

CHRIS: The school market is really different from most markets. Volume photographers are tied into a lab for a school year, and their workflow is dependent on the workflow of the lab. It can throw a studio’s workflow off if a lab is not consistent. We pride ourselves on consistency.

POUNDS: What has changed in the way customers get their product?

CHRIS: Traditionally we offered a CD or DVD of the student’s images. Now computers don’t have CD drives in them. We started doing digital delivery a few years ago. Now companies like CaptureLife are taking it a step further. They are building an ordering platform and allowing for many more opportunities for the studios to increase profits. A text or email is sent with a link to the student’s image.

POUNDS: Tell us a little more about CaptureLife

MATT: So much is being driven by this digital delivery platform. CaptureLife is an app you download on Android and IOS. When the digital download fires off, you can follow the link. The goal is to keep that client within our ecosystem. They can click on it instantly, and order more prints. It’s about instant gratification. It’s important, and that process is going to be rewarded by more purchases.

POUNDS: What are some other services gaining momentum?

CHRIS: We are taking advantage of the increasing number of third-party vendors offering niche services for school photographers. MorePhotos, for instance, is offering image hosting and they offer a website service. They will build you a site with consumer ordering capability, so the studio’s customers can place an order. It will allow for distribution to additional family members.

POUNDS: What about new designs coming out?

CHRIS: We are always adding new, on trend designs for our volume customers. We recently expanded our picture day essentials offerings. We have created some themes that carry through on your envelopes, posters, flyers, and stickers so you have all the printed material you need for ordering and marketing on picture day!

POUNDS: What’s going on with Green Screen?

CHRIS: We are continuing to build out our green screen support and add different designs and products. We add new green screen backgrounds each season and have options for specialty designer prints.

POUNDS: What about new product development?

MATT: There is a company doing 3-D prints, that is in the early stages. It’s a neat product. Custom hashtags are being used. At a school dance, all the kids text that they are in a group of images. Now the photographer can trace it back to them.

POUNDS: So, what’s the bottom line for photographers?

MATT: The goal is to streamline the workload for photographers and to help them create additional revenue!

Exciting News!

Friday, February 2nd, 2018


There is a lot going on at Pounds and we have exciting news! We acquired MVP – Multi Visual Products in 2017 and we are integrating the company into Pounds. We are also expanding our product lines and creating dramatic new Sports Graphics. We know you have a lot of questions so, we turned to Chris Oelker for some answers!

What is MVP?
MVP is a premium full service process. It is a separate division of Pounds providing volume youth sports and group photographers a wide array of products to support their clients.

What should we be excited about?
A lot!

  • Pounds has added new dye sublimation products from MVP. You’ll see additional plaques, clipboards, travel mugs, and keychain shapes.

  • New Pounds graphics are now established in the MVP product offering for spring and soon we’ll be updating the website and improving user experience.

  • Graphic themes are available on prints and a wide product selection including custom cutout products.

  • Online job status tracking is available through the MVP Customer Care Center site.

  • We will be providing individually packaged shipping services to studio, league, coach and home.
  • ezreorder.com is an online reorder site available in the MVP service offering that allows parents to reorder.

Who will benefit from MVP?
It’s tailored to studios requiring services from order entry through individual ship to home packaging. It allows studios to focus on photo day, building their business, and leaving the backroom work to the lab.

Where is MVP located?
MVP customer support and order entry is based in Murrieta, CA and all production is completed in Dallas.

Can I use my Pounds account for MVP?
Customers will need to establish a unique account with MVP for billing and support purposes. MVP Customer Care Center is a comprehensive online service center exclusively for MVP customers.

Contact Lensie Korte to set up your MVP account today!
Email: lkorte@mvpcards.com
Phone: 800-293-9055

Imaging USA 2014: A Pounds Perspective

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

As the palm trees waved under the sunny skies of Phoenix in early January, Imaging USA kicked off another great event. This year over 7,600 people attended, there were more than 100 programs offered, Kenny Rogers received an Honorary Master of Photography degree and shared some of his favorite images and of course we were there! If you weren’t able to attend, here’s a little peek from Chris, Vickie and Carl!

Check out this Imaging USA 2014 Infographic link for some surprising information!

What was your overall impression about Imaging this year?

Chris: “Imaging was high energy this year. There was a constant flow of photographers at our booth until the very last minute of the show!”

Carl: “There were a lot more new photographers attending this year!”

Why do you think Imaging is an important trade show for photographers to attend?

Vickie: “Imaging creates an opportunity for novice and experienced photographers to connect, learn and grow through the information, classes and vendor offerings. Attending Imaging allows them access to help and information, from copyright questions to image capture. Networking and education play key roles in the growth of a photographer’s business.”

Chris: “Photographers of all genres meet, learn, exchange ideas, and grow together. The exposure to hundreds of vendors; from equipment dealers, software providers, frame and prop stores to pro labs and packaging resources provides a unique opportunity for photographers to visit and meet one-on-one and put their hands on the products!”

Carl: “Photographers attending Imaging USA trade show learn from other photographers. They’re able to see and touch the new products offered by various vendors and see demonstrations of new cameras and lenses. You just can’t do this online! Virtual Backgrounds introduced and demonstrated their new digital projection backgrounds which was a big success!”

What about a brand new photographer just opening up a studio, how would Imaging be helpful to them?

Vickie: “Networking, exposure to labs, products and professionals who have a profitable business model!”

Chris: “Imaging USA is the gateway to PPA. Joining PPA allows photographers access to valuable resources that include marketing, legal assistance and insurance services.”

What were the products Pounds offers that generated the most interest?

Carl: “The hot items in the Pounds booth this year were the customized USB Flash Drives and cases. We had samples on hand for the convention as Imaging happened prior to production. Photographers were excited to see them and get pricing. Our Press Books always get attention. People comment on the quality at every show.”

Chris:Metal Prints are still a big hit. The Contour Desktop Panels were a draw and as Carl mentioned, the customized USB Flash Drives and cases.”

Vickie: “Marion Hughes! He’s not a product but he was by far the biggest draw. No one knows school photography like Marion! We had a great deal of interest in Wavy Metal and cell phone cases as well.”

It’s never too early to start thinking about Imaging USA 2015 and being a member of PPA! Pencil in February 1-3, 2015 on your calendar right now then start polishing those boots to kick up your heels in Nashville!

Insider Insights: A Sneak Peek at Pounds with Chris Oelker

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

As Pounds celebrates our 35th year providing quality products and dedicated customer service, we thought we’d give you a little insight into our own Chris Oelker and a sneak peak at what’s coming up!

Chris hails from Minnesota so of course he’ s a big hockey fan. Although he’d rather figure out how a book is assembled and bound than relax and read it, he’s been known to kick back at the beach with his family and is seriously devoted to the television series Burn Notice. He’s been with the Pounds team for 15 years. When we asked him what his “official” title was, he replied with his usual dry and witty demeanor, “That depends on which day it is and who is looking for me!” Chris oversees product development and marketing, so this week he’s going with the title Director of Product Solutions & Integration.

POUNDS What do you enjoy most about working at Pounds?
CHRIS The dedication of our team and the pride they take in their work to make Pounds successful. Contributing to that is what really keeps me going. We have a great team here and that always makes for a better day. Every day brings different challenges and opportunities in a photo lab, it keeps you on your toes!

POUNDS How do you think Pounds differs from other labs?
CHRIS We offer a competitive portfolio of quality products and our customer service is top notch. We aren’t a monster lab and we aren’t small either. I like to think we’re “just right” and the photographers who partner with us know what I mean. Pounds Labs is More Than A  Print! We’re celebrating the 35th anniversary of Pounds Labs this year. Many of us have been around here for a while and we’re very much like a big family. There is a sense that we are personally vested in our business and we treat our customers like they are family. When they are successful, then we experience success. It’s a true partnership that is cultivated at Pounds.

POUNDS Photography is an ever-changing industry so what does Pounds do to stay on the cutting edge?
CHRIS Keep your arms and legs inside the ride at all times! We keep our eye on the technology and cultural trends and listen to what our customers want and need. Besides doing our own research, our vendors do a great job of providing us with guidance and supplying us with the tools and materials needed to provide innovative hot products.

POUNDS Have you seen the client base change over the years?
CHRIS Ten years ago in a film-dominated industry, our customer base was primarily regional. Now our base and potential customers exist wherever there is an Internet connection. With the onset of digital photography, there are a lot more players in the game. The accessibility of digital equipment has saturated the wedding and studio portrait market with photographers. We’ve gone from a traditionally male dominated market to 67% female base. Our customers in the 18-45-age range make up 65% of our customers.

POUNDS What is new in product development and how do you try to figure out the “next cool thing”?
CHRIS When it comes to developing new products, ultimately the photographer’s client is our target. It’s very important to listen to our photographers because they are on the front lines and know what is and isn’t going to sell. We have to offer them products that they can sell and that will appeal to their clients. Sometimes they’re trendy and sometimes they’re very traditional. We also offer products that help photographers market their business and that can be used as selling tools. We generally look at what we’re currently providing and determine a few things that we can enhance then we put those on the project list. However, most new products arise from customer and team member suggestions. Influences from other industries, media and technology all play a role. I’ve even been known to think of a few on my long car rides between Austin and Dallas each week! Often we’ll look at what we have on hand and twist and tweak it until we find we have something unique and desirable. W avy Metal is a good example of that. No one offers Wavy Metal except Pounds right now.

POUNDS There is a strong component of education at Pounds. Tell me how that developed and where you hope to see it go in the future.
CHRIS The big push for offering education stemmed from the need to educate customers about digital shooting.  Years ago, when customers first started sending us digital files, some of the output wasn’t looking too good.  At first we thought we were having internal equipment problems, some prints looked great and some looked horrendous.  We quickly realized that it was some of the new digital photographers who needed a little help.  Image sensors do not at all have the latitude of the two stops of forgiveness built into Kodak Portra film. Around 2003-2004 it seemed like we were holding workshops three or four times a week that basically covered how to custom white balance digital cameras, explained color space, and recommended image file sizes and naming conventions.  Those classes eventually evolved into more technical concepts and studio workflow.  As more people jumped into the digital photography business, there was a need for some business management instruction.  Now we support workshops that focus on photography, studio workflow, business management and marketing.  We also have online go-to-meeting sessions just about every day to help our customers become familiar with various products and processes offered at Pounds.  We plan to do more to take advantage of easily accessible social media outlets like YouTube and post short instructional and informational videos.

POUNDS Customer communication is another important feature at Pounds. Pounds stays in touch with customers via email, newsletter, social media. Do you think Pounds has been a leader in this area and where do you see customer communication going in the future ?
CHRIS Getting the word out about Pounds’ great products and services is an important part of our business. Our strategy is to go where the customers are. We do that pretty well and are very conscientious about not spamming our customers with pontifications. We want to engage photographers and provide relevant and timely information. Using Facebook and Twitter allows us to get information out there quickly for the people that follow us. So of course, people need to follow us! Our emails and newsletters are specifically geared toward our customers for our “big “announcements and promotions. The Tip of the Week in PROS and Snap targets our customers as 90% of incoming orders come through  these two software-ordering options. We’ll be pursuing more video that is easily accessed on mobile devices and of course we cannot rule out telepathy as the next big customer communications movement!

POUNDS Customer service is another strong component of the Pounds structure. Are there any new features in this area we can look forward to?
CHRIS Our customer service team knocks it out of the park every day. Darren, Erin, Vicky, Jim, Cheryl and Georgina, they rock! We really concentrate on keeping a personal touch in customer service. Call us if you ever have a question about our products or need a little guidance using our programs. Of course we can be reached via email and will respond just as quickly. Our service centers in the Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin labs are great resources for a little extra training and you can always get your hands on physical product if you are out and about and want to visit with one of our friendly reps. If you contact us on Facebook or Twitter, we’ll get you in touch with the best people to help you.

POUNDS What can you reveal about plans/products you are working on for the future?
CHRIS We have some imaged fine leather accessory products that are just about to launch and we’ll be coming out with some new ChromaLuxe™ metal options that are imaged metal panels floated on larger imaged metal panels in an assortment of composited positions. We’re also at work on improvements for our undergraduate school ordering, additional ordering user interfaces and some new press product options. Of course there is always something on the drawing board so keep an eye on your inbox, follow us on Facebook and Twitter and you’ll be the first to know!