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Meet Jim Giunta: Head of Technical Support

Thursday, September 13th, 2018

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According to Dictionary.com a Renaissance Man is “a present-day man who has acquired profound knowledge or proficiency in more than one field.”

That completely defines our own Jim Giunta, Head of Pounds Technical Support. He’s been there and done that. Whether it’s skydiving, scuba diving, flying single-engine planes, shooting competitively, or working on his Harley, he’s all action, all the time. He’s also been a professional magician, which may explain how he makes so much happen here at Pounds!

Jim’s background includes a wide skill set. He worked in photography, missile electronics, and computers during time spent in the military. Then he expanded his knowledge base into video and broadcast journalism. When he was on the East Coast, he was in on the cutting-edge development of green screen technology and capture software.

He’s really done it all.

POUNDS: Tell us a little bit about your background.

JIM: I grew up in Rochester, New York, with seven siblings, one of which is my identical twin. Two of my brothers are magicians. My oldest brother was an electrician, a photographer, and a magician. I got interested in magic and photography through him. That’s how I put myself through college the first time, working as a photographer for schools during the week, weddings on the weekends, and supplementing that with magician gigs.

POUNDS: How long have you been in the photography business?

JIM: I’ve been in the business since 1972 when I was a military photographer. My first hitch was in Frankfurt. I was sent all over Europe because I had a security clearance. The majority of the work I did was classified. When I got out of the service, in Rochester, I worked in still and video, went back to school, and got another degree in broadcast journalism. Then I went back to the military and worked in electronics and computers specifically on the Pershing II ballistic missile.

POUNDS: How did your military career help you in your present job?

JIM: When I got out in ‘90, I had both camera and computer backgrounds. Everything was turning to digital, so it was perfect timing.

POUNDS: How did Pounds find you?

JIM: When I got to my first lab job at PCA, a guy working for them was trying to develop a department for specialty school and events and using green screen on-site. He hired me for the digital division. I stayed, he left. When they got bought out, he was involved in Pounds with a franchise operation and told them about me. He recommended me, and I got hired ‘07.

POUNDS: Tell us a bit about what you do for customers.

JIM: Support for volume photographers is more of a one-on-one service. They have a personal relationship with our people. We’re on call 24/7. We provide a more specialized and customized workflow for their specific business. We find out what type of business model they have, and assess skills, equipment, and resources. If necessary, we suggest equipment, marketing, or business support. We support them when they are up and running or if they are just beginning their volume careers. I also provide the support for customers that want websites and teach them how to use and maintain them.

POUNDS: What’s new and coming up?

JIM: We are expanding the customer support team, and we’re doing a lot of technical development this year. We will be enhancing our customer order submission softwares to give studios more control of the process. We’ll have the full capability of the PhotoLynx suite of software, and the website is offering direct fulfillment now.

POUNDS: What do customers tell you about their experience with Pounds?

JIM: The two points that come up time and time again are the quality of the product and the level of our support because it is one-on-one.

Meet Carolyn Taylor: Supervisor School Division + Order Entry

Thursday, September 13th, 2018

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Once Pounds hired Carolyn Taylor, we just would not let her go. When we bought another lab, a lot of us will tell you it was so we could hang on to her! She has done almost every job at Pounds and now holds the title Supervisor School Division / Order Entry. She also oversees the retouching department and Xerox printing. In other words, she’s still doing it all. It’s primarily due to Carolyn that the Pounds ship sails so smoothly every day!

POUNDS: How did you get started in the industry?

CAROLYN: I started working in the photography industry at Gittings Studios in the early to mid-80s. I was in the production department, and my responsibilities included filing negatives, wedding album and frame assembly, and portrait packaging. This was an awesome experience. The portraits assembled and packaged for presentation to clients were simple, a work of art! In 1987 the company was acquired by Paul Skipworth and became Gittings-Skipworth. I continued working a few years, then decided to apply for employment at Pounds as this was the lab that produced the work for Gittings and Gittings-Skipworth.

POUNDS: It sounds like you were destined to be with Pounds!

CAROLYN: I started working for Pounds in February of 1991. I was hired to work in the proofing department but was quickly moved to “cut neg” to operate the v7 and vp2 film printers. Printing on the v7 was my main job, but I filled in on the vp2 as needed. Back in those days, we kept a daily count of how many exposures the printer made. I hit the all-time high count on the v7. I don’t remember the count or the date that was, but it was a big deal then! In January of 1996, I was hired to work at Meisel.

That didn’t last long because Pounds acquired Meisel seven months later and I have worked here ever since, in almost every department except mounting and shipping. I was in on the ground floor when the transition from negatives to digital took place. My first thought was that we (Pounds) had lost our minds but look at us now!

POUNDS: Tell us a little bit about your family.

CAROLYN: I am a married mother of two children, a boy, and a girl and now grandmother to four beautiful grandchildren, two boys, and two girls. My oldest grandson lives with us and has brought much love and joy to our home. Our household has a huge heart for animals. We currently have two dogs and a cat, but we’ve had as many as five dogs at one time! My grandson enjoys school, school activities, and sports. If I leave work at a reasonable hour, it’s because I’m attending a basketball or football game! But don’t worry! I will always show up early the next day if necessary, to catch up on any of our customer’s work that may require my attention.

POUNDS: What’s new at Pounds?

CAROLYN: Our school division has grown by leaps and bounds since it first started. Today we have more than tripled our number of school customers and provide services to many studios across the United States. As always, we are looking to grow even more in this area. This year we have put into place new work-flows and processes to make the school experience here at Pounds more efficient, sustainable and pleasant for our customers.

POUNDS: What do you enjoy most about working with Pounds?

CAROLYN: I have always enjoyed the challenge of working at Pounds. Things are ever-changing, so there is no time to be bored. We are continuously improving and adding new processes and products to accommodate our customers’ needs. Each day is a new and different experience. There is always something to learn. If it can’t currently be done, our challenge is to figure out how it can be done and do it. We have moved many mountains over the years.

We are up to the challenge, so bring it on!

Inside Volume Photography with Vickie Viera

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018

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Pounds is the leading resource for volume sports photographers, and a major reason for that is Vickie Viera. We sat down with her recently to gain some insight into how Pounds and Vickie are the best assets a volume photographer can have. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or have just begun your career in this lucrative and fulfilling industry, Pounds is your partner.

Pounds: What products have been added for sports photographers?

Vickie: We’ve added more graphics and more products targeted at increasing customer sales. We have increased what you can offer as add-ons to drive sales. For instance, our keychains are immensely popular. We have more than tripled the number of keychains we carry and added more sublimation products.

Pounds: Why are add-ons so important in volume photography?

Vickie: Add-ons are one of the things I emphasize most to photographers. The point of an add-on is to drive sales to your profit packages. Leagues look for photographers that offer a lot of fun products. So, if you want to sign a league, you have to remember they need items not just for team parents, but also for sponsors. We have increased our line of add-ons to fulfill those needs.

Pounds: Do you have advice for new sports photographers trying to figure out how to build packages?

Vickie: Yes! Come and see me! I have seen a 30% profit in one season. It has to do with how you build those packages and what you offer. For instance, when you create three packages, one is high, one is low, and one is right in the middle. That middle package has the right mix of cost and product. That is where your add-ons can be beneficial. How? By adding interest and value to your order form.

Pounds: How does the Pounds ordering system benefit volume photographers?

Vickie: Records is an industry standard for volume sports. It’s a fast and easy way to get everything ordered with the added advantage of having data that makes your clients’ sales trackable.

Pounds: What can volume sports photographers do to create an edge in today’s market?

Vickie: Well, consult with me of course! But, also attend conferences and trade shows like SPAC and SYNC. I consider SPAC the gold standard of training. They focus specifically towards the business client and offer classes from people that run very successful studios. You’ll learn the marketing piece, how to target, how to sell, and how to make your studio more efficient. And you’ll network! That’s extremely important. We have quite a few people in Texas who began as competitors, became friends, shared information, and became the leaders in entire markets. You will learn how to increase your business and how to turn what you spent going to SPAC into a profit!

Pounds: How does SYNC differ from SPAC?

Vickie: SYNC is about more of what to do once your business is running. It’s a smaller conference, and the focus is solely on sports and the challenges related to sports. For instance, banners are a huge thing in sports. Everyone has to have one. How do you sell that banner? Do you give it away free, how do you wrap that cost into your charges? You’ll learn that at SYNC.

Pounds: What puts Pounds above every other lab out there when it comes to serving the needs of volume photographers?

Vickie: People. Marion, Darren, Tracy, Chris— we all offer personal attention and true partnership with our clients. When you need something, you can call. We will make a difference, and we will increase your business. Partnership is the Pounds difference.

Be sure to visit with Vickie at SYNC 2018! REGISTER TODAY

Print What You Want to Preserve

Monday, September 15th, 2014

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Guest blog by Missy MWAC
#whyweprint

[The discussion recently arose on my Facebook wall about giving clients digital files because that’s “what they want,” and I’m glad it did, because it’s an important discussion to have. This is my response to the “digital only” conversation. Warning: I took it waaaay down. So far down, that I became exhausted and had to watch SNL reruns on Netflix to counter the effects...]

I may be out of touch, it’s true. And while I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, I really do try to stay on top of what is trending and what is about to trend. It’s kind of my thing.

As you recall, back in the days o’ film, the phone would ring and the caller would ask that question that made many a photographers’ eyes roll: “How much is an 8×10?” If I had a dime for every time, right? And, we knew…just knew… that what they were asking was not really the price of an 8×10 (although I’m sure there was a percentage for whom that was ALL they wanted to know.)

No, they asked “How much is an 8×10?” because it’s all they knew to ask. They wanted to know price, sure, but what that question really meant was:

“Why should I pick YOU?”
“Am I going to love these?” “What if I don’t?”
“Are you right for me?”
“If I pick you, will I be happy with my choice.”
“Tell me why YOU are the right photographer for me.”

Of course, they didn’t come out and say that. Instead, they asked, “How much is an 8×10?”

Now, that question could be answered according to the “what clients want” theory: they WANT the price of an 8×10, so give it to them and be done with the phone call.

Or…we could dig deeper to find out what they REALLY want.

Fast forward to now and the digital age. I happen to love it. I really do. Digital photography has made possible things that have stretched the imagination and broadened the mind. Heck, you and I are talking because of digital communication. And, for many photographers, digital technology has changed their final product.

Why? Why did it change? Were clients banging down the door demanding digital images only…or were we quick to hand them over, stick a fork in it, and say, “I’m done.”

Personally, I think it’s the latter.

Again, why? Well, with digital only, we don’t have to sell. And selling, well, the thought produces tremors in a lot of people. And then, having sold, we have to produce a product. And then, we have to hope the clients like the product. And then, we have to deliver the product.

All that…when you could slap ‘em on a CD, grab a little pocket change and be done? Well, it’s easy to see, at least to me, why that became attractive and “the thing to do.” (Not to mention this was advocated and promoted by those who stood to profit from the shift to digital only. Of course, that’s a whole other conversation.)

But…I submit it is not always what clients want…even when they say it is. Like the 8×10, they think they need to ask: “Can I get the CD?” That’s what their friends did, right? And that’s the offer they are getting everywhere they turn, so they figure it’s “what’s done.” And, having received the CD, or USB drive, or online gallery, the images will be shared for a week or so, and then, the excitement will wane and the disk will be placed in a drawer.

And it will be forgotten.

Sure, a handful might, just might, print them. Will they look how YOU intended them? After all, your name is on them, so you better hope so. I say the odds are doubtful.

The bottom line, at least, to me, is that we have devalued many things in this industry: the work, the final product, the relationships between client and photographer, the way we market…(examples are happily given for all of these upon request) and it’s time we get back to making things MEAN something again.

I believe we do that by creating a print for our client…something that lasts. I might give a social media copy to share online, but I believe my job isn’t done until I place a paper photograph in their hand, because I believe that the ONLY tangible thing we give our clients shouldn’t be a USB drive.

And, I believe their grandkids will one day be grateful.

xoxo

Imaging USA 2014: A Pounds Perspective

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

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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!