Oh ya, we bet you guessed it... It all started way back in the 1970's in a home basement black and white darkroom. Always striving for excellence, we picked up a few commercial clients. "This is COOL!" Before long it was out of the basement and on to a real storefront with a photo studio to boot. We became Lake Superior Custom Photo Lab and Jeff Frey & Associates Photography.
A handful of what we would now call "techno geeks," we kept our eyes on the future. More equipment! More capabilities! We grew. Color film processors, paper processors, multiple darkrooms, art copy, one-hour photo, color separations for the printing press, we did it all.
Somewhere along the way we realized that answering the phone "Lake Superior Custom Photo Lab" ump-teen times a day was way cumbersome, we dropped "Lake Superior" and officially became Custom PhotoLab.
In the mid 1990s, a few of us began to sense a shift - digital was coming. We began to act, but what to do? The ensuing years were difficult. The desire for digital photography was there but the technology was not. We spent a lot on equipment that almost immediately became obsolete. One of us even made a go at it very early on with his very own Iris printer. (Talk about courageous! After that, ah... was over, we picked him up, dusted him off, and he’s never looked back.) Some companies did not survive. But we did and eventually all of our "wet" machines ended up being chopped up and in the dumpster. Now we had no darkrooms, no custom, no photo lab as we had known it. We changed our name again.
We became, once and for all, CPL Imaging. And now we can proudly say that we were all there the first time a customer was "absolutely thrilled" when we "incredibly" removed a street sign from a picture of her house.
That was "then" this is now.* So, for you engineers out there, here is one of the really successful things we did along the way - We found a cast iron copy stand [circa 1928] at a "going out of business" sale at a photo engraving company. We're talking drop table, baby! The thing weighs something like 600lbs. Very, very stable. With the help of a machine shop we mated it with a ZBE Satellite, added Nikon enlarging lenses (extreme flat field focus) and then topped it off with a Better Light scanning back. That's just one of the secrets behind our perfect high-end art scans. But it doesn't end there, with expansive studio space we can scan extremely large original works... Nobody's measured the door, but its gotta be at least 12 feet high. We can even scan immovable art work on location. Got a fresco? No problem.
But without a true understanding of color itself all of that would mean nothing, our biggest secret, is us.
Somebody here is hiding a wireless shutter release.
We do not print weddings, grads, or "package prints". (Sorry, commercial photofolks.) We are here to provide artists, whether you use a brush or a camera or anything else, with the absolute best archival reproductions available anywhere in the world. Period. We are all artists ourselves and its preservation is our passion.
At CPL we eschew obfuscation, so we'll leave out the legalese and use real words...
We pledge to deliver to you the highest quality work in a timely manner. If you are not satisfied with what you receive, we will do our best to rectify the problem in an equally timely fashion. That's what we have done since day one and it has served us and our customers well.
We take this oath seriously, after all, we do have an important reputation to uphold.
*We were going to do the thing, that everybody does, where we add up all our individual years of experience, but we broke the abacus.
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