Photography in a challenging economy: Photolab, Athens, Greece

It is well known that the recent developments for the Greek economy have been very frustrating. Since 2008 Greek enterprises have been facing thousands of problems, some of them have withstood when others have not. Many address these problems with passivity while others with activation. Photolab chose extroversion, the bFeatured imageelief in staff capabilities as well as the equipment, and of course the 35 years of experience in the domain.

The last five years, there have been endless hours of meetings with my partners so as to trace a new road, a strategy that will meet the economy’s current conditions. There have been plenty of ideas. Price reduction, new highly commercial products, operating cost reduction, etc. All of these proposals did not satisfy me. The faith in our potentials did not allow me to drift in that kind of logic.

During 2008 we reached our first decisions. Purchase of a new private building, investment in a brand new UV machine and simultaneously complete renovation of our head office. The following years the same logic prevailed. Photolab’s accession into the E.U. program of subsidies for business and capital investments of approximately 250.000€ in new equipment. New digital cutter, new printers, certification as an official ChromaLuxe lab and much more.Featured image

In 2014, we arranged our first participation as ChromaLuxe’s guest exhibitors in the world’s biggest photo exhibition show in Cologne of Germany, known as Photokina. Photolab achieved the greatest compliments from visitors for our whole presence. Our certification as one of the 14 Official ChromaLuxe Labs in the world, made it worth our while.

ChromaLuxe’s products have helped Photolab achieve its goals to enter the European market and simultaneously increase sales into the Greek market. More particularly, since February 2013 Metal Prints have grown ten times, proving that we work intently in that direction.

The market has embraced Metal Print, despite the fact that it is a premium and expensive materiaFeatured imagel as far as Greek facts is concerned. Metal Print is an extremely unique material, requires top quality equipment plus very high and demanding level knowledge of color management. It is not a product that everyone can deal with. That fact actually can be proved from the small number of Official ChromaLuxe Labs around the world.

Photolab provides what is best in order to satisfy Greek as well as European customers. We set up all the production line according to ChromaLuxe instructions, Zund’s digital cutter so as to support custom dimensions without compromising on quality, as well as shipping services for Metal Prints in every European country through our collaboration with TNT delivery.

As an epilogue, let’s believe in Greece, lets be inspired by a wonderful country with beautiful people. Greek businesses can be on the top and Photolab will always be in the front row!!!

Being a meFeatured imagember of the team since 1998, Stratos Actidis is leading Photolab for the last 4 years. He has studied Photography in the Leica Academy of Athens from 1998 up to 2000. He has been highly trained in colour management and as an operator of various systems like Durst Lambda 130, Fujifilm Frontier 355, Zund G3 250M digital cutter, Konica digital offset printer, Roland and Epson ink jet printers and much more. Furthermore he is a Photoshop expert and he has personally designed Photolab’s awarded web site:


Respect your work: Safe Shipping (+ video)

One of the worst imaginable calls in your business is from a client who has received a wonderful ChromaLuxe panel damaged in transit. No matter how great your piece of ChromaLuxe is, if the panel arrives damaged, your customer is going to be upset. In my experience, most damage can be avoided with careful planning and packaging, just to be sure that the ChromaLuxe panel arrives ‘in one piece’.

boxIt all starts with using the best sublimation paper, using the correct time, temperature and pressure on your heat press. When your panel has cooled down, the shipping process can start. Rule number one: use the same professionalism for the final part of your job – packaging – as you do for every other step. We searched for a long time to find the easiest, most economical and fastest way to pack your ChromaLuxe panels. Result is a 3-piece packing solution that is shown in the below video. If you want more info about this solution or you want to buy a sample, please contact the Universal Woods EMEA office.

Some other practical tips:

  • always wear soft white gloves (like you would to handle photographs), to prevent fingermarks on the ChromaLuxe surface.
  • add on your shipping documents that the packages can’t be stacked.
  • buy the best packing tape you can afford. Cheap tape is harder to apply, harder to cut and doesn’t stick.
  • use enough ‘fragile’ stickers. I imagine that delivery companies become pretty immune to those stickers, but it makes you feel better when you use enough and large stickers on every shipment.

stevieSteven Roesbeke has a huge experience in the graphical industry with a lot of expertise in color management and output solutions. Since 2013 he is the Technical Support Field Engineer at Universal Woods EMEA. Read his technical blog posts to discover helpful tips & tricks and learn more about the do’s and dont’s of (large format) sublimation. You can always contact him at

Abracadabra – the magic of sublimation!

Anyone who worked in a darkroom remembers how they looked at their 35mm negative, printed it with their enlarger and then placed it in the chemicals. The image slowly appeared in the red light, but until it was washed and dried and viewed in daylight, you didn’t know exactly how it would look.

It’s a little bit similar with sublimation. You have to print it onto a special paper using a Ricoh (small format) or Epson (large format) printer using sublimation inks. Then you attach the print to the ChromaLuxe metal panel and place it in the heat press. A couple of minutes later, you take it out and you have a perfect color image on the metal plate.

But when you make your first print and you look at the colors on the paper, it looks truly terrible. It is as if the colors are all washed out, the blacks are grey, there is no density to the colors and no apparent tonality. How can this turn into a stunning ChromaLuxe print?

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Well, that is the magic of sublimation!

Without wishing to get too technical, when you place the paper and coated aluminium plate into the heat press at approx. 200oC, the inks change directly from a solid state to a gaseous state, without passing the expected liquid phase that occurs with most chemicals. The dyes in their gaseous form are infused into the seven layer coating on the ChromaLuxe panels where the full color gamut is created. Remove from the press, take off the paper and there is the ChromaLuxe print in all its colorful glory. The color gamut range is very similar to the top silver halide prints and much better than UV direct printing. The layers in the coating also help generate an almost 3D look.

At last year’s Photokina expo, we were making small samples on the stand. Everybody was so amazed by the difference between the paper print and the final result, I got into the habit of going ‘abracadabra’ as I peeled off the paper. A colleague then dropped the plate onto the floor and jumped on it to demonstrate how tough the coating is against scratches etc.

One last thing. When I started sublimation printing I wondered how we could possibly color manage this weird print with our calibration units. Of course, you don’t. You print the test chart onto the paper, sublimate it onto the aluminium and then read the aluminium print – obvious really!

Featured imageCharles Henniker-Heaton has over 30 years experience in the imaging industry, first at Durst and then at Fujifilm as a senior manager involved in retail photo, chemicals and since 2006 as European Marketing Manager for large format printing. He joined ChromaLuxe EMEA in 2014 in charge of European Business Development for large format.

Nothing ever happens in Belgium

‘Nothing ever happens in Belgium, right?’

Our fatalist taxi-driver managed to insult me and freak me out, while manoeuvring us through the busy London morning traffic. It was a week after the Paris attacks and a day after the foiled one in Verviers.

‘Who would have thought so, in Belgium… We all know, an attack in London is imminent: they know it will happen, just not when and where. But when your time has come, it has come, right?’

Welcome to London…

The Hilton Metropole Hotel in London hosted the SWPP (Society of Wedding Featured imageand Portrait Photographers) Convention and Trade Show from January 16th to 18th: the place to be for any wedding or portrait photographer in the country. Many master classes succeeded one another, with an opportunity for the attendees to stroll around the trade show booths during the breaks.

We are not from the UK, not a lab and hence not selling direct to photographers and we have four of the best UK labs selling our product, so why were we here with a booth of 4×2 m? Only one answer: Brand awareness and visibility. When a photographer turns to a lab for the printing of his images, we want him to ask for a ChromaLuxe, not a canvas, an acrylic or Dibond, but a metal print, printed on ChromaLuxe!

I have to admit: convincing a photographer to go for a ‘new’ and ‘undiscovered’ printing technique isn’t easy. They have a vast clientele who like their canvasses or framed photo paper and might not want to risk adding a new and more expensive material to the mix. However, with the right images at the booth, you will be able to attract and awe the ones looking for the novelties on the market.

Looking for great images toFeatured image display at a booth? One tip: forget about iStock and Shutterstock, but look for real photographers willing to share their images with you. You’ll find out three things working this way: 1) the extra time spent on looking for ‘real’ images will be largely compensated by the enthusiasm of photographers once they discover ChromaLuxe, 2) the visitors of your booth will be attracted by real photos of real people, in contrast to the ‘look how naturally I can smile’-family portraits you pay €5 for on image databases. 3) before you know it you’ll have a database of photographers eager to have you use their images, as for them it’s publicity too! And there’s even a number four: these photographers will talk and tweet about you and make your music. Now that’s a return on investment!

Where to find them, these photographers, you ask? They’re all around! Six weeks prior to the show, we launched a tweet, a couple of times the same one, for optimal reach:

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With the reactions we got, our graphic designer started to make the puzzle: portraits, weddings, some commercial photography. Contacting photographers, getting the high res files, sublimating the panels. Everyone who ever planned a booth knows how hectic this can be.

And for Europe, Africa and the Middle East, all of this is done from our offices in Belgium. So nothing ever happens in Belgium? No, not right.

Featured image Carolyn Krekels is jr Marketing Manager at Universal Woods EMEA, in Schelle, Belgium. She has been taking care of the EMEA marketing for the Universal Woods products for 9 years so far, first working for the EMEA distribution partner of Universal Woods. In 2012 she joined the Universal Woods EMEA team. In Carolyn’s posts, she will give you insight in the marketing actions organised by Universal Woods EMEA and can give you useful hands-on tips on how to bring your product to the market. Contact her via