How Picto Uses its History, Heritage and the Latest Technology to Serve Photographers
October 19, 2017
With over 65 years of printing experience, Picto continues to adapt and evolve to meet the changing needs of today's clients, while still keeping a strong focus on quality and craftsmanship.
Photographers, both young talents and seasoned shooters, can expect the highest level of quality from Picto, which has a heritage of craftsmanship and expertise with advanced technology and online services.
Founded in Paris in 1950, Picto is unique among photo-printing labs. The company has survived many of the changes in the industry by offering the best of traditional on-site and in-person services, as well as a modern online solution to meet the changing needs of its clientele. To find out more about Picto’s history and current services, PDNOnline spoke with Philippe Gassmann, Picto’s CEO and the founder’s grandson; Edouard Beaslay, Picto New York’s CEO; and Dayana Gomez, project manager for Picto New York. Here’s what they had to say about the longevity and adaptability of the still-growing company.
PDN: Is there a particular story from Picto’s past that defines what makes it such a unique photo lab?
Picto: Yes. It’s a story that perfectly illustrates Picto’s dedication to collaboration: Acclaimed photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, who was also co-founder of Magnum Photos, was a friend of Pierre Gassmann, Picto’s founder. Gassmann was a better printer than photographer, and Cartier-Bresson knew how to make great pictures, but couldn’t make great prints.
Cartier-Bresson was one of the first photographers to work with Picto, but he noticed that, when his negative was not perfectly centered in the film holder, the image became cropped on the print. To prevent this, Gassman adjusted the Picto printers so that they slightly enlarged the window of the film holder to include the film border. As a result, Cartier-Bresson’s prints all have that signature black margin.
PDN: Picto has a long history and connection to the photography world. How does that benefit a young photographer working today?
Picto: Picto’s mission has always been about supporting and serving photographers and understanding their needs, even when there are dramatic shifts in the industry. In a world flooded with images, emerging and professional photographers have to stand out, which is why museum-quality prints are crucial to their careers.
Photographers, both young talents and seasoned shooters, can expect the highest level of quality from Picto, which has a heritage of craftsmanship and expertise with advanced technology and online services. It’s how we can not only offer advanced services, but also optimize the cost for photographers without reducing the quality of our output.
PDN: What technical services do you offer that have been helpful and popular with photographers?
Picto: ICC profiles are very useful. Photographers can use them to match their images with their prints, and the profiles allow photographers to simulate the appearance of the final work on a calibrated monitor before placing an order.
Photographers can also order custom-sized prints for orders that don’t fit the standard, and all orders can be saved so images can be printed multiple times with the same settings without needing to upload a file again. We also offer live chat on our site, which lets us personally advise each photographer online and answer their individual questions.
PDN: Some photographers are technically savvy, while others are less so. How do you work with such a spectrum of photographers yet maintain consistent results?
Picto: This is where the live chat comes in handy. But even if a photographer has already placed an order without live chat help, our standard settings guarantee a quality print. For less tech-savvy artists, Picto is there to offer assistance with installing ICC profiles, uploading files and choosing papers, print sizes, frames and other options.
PDN: What are some new printing technologies that Picto is offering?
Picto: Picto uses the Epson P20000 printer, which offers the best printing quality up to 60-inches wide. On PictoOnline, we’ve been getting lots of orders for HD metal, or dye sublimation, which is relatively new in the marketplace. HD metal prints are durable, extremely scratch resistant and more affordable than acrylic-mounted prints. Another advantage is that colors on these types of metal prints pop because the display is ultra glossy and has an acrylic-like finish, which is particularly appealing to photographers.
PDN: What’s a memorable project you’ve worked on recently?
Picto: Legendary French photographer Raymond Depardon was invited to revisit his landmark series, “Correspondance New Yorkaise,” which he shot in 1981 for the French newspaper, Libération. The new assignment was a special commission for the FIAF Gallery in New York, and the series would also be printed each day for ten days in the newspaper.
For this commission, Depardon came to New York City to shoot with a large-format camera before the opening of the exhibition. The schedule was demanding; Depardon would shoot from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m., then drop the 8×10 film off at the lab, which we processed between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Then, at 10 a.m., Depardon and the curator selected the best picture of the day, which was scanned, cleaned and sent to Libération for their issue the following day.
Picto also needed to print all the images for the exhibition, which again had a very short turnaround. But three days after the shoot, Picto delivered ten 40- by 50-inch framed prints for the exhibition. Depardon even praised Picto for its amazing work with such a short turnaround in a magazine interview!
PDN: What aspect of your business has made you the proudest?
Picto: The active part Picto has taken since 1950 in shaping the history of photography, its capacity to adapt to a changing market, and its dedication to photographers. Picto has survived waves of drastic changes in the industry and has kept developing its craftsmanship and new technologies in order to serve its customers better. It was also the first online photo lab to open in France, bringing to photographers a platform that offers a new level of autonomy and follows the development of new technologies. From Cartier-Bresson and the early Magnum photographers to the emerging talents of today, photographers have entrusted Picto with printing their precious images, and we are proud to continue to support and promote their work.
For more about Picto, visit us.pictoonline.com