Long after moments pass in time, the memories remain, especially when they’re preserved in print. Although photography has largely transitioned into a digital medium, photographic print technology continues to advance and the options available today for hard copy images are nothing short of stunning. Leading the way with a large and innovative selection, Bay Photo Lab has leveraged a long and proud history in the industry to become the go-to choice for professional photographers. We’re happy to share their story with you in our latest installment of company features.

This article is part of our Company Feature Series, in which we share insight into the companies who create the photography products that we know and trust. The goal of this series is to share stories that inspire our readers to innovate and create within the photo industry.

Where are you located?

“Bay Photo Lab is currently headquartered at 920 Disc Drive, Scotts Valley, CA, 95066.”

What is the Bay Photo Lab origin story?

bay photo lab founder
Bay Photo Lab Founder & CEO, Larry Abitbol (pictured in the 1970’s)

“The Bay Photo story begins in 1967. After studying photography in high school and community college our owner and CEO, Larry Abitbol, started his professional photography career. After a 3-month photo trip in 1972, he found a storage spot in Santa Cruz County, California and thought he might as well build a dark room inside the storage space (photographers always ask for forgiveness, not permission… right?!). He began by printing all of his own work, then started printing work for other photographers. He really enjoyed the technical end and soon took over the entire building.

In 1975 Bay Photo Lab was born, and grew from there. We’ve moved through 5 locations and are now operating in the beautiful former Seagate headquarters in Scotts Valley, California, as well as the Black River Imaging facility in Springfield, Missouri. We also operate two retail locations for local photographers in Santa Cruz, California.”

bay photo's first lab
Bay Photo Lab’s first lab in Santa Cruz, CA.

What is the Mission of Your Company?

“Bay Photo Lab has a long history of innovative photographic printing and photo finishing services. We have been providing Professional Photographers with the highest quality printing and customer service for over 40 years. We are committed to providing personal attention and a wide range of products. We pride ourselves on our quality printing, great Customer Service and fast delivery.”
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What are your core values?

“Quality, Service, and Innovation. We strive to remain an industry-leading partner that professional photographers can rely on for their business needs, while casually maintaining a friendly and family-like company culture.”

How do you strive to be different from others in your space?

“At Bay Photo, our staff has a true passion for photography, and that passion shows in everything we produce. Our core values listed above (Quality, Service and Innovation) are what have contributed to the growth of our company through the transition from film to digital.”

Bay Photo Lab team at a conference
Image by Bay Photo Lab

“We make sure to use top-notch quality materials to provide photographers with the best quality products for their images. We also understand we are a photography partner for our customers, so our Customer Service Team is readily available via phone, live chat and email, giving photographers the best level of support and care. Our cutting-edge innovation differentiates us as one of the top pro labs worldwide. We listen to our customers when it comes to the products and services they feel would appeal to their clients and help their business grow, and we continually expand and improve our product catalog to reflect that.”

What product or service are you most proud of and why?

“Our core business of photographic printing on traditional silver halide materials has been augmented by the addition of several digital printing technologies; double-sided Press Printed Products on digital printing presses for cards and books, Inkjet (Giclée) printing on a wide variety of smooth and textured fine art papers including canvas, dye-sublimation process involving the infusion of inks onto a wide variety of materials including Metal, and UV flatbed printing that can print very durable inks on a huge variety of substrates including Wood and Glass.

We pioneered the wide adaptation of MetalPrints as a medium, and continue to lead the industry in quality, sizes and options. Our MetalPrints are available in custom sizes up to 48×96″ on 5 different surfaces. Our NEW Performance EXT Metal was specially engineered for extended life in the elements, with a minimum lifespan of 2-3 years in direct sunlight. We have mastered the MetalPrint process.”

Xpozer print by bay photo lab
Image of Xpozer print by Bay Photo Lab

“Xpozer (see example above), available in sizes up to 40×80”, is a beautiful and versatile fine art print medium that is exclusive to Bay Photo for distribution in the U.S. We designed Xpozer Expo Display Kits to serve exhibiting photographers with a portable, lightweight, affordable display option that is quick and easy to set up and travel with.

We were one of the first pro labs to offer framing and we currently offer over 50 frame moldings. Our Canvas Prints are printed on the finest aqueous based materials and are laminated for extreme durability. Other Wall Art Products include Acrylic Prints, Matted Prints, Wood Prints and more.”

bay photo lab printed books
Image by Bay Photo Lab

“We also offer premium quality Press Printed Books and Photographic Albums, along with Press Printed Cards and Promotional Products. Our Photographic Albums are hand crafted and we just introduced a huge 18×18” size that opens up to 18×36”.

Our product selection truly makes us a one-stop shop for Photographers and Artists seeking the best photo products.”

Given the evolving state of the industry, what’s next for your company?

“We do not put too much work into projecting the future of the industry; instead, we try to create the future of the industry by pushing forward in refining all of our processes and looking for new products that augment the amazing industry we are fortunate to be a part of.”

fine art deckled print by Bay Photo Lab
Image of loose fine art deckled edge print by Bay Photo Lab

“We’ve recently released some great new products and options, including Deckled Edge Framed Fine Art Prints, Clusters and Splits for Acrylic Prints and Wood Prints, and Maximum HD Photographic Prints.

We have a few upcoming releases currently in the making (top secret!). We are constantly working on new products, along with the quickest and easiest software solutions for ordering them, so stay tuned!”
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If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice when starting this business, what would you say?

“Plan for success, recognize and appreciate talent, work smart, measure twice / cut once, be a Swiss Army Knife but notice when you need a Bowie knife.”

Please share any fun or interesting facts about the manufacturing or development process of your products or services that people may now know about

“Often times in our history (we do not do this anymore), we designed and went live with a new product without having thoroughly figured out the production process to do it in volume. We always figured it out eventually, albeit with a little more stress.

We were the first ROES lab. We knew we needed a way for photographers to easily place orders so we found John Wengert and Don Tipton of Softworks and within 3 months ROES was developed, and that changed everything for Photographers. We still have the zip file containing the first live ROES order.

During the digital revolution we continued with our delivery routes to the San Francisco Bay Area. We would look for orders that were placed by photographers late at night, 10:00 pm to 3:00 am, print them and hand deliver them the same day, that was unprecedented in those days.

The first day we reached 100 digital orders, in 2003, our Owner, Production Manager and Lead Tech were all there to witness the 100th order coming in. Today they are still at Bay Photo, leading the way for new adventures.

We moved 3 times in 10 years. Each time we shut down on a Friday night, continued to take in orders, and ran a full Sunday shift in order to have no delays in our order delivery.”

bay photo lab headquarters
Image by Bay Photo Lab

“Our current campus was formerly the Seagate Corporate Headquarters. We connected two buildings into one by adding a large connecting building (see above).

We’ve been known at times to innovate new products by experimenting with the materials and processes we currently have in place. You might say our ThinWraps were a “happy accident” through this experimentation, but they quickly became one of our most popular Wall Displays, and set a new bar for industry innovation. When deciding how to show our Book covers at a trade show, Bay Photo’s Founder, Larry, and Polo, our Press Printed Department Lead, realized that by adding a mount block to our beautiful photo covers, they had created a striking and unique wall display. ThinWraps were born!”

Do you have any advice for photographers interested in creating a product or service in this industry?

“We are biased but, selling printed products makes for a great experience for your clients, brings the joy of images into being, and increases your revenue.”

Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you?

Bay Photo Lab team portrait
Image by Bay Photo Lab

“We are a Certified Monterey Bay Green Business, and there are several ways our environmental responsibility is reflected in our process. We offer recycled Press Printed and Fine Art Papers, and recycle all scraps from misprints. All of our Frame Mouldings are sustainably harvested, and hand-cut to minimize waste. Our Barnwood Frames are made from reclaimed wood sourced in Santa Cruz County. Our paper and plastic waste is recycled through our County’s recycle program. We recover silver from our photographic materials and send it to the refiner. We work with a hazardous waste contractor to haul used Press Printed ink cartridges. Other printer ink cartridges are either returned to manufacturer or recycled through our County’s recycle program. We are proud to be doing our part in minimizing our carbon footprint, to protect the environment we all call home. More information can be found on our About Us page.

We love to see and share final print displays on social media! Use the hashtag #bayphotolab for your chance to be featured. Also, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for weekly 24-hour specials announced every Tuesday at 8am PT.

We always have a special offer running on THIS page, and you can follow our sponsored events HERE.”

You can find Bay Photo Lab on the web via the links below:

Bay Photo Lab: Website | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube

Additional links:
Why Pro Photographers Trust Bay Photo
One Simple Tip to Selling More Wall Art
Hudson Henry Prepares An Image for a Bay Photo MetalPrint Split