Tahlequah Daily Press

August 16, 2013

Camera film can still be developed here

But that situation could change in the future, as digital technology overtakes the photo industry.

Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — srowley@tahlequahdailypress.com

While the digital revolution has accorded an array of conveniences on the world, it has also inflicted technological casualties.

Landline phones, picture tube TVs and computer-less cars all seem headed the way of the mastodon. Film photography is also an endangered species.

Among the preparations for a planned remodeling of its Tahlequah store, Reasor’s will soon permanently close its photo service desk, though details have not been announced. It is the last such desk among the Reasor’s locations.

Options remain in Tahlequah for those who still love film. The Walmart Supercenter at 2020 S. Muskogee Ave. has a off-site service, and Walgreens at 1905 S. Muskogee Ave. offers one-hour film and print developing.

“It is still very worthwhile for us,” said Garrett Williams, a photo specialist for Walgreens. “A lot of people still use film and want prints. The sales of our disposable cameras using 35-millimeter film have actually gone up recently.”

Mat Scrapper, also a Walgreens photo specialist, said the desk receives five to 10 rolls of film a day.

“There are people devoted to film,” he said. “Some photographers prefer it and shoot better pictures. The 35-millimeter disposables are handy if walking around with a big camera is a hassle. People take them to the lake or the river; we stock waterproof models, too. They sell like crazy.”

While Walgreens still develops film, Scrapper said much of the work involves today’s digital formats – sometimes to make prints of photos, or to convert an old medium to digital.

“We can create prints from phones and social media,” he said. “We can print posters of all different sizes. People can email photos to us from their computers or phones. We can take 35-millimeter and make it digital, and we also offer send-off services like VHS to DVD.”

Scrapper said photography had “pretty much” converted to digital when he first became interested in the hobby.

“When I started here more than two years ago, I didn’t know they developed 35-millimeter here,” he said. “But I wanted to learn new things. It wasn’t as big a transition from say a ‘red room’ to digital, but there are some little fun things. There is a lot of pushing buttons, but there are still some chemicals we need to learn about and use.”

Like many younger photography enthusiasts, Scrapper sees little problem with the dominance of digital photography.

“If you want to put a picture online, it has to be digital,” he said. “More people can see it online. But it still is about what people want. Some still like the photo albums, but some would rather have digital photo albums.”

Though visual formats may change, Scrapper said the attachment people feel to them never will.

“I love that sometimes I get to hear the stories that go with the photos,” he said. “We once had a customer who brought in about 10 rolls her husband had sent to her from Iraq. She had no idea what was on them. It was nice to see her reaction – a combination of happy and sad. Sometimes people bring 10-year-old digital photos in to us. People enjoy their photographs, however they are taken.”