Q: What is the Customer Show?
A: In a sentence, it's a year's worth of outstanding images made by our customers in normal, everyday orders which are curated by our staff as we go about our lab duties.
Q: How are the photographs selected?
A: While your film makes its way through our production line, we are always checking for quality and balance. Usually, we're concerned about the quality of our printing and processing, but sometimes we discover an image that is particularly striking. When we come across a photograph that makes us look twice, we nominate it for the Customer Show. With a majority vote from the staff and the photographer's blessing, an extra print is made and mounted included.
Q: Can I submit images for the Customer Show?
A: No. We do not at any time accept submissions to the Customer Show. You can continue bringing us your film and continue getting prints with the hope of being selected, but we cannot guarantee inclusion as the result of frequency or persistence alone. But the more film you expose, the more chances you have of capturing that elusive moment of artistic clarity. So keep it up! But do it for yourself, and not for the show.
Q: Were the photographs in the 2013 show all taken in 2013?
A: The year of the show is the year that the images came to us for printing and were selected to be shown. Film that we receive in 2013 could have been exposed in 2013, but it could have just as easily been exposed in 1950. We do not limit the show images to a certain year made, just a certain year selected.
Q: Are these pictures really made by your customers?
A: Really truly, yes. We are blessed with a very talented pool of customers, but the point of the show is that art can come from anywhere, and can happen whether you're trying to create art or not. We believe that it doesn't take a professional photographer to make a beautiful image, and we aim to celebrate the everyday art that we see in the film our customers send us.
Q: Why do you do this?
A: Because we are incapable of not doing it. There's this feeling of responsibility that comes over us when we hold in our hands an image that has thrown us out of our normal routines. We couldn't live with ourselves if we let such an image fall into obscurity without being seen and appreciated by a large audience. So in a way, we do it for ourselves, so that we can sleep at night.
Q: Are the images in the show for sale?
A: Most of the time, yes. If there is an image that speaks to you, let us know. We can usually introduce prospective buyers to the photographers directly, without you needing to work through us.
Q: What happens after the show comes down?
A: There are several ways you can enjoy old Customer Shows after December. The first is on our website galleries, where we've posted each year's Customer Show images for you to enjoy at your leisure. We also hang the previous 3-4 years' shows each December, so you can always come back when it's Customer Show Season and see some of your old recent favorites on the walls again.
Q: Where can I learn more?
You can call us, of course, at 503.978.0333. We've also talked with the press a few times about the show. Our recent favorite was Jake's talk with April Baer from OPB 's State of Wonder in December 2013. Click here to listen to the segment.