Subhash Photos, a name synonymous with photography in Belgaum.
The beginning of this great photographic era began way back in 1934 with the start of Shambhu Appaji Photo Artists near fish market in Camp by Shri. Shambhu Appaji Oulkar.
His foresightedness led his two sons Mahadev & Bahirji to go to Bombay & study about photography, its techniques and also the latest equipment and what is the future of this business.
Bhairji, Shambhu’s son who had got himself trained in photography did a commendable job during the Goa liberation movement and he won a National award for the same, this was the first feather in the crown.
Anand Oulkar nephew of Bahirji Oulkar under the able guidance of Bahirji developed himself to be master in black & white portrait photography. This confidence and recognition laid the strong foundation stone of ‘Subhash Photos’.
The Panchratnas of Laxmanrao Oulkar, namely Anand, Shashikant, Subhash, Shivaji & Dinesh started Subhash Photo Studio at Hutatma Chowk, Ramdev Galli in 1974. Innovative ideas prompt service and customer satisfaction meant Subhash Photos was on the right track and gained popularity in short time.
During that time the 120 mm film were being used mainly B & W, color photos came in early 1974 and demand grew for Color photos. In the same dark room colour photos were printed using enlarger and basket developing, but this process took a long time and mainly rolls were collected and sent to Bombay for printing.
1980 saw the coming of 35 mm rolls and color printing. At this moment, Subhash Oulkar said we need to go and see what the future of Color printing is and what the latest technology is. In 1983, Subhash Color Centre was started in Deshpande Galli, with a manually operated color developing machine. In 1985 imported a QSS 701 machine from Japan which was fully computerized. Business grew and 1987 saw one more import of the machine.
In 1990 the latest then, QSS 1201, was imported which gave print outs in 13 minutes, with this machine Subhash photos became the full fledged lab in North Karnataka and South Maharashtra.
Opportunities were seen not only in the Belgaum market but also in Kolhapur where a lab was opened in 1992 with affiliation with Kodak Express which was the 2nd Kodak Express lab in India only after Ahemdabad. The machine installed in Kolhapur was first in India and SAARC countries.
Kodak Express store was opened in Belgaum in 1997 on college road, the first one in north Karnataka.
Beginning humbly with a Single branch at Hutatama chowk to the now 4 storied one stop shop in photography in Ramdev Galli and 11 branches in Kolhapur, Sangli, Miraj, Ratnagiri , Madgaon, Ponda and of course 3 branches in Belgaum.
A new branch is being opened at Deshmukh road to cater to the suburban markets. Innovativeness and getting the best in technology for the consumers is the mission of Subhash Photos and they achieve it with many new ideas like installing a self operated Kiosk for taking orders. You just go to the kiosk put in your memory card or CD select the pictures, the size you want them to be printed and you place the order and your photos directly go for printing, an easy way to do.
All the labs are equipped with Noritsu’s latest technology machines. That ensures the best quality prints, at high speeds. The group entered into digital photography business with importing three Noritsu machines, at Belgaum, Kolhapur and Sangli. The group believes in providing the best service at a competitive price, at the best speed. Subhash Photos strongly believes in Customer Satisfaction and Quality Product and this has been the main objective of the group. Subhash photos is a leader in studio portraits and conventional imaging business. The strategy developed here is to be a leader in digital imaging business.
They have a decentralized management system. Each branch takes it own decisions. Each member of the family is looking after different functions of each branch.
Each individual Oulkar is given the authority on the decisions for the projects undertaken by him/her. Trustworthiness amongst the Oulkar’s & employees, Sense of Togetherness & Service to the Society is their management goal.
The second generation Oulkar’s have specialized themselves in different aspects of photography. It’s a family business but run professionally.The Oulkar Ladies are not behind either; they take active part in the day to day running of the studio and also look after the human relations part. All the 2nd generations Oulkar’s have been trained for specialized jobs.Amit (son of Anand) manages the lab and its process.
Whether you’re an occasional snap shooter or a seasoned professional, Subhash Photos is your one stop shop for all your photographic needs. From the latest digital technology to hand-processed black & white and everything in between, they do it all.
In all it’s a Subhash Photos moment.
Excerpts of the interview done with Mr.Deepak A Oulkar:
1. Do you remember the first ever photo taken in the studio when it was started?
2. The prices you charge for photo printing are normally higher than the normal market rates, why is this?
Our prices are a bit on the higher side, but our pricing is correct taking into consideration the latest laser machines and raw materials we use. The main aspect is that our photos will last longer and the colours also will stay on as original for many years due to use of high quality chemicals.
3. With the advent of Digital cameras isn’t there a fall in printing of photos?
Yes very true, it was there in beginning, now the printing is growing. People click photos on mobiles, digi cams etc and the picture taking has increased by over 100% so there is growth in photo taking and same is the case with printing. People earlier used to think before they click but now it’s reverse, just go on clicking. There are other new segments like greeting cards, visiting cards which also have helped in the growth of printing.
4. Technology keeps on changing every month how do you keep a track of this and plan your future?
Visiting metros & companies and visiting photo expos worldwide which enable us to know the latest technology and what might be coming in the future, by which we plan what and in which machine we need to invest.
5. You are now a brand in photography do you plan to diversify from this field into something else?
Nothing at this time, we plan to open a one stop shop like Subhash photo plaza in Sangli and Kolhapur.
6. In 1983 when u bought the 1st QSS machine what were you feelings?
It was a major risk but positive and risk paid off as a reward. If we don’t take risks we can’t succeed.
7. What is the main aspect which draws consumers towards you?
Prompt service, quality innovativeness.
8. What quick advice do you have for someone who simply wants to improve their photography skills? Study photographs; look at as many picture books and magazines as you can. Analyze the images carefully and learn why some are more successful than others.
Go on taking photos and then study those analyze them then go to Photoshop and reading about some technical aspects of photography and trying them out.
Seeing the photos on a computer screen is completely different from a print out version. So click print them out and analyze them.
9. Have you done or plan to do some training programs for upcoming photographers?
We normally do awareness sessions for photographers and this time we plan to do the same for amateurs also. We have an Imaging school at our Subhash Photo Plaza where you can get yourself trained in different imaging soft wares.
10. What do you feel about this blog?
This blog is doing a good job and I don’t have to wait for tomorrows newspapers and we get the news instantly and the special stories on business people is very encouraging and informative. Personally came to know many new things about Belgaum which I never knew.