John’s newsletter from 20 yrs ago

October 15th. 1994

Wow! What a night. David Williams spoke with such enthusiasm it kept me awake. I havn’t  felt the electricity the talk produced in ages. Does this mean we are all going out to improve our businesses ?

Here are some of David’s points on customer service.

1 Few customers will educate you. they will take their business elsewhere.

2 Happy customers will pay dividends by telling others of your good work.

3 The first person your customer has contact with will set their attitude towards you and your firm.

4 Treat old clients like new business.

These points and others are readily apparent, but in todays hectic world are quite often overlooked.

Till next time



September 15th 1994

Spring is here ! The start of new life in the plant and animal world. The time our feelings turn to warm emotions. Family portraits and weddings should be easier to sell.

It is time to start promoting the Christmas season and all types of gift giving ideas.

I have enclosed two articles from America, one a bit of fun, the other some serious thinking. I know what you are going to say, American figures, American marketplace  etc. But read between the lines, if your product is not different from the discount or package studio work you are not going to be able to compete on price.

Til next time


(If you want to read the articles about store studios email me at


August 15th 1994

Should we return to the moon ?

The question being asked on mans’ 25th anniversary of the first lunar walk.

Of course we can go, we have the technology, but is it an economical situation ?

Digital photography is at the same crossroad, yes we can take digital photos, scan and manipulate them to anything from plain paper to photographic paper, but is it economical ?

In certain situations such as big budget work, yes, it is the only away to go. But with every day situations it is wise to look at the traditional options.

I have just returned from PMA Australias’ annual convention where all the latest developments were talked about and the future looks exciting. But for now work hard at doing the work traditionally, make a profit and keep a close eye on the future.

Til next time





July 12th. 1994

Next Sunday Andrew Kopp does his thing, I hope as many of you as can will be there. It’s a seminar like this that will head off Uncle Harry and his Automatic camera.

Speaking of seminars I had a call from Wendy Griffith of Australian School of Wedding Photography. Wendy and her husband Bernie run a successful school covering all aspects of running a photography business. They would like to run a two day course here in Adelaide and would like an expression of interest. Could you please phone 316755 and ask for Amanda and give her your name and number if you are interested.

It seems I am pushing seminars and your right. It is attending thought provoking meetings, and talking to each other that will create new ideas. The other main ingredient is ACTION !

Marilyn and I went to the National Print Awards in Melbourne last month. It was a blast, lots of fellowship and good fun. Oh’ the awards were good too. Great to see such a high standard of work. At the venue the Industry put on an excellent Trade Show which added to the weekend. Take my tip, start planning for the Queen’s Birthday weekend next year, it is being held in Kings Cross so the entertainment could be interesting.

Til next month.




June 15th. 1994


The other night I heard Ted Johnson (of State Bank fame) speak on change. His position of coming in after all the State Bank troubles gave him no alternative but to focus on change.

His board constantly ask him what he has changed. Change for change sake is damaging, but controlled change with a future goal in sight is essential. He set about setting the bank goals, then implemented the changes.

How many of us are still doing business or taking photos the way we did in the 80’s. Our market place has changed we must too.

Gary Glenn once said ” If you keep doing what your doing, you will keep earning what you are earning.”

Lots to think about,





From Lifes little instruction book,

Winners do what losers don’t want to do.




May 15th. 1994

Last month Kodak held the first of a three part management seminar. The speaker spoke on marketing in the 90’s and was great, now all I have to do is turn some of the information into action.

On Wednesday July 13th. the second of the series, which is on customer service, will be held.

Also in July Atkins-Technicolour is sponsoring a day with Andrew Kopp. Andrew is a highly successful wedding photographer and is worth listening to, so mark Sunday July 17th in your diary now.

Atkins-Technicolour is trying to help you succeed, you have to be there to listen and act, for it is up to you how successful you are.

In the 90’s it is important for suppliers and customers to be in tune. Coles-Myer continually make demands on  their suppliers, Woolworth actually help with finance and training. As demand increases Australias’ low stocks and capacity to produce, will result in a shortage of product. Guess who will get e the best service ?

Til next time



April 15th 1994

A lot of professional photographers are using Mini Labs for speed and cost saving. This is okay as long as you watch your quality control. What sets your work apart from the Uncle Harrys is your consistency of quality. Mini Labs or retail Labs also charge a different rate of sales tax, BE CAREFULL.

Speaking of quality, its the consistency of a Pro Lab that makes your life easier. But this comes at an increased cost. Quality and service cost more and I’m afraid through the years Pro Labs have been too cautious of their opposition in pricing and have kept their prices down, while this is good for the Studios our profits have diminished.

Profit is needed for reinvestment and research and development, so you the customer keep up with new products and services to enable you to service your clients better.

I know of several Labs that haven’t adjusted their prices in over 3 years. Kodak and other manufacturers raise their material prices to us annually, this year Ilford had a whopping  rise of over 20%.

Last year due to our merger I only adjusted Atkins and Technicolour prices together , this with the sales tax increase gave you a small increase. This July 1st.sales tax again goes up, so along with with sales tax Akins Technicolour prices will increase to an average of between 5 & 8 percent (including sales tax)

Atkins Technicolour has a commitment to make your life and business successful. so with early notice to help you planning, and our efforts in keeping up with technology and new products, together we can succeed.

Yours sincerely,


From Lifes’ little instruction book,

” leave everything a little better than you found it ”


March 15th 1994

Professional Photography has turned the corner, Lab sales are stable and slowly rising. To you this means the customers are again out shopping. Don’t disappoint them, have your products or services attractively packaged and sell.

Atkins-Technicolour has spent 3 years getting ready for the customers to start spending again, and now under one roof we have the most comprehensive range of products in Adelaide. Make sure you take advantage of them all.

In case you didn’t know Atkins-Technicolour is chosen by the Grand Prix Board, and the International Press to process all the Transparency film during the Grand Prix. Comments during the Grand Prix by the Press are always GREAT SERVICE, or FANTASTIC QUALITY.


Til next time,     your thought from Lifes Little Instruction Book,

“Become the most positive and enthusiastic person you know”



February 1994

The 90’s march on. One of the critical areas to concentrate on for success is management.


Resources can be    TIME




Astute managers sort their businesses into departments, i.e.. wedding,family portraits, glamour, commercial, outdoor portraits, etc. Then focus on each department to improve their performance. Each area requires a different attitude and thinking.

Two other examples on focusing on your business might be,

PRICING.   When was the last time you bought something over $300 and didn’t wan’t a deal; Your customers are all looking for deals. Offer them bonuses on specials for a commitment to you. i.e.. a sitting when it suits you, reward them for an action.

MARKETING    The old 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers is true. The Airlines and other industries have woken up and we have frequent flyer and the such. Give your regulars a VIP card,or special offers for dealing with you.

Just a few thoughts to help you through the 90’s

Til next time.


From lives little instruction book

“Don’t let your possessions possess you”



January 1994

Hi, I would like to wish you all a prosperous and happy ’94

“The economy is recovering” thats what we all are hearing, how about you ? Well in lab figures are any indication it is passing us right by.


Photography is not perceived to be needed. When it is, there are so many alternatives. Do it yourself, Mini Labs, Pixie Photo, Schools and now in store studios.

If you are not setting yourself apart you may well be caught up in the concept you are too expensive.

I saw an Olan Mills package the other day 28×35 framed print for $15. A package of 20 odd prints, various sizes were offered for $65. Try and compete, forget it !

What you can do is offer service. They take 3 exposures in 3 minutes. No clothing changes, no variety of backgrounds or locations. The film is thrown away, no reprints. You must be ready and wait in turn for your 3 minute photographic session.

Now is the time to make your clients visit with you a positive experience as possible. Don’t think these marketers will not affect you, this type of business is only gathering pace.

By using your skills YOU can make this a great year.


John Atkins

From Life’s little instruction book

Promise big, deliver bigger






November 1993

Last month an article appeared in The Advertiser about the wedding day. The author takes you through the various services to help the reader form a picture of their wedding day.

When we get to her comments on photography I held my breath and decided on how to get even ! After thinking about it, it may be a perception people have of professional photographers.

Should we be booking formal time between, during or after for their posed photos, and shooting from the hip during the day – maybe with a 35mm.

The danger with this is unbalanced posing and lighting and an amateurish look. But if we are perceived to be interrupting their day posing photos it may be worth it. The way to produce professional images casually is practise, practise and more practise. With or without film it doesn’t matter as long as the camera becomes an extension of your hand.

Til next time,

John Atkins.

From life’s little instruction book      “Hire people smarter than you”


October 1993

Now the wedding season has started,don’t forget you can put black and white photos in your wedding albums using colour film. Just mark the selected colour negs on the masks indicating that you want black and white prints. This may be one way to put more pictures in your client’s albums.

I have enclosed our new price and services list. Don’t panic, I have been able to absorb most of Kodaks’ and other suppliers’ price rises and hold down your prices to only a few adjustments. The ones that will effect you most are 10×13, 14×18 and 10x8cm, the rest are rounded out to include the sales tax rise.

It’s Grand Prix time again and Atkins-Technicolour are installing a Mini Lab and having a special offer. Zoom in for these specials on your family snaps.

Til next time


PS. Don’t forget your Christmas promotions. They should be now ready to go.

From life’s little instruction book

” Spend less time worrying who’s right, and more time deciding what’s right.”


15th. September 1993

Hi from Atkins-Technicolour

Still got a few of the old letterheads left, sorry about the wrong address on the bottom, my story is i’m saving trees.

Over the past 2 years Marilyn and I have been building out the back, last week we got a bit carried away and attacked the front of the building. When the building is refaced with dark glass and the bricks rendered we will have a building to match our business progress towards and through 2000.

We havn’t forgotten our promise of an opening party , we are still 6 months off, Sounds like an announcement of the State Elections.

Winters over, and I mean not this winter but all the winters behind us. Talking and selling professional photography will never go back to what it was, nothing ever does. Myers’ Portrait Place and other volume discount companies will make you look at your products and images, and force you to set yourself apart.

For those photographers that make changes, winter is over, At the Royal Show this year I saw a return to the enthusiasm of the people that only SA can generate by living in such a great State.

Get out there, make the changes and end your winter.

John Atkins

From life’s little Instruction Book

“Be enthusiastic about the success of others ”



15th. August 1993

How much do you spend on advertising ?  1% or 5%

The percentage depends on your product and market image. A good simple idea could take a letter drop to succeed, another might take TV to bring the message home. There are no hard and fast rules.

5 Tips to help

1 Know your customer

2 know what your advertising program is to accomplish.

3 Develop a plan

4 Measure the response

5 Learn from your mistakes

When considering your budget on advertising an overall picture of your business is needed. If you are high traffic location rent becomes a part of your advertising. If you work from home, mobile phone, service clubs and other activities become part of your advertising.

When times are tough the easiest area to cut back on is advertising and research and development. These two areas are the future of your business. Low advertising lowers awareness, and not attending seminars like the AIPP run lowers your knowledge of new products and improval of existing ones. Your business will eventually die.


John Atkins

From Life’s Little Instruction Book

“Never go grocery shopping when your hungry, You’ll buy too much.”



15th July 1993


Still got lots of work to do before our official opening, but it’s already looking good. Work flow has never been smoother.

NOW is the time to get out there and pull those customers in. They are out there spending our money on other things. How about sending a complimentary studio sitting or outdoor sitting ( no free prints) to everyone who is celebrating a milestone. It may be friends or acquaintances or the list in the back of the Advertiser or local paper.

Once photographed, offer products such as mini prints for thank you cards, ATKINS-TECHNICOLOUR  minis’ are only $18 for 25 and come with sticky backs to mount then on their cards. Offer them portraits as gifts for their loved ones, passports for their next trip. Don’t stop there, keep thinking and offering.

Go for it.



From lifes little instruction book

“Don’t rain on other people’s parades”


June 15th. 1993

Wow !

Have we been busy bringing over 30 people together and keeping all our feathers unruffled. I hope our service to you has not been affected, in fact I hope it has been improved.

As we settle together services will improve and with our size we can keep our costs down and intern pass the savings onto you. Our 1993 price rise has been deferred until later in the year and will be minimal, only on selected products.

Atkins Technicolour is now in a position to provide full imaging services, and will continue to be the market leader.

Enough of the commercial, in Sydney last May my view on CD changed again. In Atlanta we were looking at around $3 a coast of a scan of a 35mm neg for amateur quality, I thought only a modest increase would apply for the pro scanner. In Sydney I was told a figure of $35 or more per pro scan would be necessary for a professional quality. So for us to be able to use this system for a method to increase our sales it has become very expensive.

If this is the case I believe the Pro CD will slow to become viable. Don’t worry, it will happen, but scanning times and costs have to come down further.

Til next month,

John Atkins.

From “Life’s little Instruction Book”

“Measure people by the size of their heart, not by the size of their bank account”


May 15th 1993


Hi !

When Atkins Imaging Group bought Technicolour in 1990 it was with the aim to be the best supplier of photographic processing in Australia

Over the past three years Technicolour’s building has been modified to take us into the new century.

Now on May 24th, the time has come for our next step. Atkins will be moving in with Technicolour to become Atkins-Technicolour and will be located at 89 Fullarton Rd. Kent Town.

The Atkins-Technicolour number is 31 6755 (Technicolour’s current number). A switchboard has been installed to ensure prompt service.

Our full service counter has easy off street parking, will have a rush drop off point and will be open from 8.00 a.m. until 5.30 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Looking forward to serving you are the crew in customer service…

Peter… Main … Alison … Janet… Paul… Mary… Lyn … Linette


in Atkins




June 15th. 1992

Hi !

As we head into winter I wonder what effect it will have on Studio sales, and in turn the Labs’sales. This could be a time to worry, but I am reminded of an article I once read that states, 80% of your worries never happen 10% are actually out of our control 5% did happen with a far less effect than predicted. So actually 95% of our worries are pointless.

With this in mind I want you to be objective about your winter months. Slow periods can be used for.

Budget planning (looking at Porsches)

Staff training (home videos)
Market research (check out your fellow photographers business) Promotional planning ( who to take out to dinner)
Redecorating (sweeping and dusting)
And much more.

Constant positive action will not only carry you through the winters of your life, but will also make your lows shorter.


15th. May 1992

In todays world businesses need to be proactive to the market place, ie. supplying what the customer wants.

Apart from free prints I believe our market needs faster turnaround.

To that point I have spent the last few months experimenting with one of my printers and have enabled it to print most sizes. This will in turn speed up our turnaround. As from the 1st, of July service times for machine prints will be, 3 days in the lab for 1st size, and one extra day per size, not another 3 per size as it is now.

We at Atkins hope this will help you speed up your delivery and increase your cash flow.

On July the 1st we will also be having our annual price adjustment, this year we have been able to keep it down to 5%, next year with inflation the way it is it may be even less.

On Tuesday at 5pm the trip to Perth to attend the A.P.P.A. Awards was drawn, and our lucky Photographer was Brian Newell of Dickinson Monteath Studio. Good Luck Brian !

Regards ,

John Atkins


15th. April 1992

How do you describe an optimist ? ( apart from a pain in the neck.)

Optimists are able to see good in bad situations. Pessimists can only see the bad in good situations.

Optimists believe they control their own destiny. Pessimists believe their destiny is determined by circumstances beyond their control.

Optimists learn from their mistakes and turn minor setbacks into victories. Pessimists turn them into overwhelming disasters.

Optimists see new technologies as the means to break new barriers and create new products and situations. Pessimists see them as hurdles in the way of tradition.

I know it is hard to remain an optimist in todays world of fast communication, where you are bombarded with bad news from around the world. But if you sit on the sidelines and not be a little optimistic, you will not work towards your long term goals. In fact you could turn into a full fledged pessimist.


PS I have enclosed a bit more info on Photo CD.

PPS. Keep the films rolling in for your entry in the draw to attend A.P.P.A. Awards (thats the old merit judjing)



20th. March 1992


My work schedule has become so hectic it has cut into my fun time. I know work is supposed to be fun but you know what I mean.

With this in mind I have asked Paul (my son)to help me in the sales area. His first idea was to give some money away. Well you know how I feel about money, so I wondered if he had picked up to many of my wife’s genes.

Anyhow here is his proposal, For every roll of film bought into Atkins for process and proof in April you will have a ticket in a raffle, to win a trip to Perth to attend the Australian Professional Photographic Awards on the 6th. and 7th. of June.

So during April bring in your films and place as many entries as you can into our competition.

Good luck,


PS. I have talked dad into 3 nights accommodation at the venue, the Freemantle Esplanade. Paul.



February 1992


Just returned from a week in America where I attended the Photo Marketing Seminar and Trade Show. Walking into the Trade Show after only 2 years since my last visit, took my breath away.

Electronic produced images and hybrid systems have arrived, and they will touch all our lives in the next few years.

Film will still be the capture method for most of us over the next few years, but the way the lab works will give you new business oportunities, as well as speed up delivery times.

The CD system will be an effective way of storing and transmitting images and will be a boom for slide libraries. Kodak have already preempted this by purchasing some of the largest slide libraries in the world.

Over the next 10 years we will far surpass the development of photography over the past 150 years.

With this in mind we can all look forward to increased and exciting opportunities.

I’ll try and keep you in touch,



15th. January 1992

’92 will bring more of ’91 with it. The difference will be in our attitude towards the times. Things will appear better, so in turn they will become better.

This year adopt the attitude CAN DO ! Customers will be more demanding, but will buy when they perceive value. Make sure you supply that value with added service.

Til next month.


PS. Don’t forget Valentines day.



15th. November 1991

Hi !

Christmas is just about on us. This year Atkins will be open on the Saturday before Christmas to enable you to sell right up to the big day.

This is a great gift giving time, use the emotion of photography as a gift to increase your sales.

Plan your marketing now, even include sales without viewing. During the week before Christmas offer to choose the image for your client so as to eliminate sales time.

Atkins will try to be as flexible as possible with their service times, so go for it !

Til next month,

John Atkins.


15th. October 1991

I have had a few comments about how negative my newsletters are. I apologise if they were taken that way, I guess thats why I’m not a journalist. I was trying to be positive.

Adelaide has over 1 million customers waiting to have their portraits taken it’s up to you to excite them I have been trying to warn you they may have changed their habits.

Promise a lot and deliver more. If you give a delivery time, make sure you are on time or early. Keep your scheduled appointments to time, think of how annoyed you get at the doctors. package the clients work with their name embossed on the box or wrapping. Have a welcome card at you door with their name on it.

Beef up your operation the way only you can do it. As Gary Glenns ‘ session taught us,



John Atkins

PS. At this time of the year we have a static problem. Make sure your camera and studio is as free of dust as you can make it. Keep those little black holes on your prints down to a minimum.


15th. September 1991


The last few months have been the lowest winter sales Atkins lab has seen for years. Apart from a few studios who are actively promoting glamour, portraiture has almost stopped.

Our turnover is now increasing due to the return of the spring bridal season.

I believe over the last 12 months we have had a correction to our business volumes, property values and living standards. Maybe the 80*s were too good ond over inflated our values.

Now the adjustment is over we must now learn to do business with the new rules. Trim your overheads, put extra personal hours in, lower your stock levels, get rid of all that stuff you were keeping in case someone would buy it and make a profit now.

Your customers have also had a lifestyle adjustment and they will be looking for value for their dollar. Make sure you are overservicing them. How about if they order a wall portrait, offering to visit their home to decide which frame would suit their decor. At the same time you could also advise on lighting their portrait and maybe even increase the size to enhance their room.

Til next  time,

John Atkins.



15th. August 1991

Just returned from the A.I.P.P. conference at Hobart. For those that remember the old Hypo conventions, it was just like them. Plenty of fellowship with some of the best photographers in Australia.

The main message was that everyone had consolidated their operations and now were working leaner than ever before. The danger is that as sales return you may tend to ease up. if you don’t you will have a period of good profits.

Hanimax ran a competition with their disposable cameras to find the best photograph taken over the three days. Some of the results were stunning, going to show its the person, not the camera that produces results. Technology cannot create fine images.

Spring is 15 days away, a new period with new opportunities, get your opportunities on the go now.

Til next month,

John Atkins.