Local photo businesses adapt to digital age and exploit new possibilities

Shawn (left) and Todd Fitzpatrick of Artcraft Camera. (photo by Lynn Woods)

Artcraft Camera & Digital, located in Kingston Plaza, started out as a camera store in 1972. Rather than bite the dust, as many businesses specializing in the fossilized film industry have done, the store has flourished. It’s diversified into a wide range of products and services, from vehicle wrapping to framing to a range of personalized photo items, from mugs to name tags to pillows to purses. If a surface is printable, the store will likely be able to take your photo of your children, dog or favorite mountain view and transfer it.

Artcraft prints quality reproductions of works by local artists and also serves “a lot of people who are bringing in their images of friends or family,” said vice president Todd Fitzgerald. He noted images can be blown up and printed onto large, 40 x 60-inch archival posters or canvases.


The line between artwork and personal photos is increasingly blurred: people can bring in their photo and have it transformed into an art piece. Three full-time employees spend all their time on Photoshop, tweaking an image to convert it into a watercolor, Pop Art-style series or drawing (in the latter case, Artcraft actually hires an artist to do the digital drawing, which can then be further tweaked at the customer’s request).

Because the software programs aren’t flawless, the skilled artisans improve the image, which is then printed on coated canvas. Or metal, slate, aluminum or wallboard, often with decorative elements, such as a patterned background.

Forget the old-fashioned wedding album. Now you can have your wedding photos reproduced as placemats, on a child’s wooden blocks, or even blown up and wrapped over an entire wall and incorporating text, if so desired. “We’re getting out of just pictures and creating photographic home décor,” Fitzgerald said.

Because quality is so important, most of these items are printed in-house, with Artcraft keeping mugs, light switches, wine boxes, iPhone cases, name plates, and the many other items that can printed with your photos in stock. It also offers a variety of photo books and greeting card templates, with a choice of format, paper, and decorative framing devices. Often, people come in with a photograph and don’t have a clue as to what they want, he said. “We ask questions, such as who it’s for and how it will be displayed, then we select products that meet those needs, and they get ideas,” he said.

Artcraft also has kiosks where people can print out their digital images on archival prints that will last for 120 years. Or they can scan their old photos or transfer them onto a CD—basically perform every variation of digital to paper, paper to digital, and get help doing so if need be.

The fundamental difference between doing this at Artcraft and at a big-box store or chain drug store is the customized service and emphasis on quality, Fitzgerald said. “We’re a complete image solution, from the thought to the product,” he said.

Artcraft once served a localized base of customers but today it draws from a 50- to 60-mile radius. The Internet also has helped: a customer can go onto the company’s online store, choose a template for a printed product or greeting card, for example, and then visit the store to see the item without having to wait or pay for shipping. “Digital photography is all about instant gratification,” Fitzgerald said.

The company, founded by Glenn Fitzgerald and today owned by him in partnership with his two sons, Todd and Shawn, has 17 employees. It once had eight stores, but in recent years has consolidated to two, one in the Poughkeepsie Plaza Mall, as well as the 6,000-square-foot site at Kingston Plaza.