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Alabang couple turns Facebook photos into coffee table books

Alabang-based couple Pocholo and Ayee Ignacio discovered an innovative way of turning hundreds of photos stored on Facebook pages into high-quality coffee-table books at a minimal cost.

In an interview at a Greenbelt 5 restaurant in Makati City, Pocholo, a photographer turned entrepreneur, says the best way to preserve images is to have them printed, and printed at the best quality possible.

Ayee and Pocholo Ignacio

“It is the perfect way to preserve memories,” he says.    “Digital pictures can be lost.  Although you can have them uploaded on Facebook, the best way to preserve them is to turn them into a coffee table book.”

Pocholo is a former dive master and photographer, who contributed underwater images to such magazines as Mabuhay.  He worked with advertising and modeling agencies and shot wedding events on the side.  Ayee’s father is also a photographer.

As a photographer, Pocholo discovered that most local prepress were not able to meet the need of professionals for high-quality custom prints.  So, he established his own photography studio in 2006 in Mandaluyong City, before transferring to Muntilupa City in 2010.

“I was doing commercial photography and then some of our clients wanted me to do their wedding.  So I had a bit of wedding gigs also.  But I stopped doing photography because I had to focus on the printing side,” he says. 

Pocholo says as the photography business grew, so did the requirements for custom prints. He decided to establish a digital press to meet the demand.  He is now the president of Pixel 800 Inc., a digital prepress based at Madrigal Business Park in Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa City.  His wife, Ayee, serves as the vice president of the company, with six employees.  The couple have three children.

Pixel 800 specializes in coffee table book printing at a fraction of the cost of typical albums, says Pocholo. It has major corporate clients such as Art Post Asia of Singapore and prints coffee table books, corporate albums, annual reports, corporate planners, calendars, product catalogues, flyers, journals and brochures.

“One of our biggest achievements is to pass the standards of Art Post Asia, a publishing company based in Singapore.  They do the books of Malacañang.  They found it difficult to search for a prepress partner with high-quality services here.  They were looking for a company, and we got in touch with them.  They saw the quality of our work.  Since then, we have been doing the books for them.  We did books for Malacañang,” says Pocholo.

 “Basically, the company [Pixel 800] is a digital press. As a digital press, we are able to print everything, from the marketing collaterals to the usual business cards, but we specialize in the photo books, particularly the coffee table books,” says Pocholo.

“When we started, it was really the lack of service for print-on-demand.  There was no actual service.  We wanted to be able to provide that service and that’s how we started,” he says.

Pocholo says Pixel 800 initially served the need for print-on-demand services with professional-grade quality.  “This was initially directed towards professionals such as photographers.  But there was lack of good quality prints here.  Most of the services offered were in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, India.  That’s where they get good prints,” he says.

He says professional photographers mostly order five to 10 photo books, which they can show to agencies for their portfolio but they cannot get that kind of service from offset printers, which require bulk orders.

“Others want a special book for whatever reason, like personal book. For personal books, you cannot go to an offset printer, whose requirement is by the thousands.  Nobody would offer the print-on-demand service here.  The quality wasn’t there.  That’s what we studied,” he says.

Pocholo says Pixel 800 also aims to serve the consumer market and provide them with the same high-quality services that are currently enjoyed by corporate and professional clients. “There is a bigger market at the consumer level,” he says.

Ayee says they discovered the unmet demand among consumers for print-on demand photo albums and coffee table books when they began attending wedding exhibits. 

“We used to join exhibits before, like wedding expos.  When we joined the expos, our target then were the couples for their wedding books.  But during these exhibits, even the suppliers like the designers, make-up artists and photographers would come to us.  It turned out that we could cater to both groups—the couples and the suppliers. The couples, for their wedding books, and the suppliers for their wedding kits.  So basically, a lot of our clients now are the artists, designers, photographers,” Ayee says.

“The couples like the coffee- table-book type because it is lighter.  Back then, even our own wedding album is a very thick photo book,” she says.

Pocholo says the company now gives an alternative to wedding albums, in the form of coffee table book.  “A coffee table book is pretty normal to see.  We had a good request for that, and many asked us if we can do their wedding album.  We were able to provide an alternative to the typical wedding album.  That’s how it started,” he says.

This year, Pixel 800 established an online portal called Snapper.ph, which allows clients to upload photos and place an order for a personalized coffee table book containing the digital photos.  “You can have your own coffee table book for as low as P575 for a 32-page package,” says Ayee.  “It is inclusive of the delivery charge.”

“There are so many printing press, but the other press usually impose minimum orders.  If you need a personal book, you can’t order just one.  With snapper, you can order just one book,” she says.

Pocholo says there is a strong demand for instabooks or personalized coffee table books in the Philippines.  “We have a very strong drive for the coffee table books because we want to present an alternative to typical books that you see nowadays.  Wedding albums, for example, get very heavy.  So we thought of doing the timeless, classic coffee table book. It is time tested and it really works,” he says.

Pocholo says Snapper.ph bridges the gap between professional-grade books and the consumer books.  “Snapper.ph is able to serve the consumer level. That’s why Snapper.ph came, because we wanted to have a new identity for the consumer side.  We had a lot of requests for print-on-demand type of books and they wanted the quality that we had for the professional level.  So we just bridged that gap,” he says.

“Basically, Snapper.ph simplifies everything.  If you don’t know how to start your own photo book, just upload your own pictures on our site and you can get Inspiration from the templates,” he says.

Pocholo says to make it easier for consumers to place their orders, Snapper.ph has features that allow them to do so.  “We developed snapper to create a new identity that would cater to the consumer grade requirement of photobooks. It was established in 2014,” he says.

“Snapper is still in its infancy but the engagement is quite overwhelming.  I honestly did not expect that we would get that much hits.  We started advertising it just a month ago, and our reach now is hundreds of thousands in terms of hits.  We started with Muntinlupa only.  We did not even go full-scale yet.  The reception is overwhelming.  We are very optimistic about the whole thing.  We already delivered some products and the customers are pretty happy about it,” he says.

He says aside from coffee table books, they also deliver instabooks, portfolio kits, flipbooks, wedding books, invitations, customized calendar, photo prints, stationary, among others.

Pocholo says Snapper.ph aims to revolutionize the print-on-demand business by lifting the minimum orders for prints imposed by other printing press.  “With Snapper.ph, you can order a single coffee table book,” he says. RTD

Topics: Facebook , coffee table book , Pocholo , Ayee Ignacio
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