Lake Highlands is losing one of its staple businesses, but in return will be getting something better.
At least that’s what owner I.D. Walker hopes.
He’ll soon be closing his MotoPhoto film processing and portrait studio in Plaza Rios Shopping Center, but opening Picture Perfect – a film processing and portrait studio – in the same shopping center.
The new studio will be larger and will provide more services, Walker says. And by shedding the MotoPhoto franchise, Walker says he can offer more services.
“This location is an innovative step,” Walker says. “Status quo doesn’t work with me. We’re always trying to improve, come up with better ways to do things. That kind of focus means you’re always changing.”
Walker got into the photography business in 1980. He had worked for Arthur Andersen as a specialty retail consultant and saw the one-hour photo development labs working in California.
He took his own advice and opened a store – Picture Perfect Studios – in his own neighborhood of Lake Highlands.
In 1983, Walker bought into the MotoPhoto franchise and had as many as 21 stores at one time. He since has sold all but three of the stores and is concentrating efforts on his home store in Lake Highlands.
“I’m trying to get to a point where we have one location to focus all our attention on,” Walker says. “I guess at my age, I figured I would be more successful operating one location and being there all the time.”
Initially, Walker’s business was only photo processing. But because of customer inquiries about portrait services, he opened a one-hour portrait studio in the late 1980s.
“There’s a fairly major market segment that’s not addressed,” Walker says of his portrait clientele.
But what his Lake Highlands store is the most famous for is something Walker lucked into. For a hobby, he started photographing Lake Highlands football games, with no intention of selling his work.
One day, the mother of a Lake Highlands student was in his store and saw the pictures. He had a picture of her daughter, and she offered to buy it on the spot. Walker told her the photos weren’t for sale, packed them up and went home.
A few hours later, the store manager called him and told him to bring the photos back. The story of their existence had spread, and parents were flooding the store to see them with hopes of buying.
“It just took off,” Walker says. “All of a sudden, we were in the sports photography business. It was like the Friday night heroes.”
Soon Walker became responsible for shooting all the school’s functions, and the store became known as the place to go for photos in Lake Highlands. And this year, Picture Perfect will be the official photographer for Berkner High School.
The business has been more successful than Walker ever expected.
“I think it’s because of our involvement in the community,” Walker says. “We have a very distinct product. And I enjoy doing it. It allows us to be involved in those activities that we see as wholesome for the kids.”