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E.B. Luce: Saluting a Pioneer

The nation’s oldest commercial photo studio shows no signs of aging

By Toni McQuilken

From humble beginnings to high-profile clients, E.B. Luce, the nation’s oldest commercial photographic laboratory, has always been on the cutting edge. They were founded by Edwin B. Luce in 1881, who took his inspiration from Civil War photos. He started the business with a portrait studio, where he had to make all of his own film, paper and supplies (Kodak had not been founded yet – that wasn’t until 1888).

In 1981, when the E.B. Luce Corp. turned 100 years old (Edwin Luce died in May 1938), the Worcester Historical Museum displayed Edwin’s images in a Centennial Photographic Exhibit. Taken from his photographs, a 16-foot high mural of Main Street was constructed to transport visitors back to Edwin’s time. In addition, a life-sized reconstruction of his Worcester studio was built into the exhibit, complete with studio props, camera equipment, and a skylight – a crucial source of sunlight for printing proofs in those early days of photography.

Today, E.B. Luce has evolved into a powerful force, becoming a leading provider of wide-format digital graphics and photo murals, as well as point-of-purchase materials and vehicle graphics. Their client list includes Armani, Chanel, Guess and Bose. They currently employ 22 people, with the average length of employment being 15 years.

Getting it Right
According to the company CEO, Barry Berggren, all jobs, no matter how large or complex, are turned around in a maximum of four days. The company uses Xinet’s FullPress and WebNative software products to allow customers to view their proofs online, make image selections and order new jobs (if they are a current customer). Although they can and do use the live proofing features to allow clients to see and make changes to jobs online, they still require a matchprint or color proof for about 10 percent of their customers.

"E.B.Luce has been an innovator from the beginning...Quality, customer service and innovation has always been our trademark. This is what keeps our customers coming back year after year. Some of whom have actually been doing business with us since the 1800’s," said Berggren

They still have a few customers who submit film, but for the most part the company has switched to an entirely digital workflow, allowing them to speed the process up even more. The equipment E.B. Luce is currently using includes the Océ Lightjet 5900; Océ Lightjet 430; MacDermid ColorSpan XII; MacDermid ColorSpan Display-maker 7100; and Encad Ilfostar Nova-jet 700i.

All in all, E.B. Luce has grown with the times and continues to grow and adapt to new technology and new trends in photography. This is one company that has not only survived the test of time, they have thrived on the challenge.

 Apr2004, Digital Output

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