Contact Photo Lab is a fine art photography collaborative workspace and one of the last standing independent darkroom facilities for traditional photographers in Los Angeles, California. It is also one of the many small companies that took a big hit from the COVID-19 pandemic. From the beginning, the company saw itself as a service for the community, from professional photographers to students.
The photo lab specializes in developing black and white film, as well as using large-scale digital printers to convert small images. For more advanced professionals, the company helps photographers present their work in museums and galleries throughout Los Angeles and globally.
The pandemic forced many businesses, classified as non-essential, to close, including Contact Photo Lab—making its chances of surviving financially, unclear.
"We were totally shut down, and we couldn't allow customers to come to us during the pandemic.” Founding Partner Michael Gotz said. "We were faced with […] financial difficulties, not having any revenue for at least two and a half months."
Foreseeing the worst-case scenario for the business, Gotz knew he had to focus on how to pay rent, payroll and utilities. The most important aspect of this new dilemma was how to protect their employees and their families financially.
"They are not just employees. They are part of our family and part of our team," Gotz said. "We were extremely worried."
After receiving funding from the Paycheck Protection Program from California Bank & Trust (CB&T), Contact Photo Lab could sustain their business and take care of their own.
Since 2013, CB&T and Contact Photo Lab have worked together to help make sure their financials are crystal clear.
"In my experience, CB&T is a community bank with bankers and tellers that know me by name," Gotz said. "When I walk in the door, they seem genuinely glad to see me. When I go to the larger institution where I still do have some personal checking and banking accounts, they don't know me. They don't really care. I'm not going to say they're callous or anything, but they're professional and institutional. I just don't get the level of welcoming that I get with CB&T." [cite::171::cite] [cite::172::cite]