Dan's Camera City

By Kathryn D’Imperio

Cameras and photography equipment allow people to capture incredible moments while photographs preserve those memories for a lifetime. Photography is a business of true emotion, and Dan’s Camera City in Allentown has known this all along. The key focus of the business has always been delivering exactly what the customer needs through knowledgeable salespeople and attentive customer service.

Founded in 1977 by Dan Poresky, Dan’s Camera City began with a small storefront in a residential area used for buying and selling used cameras. In time, the business grew and Poresky expanded it to include new cameras and equipment, and around 1994 the store moved to its current 15,000-square-foot location on Fairmont Street in Allentown. In 2003, around the same time Dan’s won “Dealer of the Year” for photo specialty, two long-time employees, Director of Operations Mike Woodland and Senior Buyer Kevin Harayda, purchased the business from Poresky and carried on the legacy of Dan’s Camera City.

Evolving with Technology

“New technology makes it easy for people to take and enjoy pictures,” says Mike Woodland, explaining that Dan’s Camera City has seen it all, from box cameras to 35mm to point-and-shoots, and of course, everything from the digital age. “Each of these technological waves of ease—of use, better quality and simplicity—grow the number of people in the photography market significantly. It makes people feel better about taking pictures.”

Woodland explained how the advent of the digital camera gave Dan’s Camera City a chance to further position themselves asexperts, offering specific solutions and advice to each customer as often as needed. Even with the recession and changing of the times, Dan’s remained in business while other camera stores and processing labs went under.

“We’ve been fortunate because we offer great customer service, superior value, and most importantly, the right solutions for your needs and challenges,” Woodland says. “In 1995 when I started, we had 28 employees, and now we are up to 60 full-time staff. We’ve been very fortunate to have a good means for what we have to offer and what to do with it. Unfortunately, a lot of labs and camera stores haven’t been able to weather that change. As the marketplace has changed, our competition is coming from all new places and is much more diverse, operating on larger scales. We are nimble, family-owned and operated, here every day, and we see what is going on with the business. We are very in touch with our customers.”

New and Improved Ways to Capture and Preserve Memories

With the advances in technology, new offerings constantly become available in the photography world. Some popular products and services at Dan’s include photo booth rental for special events, photo processing including gallery wrap-style prints, and even iPhone photography classes showing how to get beautiful 8×10 photos from your phone.

“The Olympus TEN camera is one of the most popular models in stock,” says Mike Woodland, noting that it is a really great camera for family picture taking, offering the feature set of an interchangeable lens camera, but smaller in size like a point-and-shoot. Woodland’s background is in photography and he especially enjoys participating in the store’s photo expeditions. One example of an unforgettable annual photo excursion involves a winery tour, wine tasting, catered lunch, instruction from a food photographer, and a photo shoot at the Lehigh Valley’s Clover Hill Winery.

Photography classes are another popular option at Dan’s. Last year the store filled 2,500 seats for classes and this year is on target to far exceed that number. Classes can range from three one-hour seminars to multi-week classes and photo expeditions (like the Clover Hill trip) that take place first in the store and then at a themed venue on another day. Customers can also take advantage of the free weekly seminars, “Tips & Gear,” which offer instruction on techniques and discounts on the featured photography gear reviewed in the sessions.

Dan’s Camera City is expanding its holiday offerings through Santa photos in partnership with The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley. Staff from the store will run the Santa photos at a professional setup a notch or two above the standard mall Santa photos. Additionally, fire truck photos with Santa will be available at the store in November, with proceeds being donated to the participating volunteer fire company. Five or six other locations will be available, including Easton, Northampton, and Trexlertown, to name a few.

In maintaining the very principles under which Dan’s Camera City was founded, the staff still encourages customers to ask questions and seek advice on anything related to cameras, photography, and even their own photos and prints.

“Bring in any photo you have interest in and we will give you recommendations based on our experience,” Woodland offers. “It can be overwhelming to choose; we have people come in with 50 to 200 photos and when they are your photos, you are usually personally attached to them. We try to help narrow down the choices; we are very consultative. We don’t expect you to walk in the door knowing exactly what you want.”

Kathryn M. D’Imperio is a writer and photographer who particularly enjoys taking photos of her Border Collie, Moko. She shoots with a Canon 20D and a compact Canon Elph.

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