Chinatown Photo Studio -- Last of a Dying Breed?
to serve niches. In San Francisco’s Chinatown, which has also seen a drop in photography studios, some businesses are buoyed by the unique needs of a specific clientele.
Jason Studio's owner and photographer Jason Hu, told the Sing Tao Daily that his business on
Stockton Street was still thriving. That’s because he specializes in family portraits, which many local Chinese families still insist on being professionally taken during important events, such as Chinese
New Year, family reunions, birthdays and graduations.
The demand for family photos in Chinatown is still great, Hu says, especially among Chinese elders, who view visits to the photo studio as a major part of family gatherings. Hu says, in addition to passport photos, more than 90 percent of his business comes from family portraits. The demand for the family photo – increasingly seen as a symbol of family unity -- has grown as younger generations move out of Chinatown.
Having owned the business for two decades, Hu says he has seen the ups and downs in the industry, which is continuing to shrink. In Chinatown in the last decade, the number of photography studios has fallen from more than 10 photography studios to just two major ones, including Hu’s.
Hu says he digitalized all his equipment 10 years ago, but he believes his clients value his work not only because of his photographic expertise, but also because he understands the "Asian-style"
arrangement for family photos, such as placing seniors and infants at the center of the photo to express respect to elders and to welcome new family members.