Francisco Garcia, since 1989 in the Zona Rio.
Francisco Garcia, 63 years, owns the last analogic photo lab in Tijuana. His business had been offering its services since 1989 on the same spot; La Plaza del Zapato in the Zona Rio Tijuana. But this year he couldn’t keep the business open any longer due to Covid.
After finishing his studies in Guadalajara as electronics engineer, he moved to Ciudad Obregon in Sonora where he got a job as maintenance assistant he found advertised in the newspaper. .
“They told me I got the job, so when I showed up to work the first day, I realized that my job was in a photography lab. I was 28 years old, but since 14 I was a big fan of photography.
He learned the entire printing process and got specialized fixing bulb machines. His bosses sent him to study in Mexico City.
He ended up in Tijuana because a company from Guadalajara hired him to set up a photo lab. “I had it to go to Los Angeles to buy the machines, hire employees, train them, make the bureaucracy and permissions with the municipality,” Francisco said. “But I just spent a couple of years there because they told me I couldn’t have a higher position.”
"I can survive with 3,000 pesos because I have my own house."
He decided to begin his own photo lab, FotoColor. He got to 10 employees a couple of months after he opened the shop. The biggest Tijuana newspapers used to go there to develop their photos. “Newspapers as El Heraldo, Zeta, and Notimex, the federal news agency.
Throughout 32 years he managed to survive the arrival of Costco and Kodak in the digital photo era. “The transition period to the digital era in Tijuana was mainly in 2007/2008. We managed to purchase digital equipment and survived. But with the pandemic and all the public events like weddings etc., forbidden, we’d struggle a lot."
He held on one year paying the rent, but at the beginning of 2021, he got behind two months on his payments; 12,500 pesos ($600 USD) a month. And after 32 years in the same spot, the landlord required him to vacate the place in 14 days.
“I used to pay $3,000 USD on private school tuition when two of my sons were in CETYs University. Now I can survive with 3,000 pesos because I have my own house.... My idea now is to open a photographic development workshop open for the public. Analogic photography is bouncing back up with the youth...."