It’s Good to Go Local

I was going over some of the supplies I would need for next week’s Help Portrait shoot that I am participating in and I found that I needed some new background paper.  I didn’t want anything huge so I started looking up medium-sized paper rolls (hauling around a 107″ roll of paper can be a real pain in the butt).  I found some options online for 79″ white paper rolls but I wasn’t sure if it would be delivered in time for the shoot and I didn’t want to spend a small fortune on express shipping.  That’s when I remembered Ace Photo.

They came highly recommended to me by my buddy Mike Palmer so I Googled their website and started browsing through their studio supplies.  Sure enough, they had just what I wanted in stock so I waited for the snow to ease up a bit and headed down the road to check it out.  When I got there, I was pleasently surprised at the depth of merchandise that they carried in their store.  It’s a little off the beaten path for me but it was so worth the trip.  Not only did they have the background paper that I wanted but also a bunch of other stuff that really got my wallet to itching.  There was one other thing that I really had to love about their store and that was the fact that they had all three of my books prominently displayed in their photo book section.

So the moral of the story here is that you shouldn’t just automatically turn to the Internet for all of your photography needs.  There are a lot of stores out there like Ace Photo that not only have the equipment and supplies that you need for your photography, but also offer competitive pricing and the knowledgeable staff that can guide you to finding just what you need.  For those of you that live in the Northern Va/DC area, I highly recommend that you take a drive out to Ashburn and see all the great stuff and helpful staff over at Ace Photo.  You can find out more about all of the great products available at Ace as well as their in-store class schedule by visiting their website.


  1. Did you stop into Redskins Park while you were out there?

  2. Hey Jeff,

    Do you know if Ace does sensor cleaning and or lens repair? Been looking for a local shop but Strauss Photo in DC is just terrible.


    • Ryan, I’m not sure if they clean sensors but it wouldn’t surprise me if they did. I did notice though that they carry sensor cleaning products in the store. Personally I wouldn’t pay someone to clean my own sensor when it’s really not that hard to do. If you are a subscriber to Kelby Online Training you should check out Laurie Excell’s class. She really takes a lot of the mystery and fear out of the process.

  3. I like the idea of buying locally, but the reality is always difficult to handle. Truth is, at least for an experienced photographer, local shop prices are terrible compared to online and service is rarely more than I would get from visiting Consider camera bodies. I bought a Canon 40D kit 18-months ago.
    Amazon/B&H – $1,100
    Best buy – $1,250
    Local Shop – $1,350(list price)

    I got Best Buy to knock $100 off the price and got free 18-month financing. Done deal. The local shop wouldn’t budge. I understand having to stay in business, but $200 is the cost of a new 430EX flash (online, of course). I have needed things in a pinch and occasionally the local shop will come through, but usually it doesn’t work out.

    • Dustin, I don’t disagree that there are certain items that will undoubtedly cost you less online, like cameras. Usually because the big retailers are dealing in bulk. Many of the chain camera stores such as Ritz are working with smaller profit margins so they might be less inclined to give you a break in price. I’m also not suggesting that every small camera store is full of super-knowledgeable salesmen but there are local stores where the staff really does know what they are doing. Ace is one such place, as is Penn Camera. These types of stores are great finds and can save your butt when you need something now.

  4. I’ve shopped Ace for a while. They have a great selection and it’s hard to walk out without buying just a little extra. They aren’t alway the least expensive, but they know their stuff and they generally have it in stock. Sometimes I don’t want to wait on the Fedex guy or pay the extra for overnight shipping. Ace is a great solution. Penn Camera is very good too and they have multiple stores from which to choose. They just don’t have the selection that Ace does.

  5. I think Ace is a good shop. I’ve gotten several very fair deals there, and when B&H was out of stock of 105mm 2.8 (I was shocked), Ace had one, and Jay set it aside for me. Good, friendly service is worth a few extra bucks.

  6. Thanks for plugging the “local” idea. Personally I own a small “local” print reproduction shop and I’m more then competitively priced with many of the online printers. Recently a big “bonus” came my way. A local college professor tried me out, and now recommends my shop to his students above the big online names. What made the difference? The fact that I go through color matching with clients prior to print. They really get to see what they’re getting, no surprises.

    I do agree with Dustin on shopping local being hard at times. A favorite camera shop in Sedona has almost everything I need, but prices are much higher. I shop with them as much as I can, but sometimes just can’t do it. When the price difference on a flash online and in a store is more than $100 I have to go with the cost savings.

    So, try to shop local, but remain a smart shopper. 🙂

  7. I like Photo Craft in Burke VA as well. Great prices (they compare their pricing to B&H, Adorama, etc. and adjust accordingly) and their service is up there. is the URL.

  8. +1 on PhotoCraft.

    Got my 35 1.8 AFS from their Burke store the next day after it was made available by Nikon – all the big stores were serving pre-orders at that time and it was impossible to get one from anywhere else.

    They also price-matched a Tamrac bag with Adorama. Highly recommended!

  9. Darrin,

    That’s where I got my 35/1.8 as well. Nobody had it, they had one left. It was morning and I couldn’t get there til afternoon, so called and asked about it. They said to order online and put a note for store pickup. Got to the store, it was waiting for me. They removed the shipping the website added, and I was on my way.

    Have bought other things from them as well, and have always been happy. Not a big place, but they have a lot of stuff!


  10. Yeah no biggie on the sensor, I was more concerned with lens repair, sometimes I don’t have 3-4 weeks for Nikon and Strauss butchered a job so I was trying to find someone local that repairs, save some rental bucks during the season.

  11. Pete Packard I says:

    It’s nice to see one talk about the merits of a local shop. I have bought cameras and lens from Mo and always gotten a more than fair deal. If you need it he probably has it. I worked for several local Camera store in the 70’s and 80’s and Ace is the closest to what stores used to stock and one is able to get truthful advise.


  1. Alltop says:

    It’s Good to Go Local Photography.alltop

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