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At 73, Chuck Wolf has returned to the photo business with his Photo Design Bar in part, he says, because “I really enjoy talking to people.”

By Kevin Madigan | kmadigan@atljewishtimes.com

Chuck Wolf, one-time king of national camera retailers, is back with a new concept store designed to accommodate technology that didn’t exist when Wolf Camera was an industry powerhouse.

Chuck Wolf’s Photo Design Bar offers a whole range of services for shutterbugs of every ilk, including turning digital images into prints, art and other objects and converting prints into digital archives.

The entrepreneur’s re-emergence in the photography field has raised a few eyebrows, considering the demise of his previous business. Wolf Camera went bankrupt in 2001 and was taken over by Edward Ritz, the founder of Ritz Camera and a relative of Wolf’s. But that company also failed, largely because of the advent of smartphones with built-in cameras.

“I merged with my cousin when I had to. Digital came around, and we weren’t selling as much. Also, I had bought Fox Photo, but it was not the right time to buy. A lot of people got out due to digital,” Wolf said during an interview at his new store in Buckhead.SIM-PhotoBar1

“I knew it was coming, but I didn’t think it would come that quickly,” he replied when asked if he had been alarmed at the rising popularity of the mobile devices that undermined Wolf Camera. “Camera sales were low-profit anyway, but you had to have them.”

Wolf got out of the photography business for a decade and started an advertising and marketing company called WC+G Ad Logic, which is thriving and where he still works a lot of the time. “Our biggest account is Kauffman Tire. Has been for eight, 10 years. We do all their advertising for them,” the affable 73-year-old said. “I don’t give up my day job (at Ad Logic), but I’m here a lot because I really enjoy talking to people.”

The Photo Design Bar has a multitude of choices for customers.

“Right now there are billions of images taken every day, and lot of them are not being printed. Before, you had to print them to see what the result would be. Now it’s great because they can pick out the right picture before they turn it into us, and we turn it into art,” Wolf said. “We print better quality than anybody, and we care about it. That’s our goal. We all used to put photos in albums. Now we can do photo books where you can write whatever you want to, do different sizes in the same book, be creative.”SIM-PhotoBar45

Wolf said many of his customers are transferring photos onto canvas and using them as wall art, which is quite a bit cheaper than buying paintings. Classes in Photoshop and editing are available, and old photos can be restored, enlarged or put on another surface.

“We put your pictures on mugs, bags, clothing. We just did a lamp the other day. It’s the creation of art décor. We can do anything,” he said. “At Wolf we always worried about selling more cameras, more film. Now we sell a service, and we’ll hold your hand through the whole thing.”