Credit Pro Photo’s owner, Dickran Baghdassarian, for mastering the adaptation necessary to outlast the competition. Born in Ethiopia, he came to Washington from Addis Ababa in 1970 and worked as a technician for the long-defunct National Camera Company. After nine years, his brother Sebouh joined him, and the two broke off to form their own sales and repair business. These days, Dickran’s daughter Sally works there, too.
The business thrives on repairs. Working with a troubled camera, Baghdassarian looks like a master trainer coaxing along a skittish horse. Sometimes just a light, skillful twist will solve the problem. Alas, as the industry’s changed, Pro Photo has also had to branch out into passport photos, headshots, and high-end merchandise for the colleges and hobbyists who still use the machines. “We do a little bit of this and a little bit of that to keep our heads above water,” Baghdassarian says. “This is a tough business to be in, but we’re still here.”