Kacey Musgraves helps save Los Angeles-based retro photo business

Mostly, when we speak about Kacey Musgraves here, it’s about her fashion. But this is not a fashion post, although technically, you could say it’s a fashion photography post. Sort of. The short version is that Kacey was looking for someone to take her picture and ended up saving his business. The long version is that Kacey and her sister needed a One Hour Photo, for an unspecified reason, but they needed it quick. As most of the readers my age know, these places are hard to find. For younger readers, a One Hour Photo, besides being a very good, underrated Robin Williams film, is an establishment that you could take your undeveloped film to and have it developed in, you guessed it, one hour. They also are a go-to for passport photos when the post office lines are too long and other miscellaneous photo needs. The good ones had a variety of backdrops and props and a decent photographer when you wanted a few beauty shots. But they’ve gone the way of the dodo since people take photos digitally, edit them in Photoshop and print them at home. And the few that remain are struggling. Such is the case with Tom’s Photo & Lab on Beverly Blvd in Los Angeles. Or it was, until Kacey and her sister helped save it by posting the Instagram photos above with the following caption:

We were just in LA and needed to find a One Hour Photo place quick. Sandwiched between little bodegas, my sister randomly found this place on Beverly Blvd in Korea Town called Tom’s One Hour Photo & Lab. It’s one of those rare mom-&-pop gems that has lasted thru trends coming and going and weirdly has come back around again without even realizing it. The owner, Tom, was SO adorable. He not only does film developing but (cheap) and nostalgic portrait sessions too. (He gave us digital files and we edited these but he’ll shoot on film if you ask him to.) Pick your favorite background! He made them all himself. 🥰 It’s cash only and he has no internet. He sadly told us his business used to be really busy back in 1991 when he opened but has slowed way down since the digital wave. So, like any good millennials would do we started an appreciation Instagram for him. @tomsonehourphotolab 🌹 Not sure he’ll even see this. Stop by, tell all your friends, and don’t forget to tag. Let’s keep this charming business afloat! #TomsOneHourPhoto

This is using celebrity for good. Kacey has 1.6M followers who saw this and within the one week @tomsonehourphotolab account was created, it’s garnered 58K followers and a mention in the LA Times. And it worked! Folks showed up, got portraits done and posted them with the #TomsOneHourPhoto hashtag. Many of the photos have gone on the shop’s Insta page as well. Not to mention the patrons that left positive reviews on the almighty Yelp. Business has boomed for Tom and his family in just the few days of this going viral. So Kacey posted a follow up IG to thank everyone and suggest that maybe we could all find our “own Tom” to help out.

I don’t think my heart could be any more full. After randomly visiting Tom’s shop in LA with my sister and telling everyone about it, the response to his story has been so beautiful and overwhelming. Tom and his family are very happy and appreciative of all the new business that has come their way. Even through changing trends and times, his shop has lasted for 30 years. So, without us he was already doing something right. I’m just happy to see others happy and to see that humanity still loves to champion authentic people. And as unique as Tom and his shop are, there are soo many businesses just like his in all of your own neighborhoods. You walk past them every day without thinking twice about it. Find your own Tom. Go in and spend $5. Tell friends or leave a positive review on Yelp. That will bring them business for years to come. Challenge yourself to support them vs large corporations that may offer something similar or more “convenient.” The difference will be much more direct and meaningful. ♥️ Tom’s been everywhere lately!! It’s been hard to keep up!! The Insta account we made for him is going really strong and his family’s going to take it over soon: @tomsonehourphotolab
We’ve LOVED seeing everyone’s portraits they’re going and taking there and all the press and photos of new crowds of people visiting his shop. Keep tagging and just being so rad in general #TomsOneHourPhoto(photos taken by @shutterhappyjoseand @mrtimchan)

I love that the shop went from no internet to the family taking over the official Instagram account in seven days – that’s progress, folks. Seriously, though, I appreciate Kacey’s message here. I’m just as guilty as the next for thinking of big box stores before Mom and Pop shops when I need to grab something. I go to single owner places for services (like hair and nails. Not to mention I am currently putting my local plumber’s kids through college with pipe work!) but I need to be much better about supporting local vendors. So I’ll take Kacey’s $5 pledge and see how many places I can do so. Hell, I might even try to figure out my Yelp password and lend a hand there as well. Whatever I am able to do, it’ll be thanks to Kacey’s suggestion and brilliant use of her Millenialism. Take that, Boomers!




photo credit: Instagram and WENN Photos

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17 Responses to “Kacey Musgraves helps save Los Angeles-based retro photo business”

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  1. Ramona Q. says:

    59.3 thousand followers, not 58 million followers.

    • stokesout says:

      Yeah, that’s quite an error.

      • Jb says:

        Good lord they corrected and as noted Kasey has millions of followers and writer probably mixed up thousands/millions while writing one of many articles. Simple mistake, easy fix. —fellow imperfect writer

  2. virginfangirls says:

    I am guilty of shopping at big retailers. I’m a big Amazon shopper but have felt worse & worse about shopping there. I just recently went to a local bookstore and bought my books there. I might normally buy them online but have decided to make the extra effort to buy local. I applaud her for helping out Tom.

  3. Erinn says:

    This was a nice story, and she’s grown on me a ton lately.

    She reminds me a bit of Angelique Cabral in her looks.

  4. Sarah says:

    Sweet story. Not sure who she is (actress? singer?) but it was a very good thing to do. Simple, easy, smart and kind.

  5. Lisa says:


  6. film_forever says:

    I have to say this makes me so happy. I am a film photographer and seeing the love of film come back is incredible. I just finished teaching 2 back to back workshops with Kodak and it is not just millennials learning, is everyone of all ages. It is such a great medium and I am so happy for Tom’s photo lab and hope publicity like this helps all small businesses!

  7. LaUnicaAngelina says:

    This sweet story made me smile. ❤️

  8. Adrien says:

    I lost a very expensive digital camera while on vacation so I got a cheap ass lomo camera while on a holiday break. I find that I value the pictures more when they are printed. You can still have physical copies of digital shots but analog gives a much more vivid, quirky quality. It’s surprisingly still easy to find films for ancient cameras and shops that develops negatives even when abroad. They thrive because there are a lot of enthusiasts of vintage processing. The one nearby where I live has surprisingly very young patrons. I’d also like to add that One Hour Photo was an underappreciated movie. The casting of Robin Williams as the villain was genius and I got to see a naked Michael Vartan.

    • N says:

      Right? I still love analog photos too. I watch that movie every few years because it’s creepy and great.

  9. Christin says:

    Ah, the memories! When I was a child, my Mom sent undeveloped film to a processor in a neighboring town — by mail. I still remember the joy of seeing the fat little envelope of photos that would show up in the mailbox several days later. Later we had one-hour shops in the local mall.

    I can remember my HS photography teacher (who photographed weddings on the side) taking about how he always used two different shops for processing, just in case something went wrong or got lost.

  10. Amaria says:

    Unless these small photo labs adjust to modern times, they won’t survive anyway. They need to embrace sending pics via internet, IG-friendly print formats (squares, Polaroid shapes) and dry lab technology (it’s way more sustainable and eco-friendly than classic photographic chemistry, gives prettier prints and the photos last longer – at least Epson lab prints). This is just postponing the inevitable.

  11. ChillyWilly says:

    What a cool story! Kacey is so sweet to do this. I love that Tom made all those backgrounds himself!

  12. Carey says:

    What a lovely story! I live just a few miles away from Tom’s store so this feels particularly good knowing someone in my community is getting recognition.

  13. Green Desert says:

    Kacey is a good musician and she seems like such a solid person.

  14. N says:

    One Hour Photo is a damn good movie. I miss taking disposable cameras to the one hour photo shops and can’t wait to see Kacey in 2 weeks! Anyone in the Southeast be safe in this weather.