For 33 years, Steve Khalaf has helped the Lake Houston area cherish its memories. The owner of Kingwood Photo Lab on Rustic Woods Drive found his passion in printing, restoring and archiving images and video when he ran a TV store in New Caney in the 1980s.
“That’s when personal video cameras became popular,” Khalaf said. “I had seen tourists in Jerusalem videotaping their travels, and I was fascinated by that technology. That was life-changing for me.”
The owner of Holiday Food in Kingwood invited Khalaf to open a photo-developing lab inside the grocery store alongside a flower shop, bank and pharmacy, he said. As foot traffic increased, Khalaf expanded to take over the pharmacy space and built a portrait studio.
“My wife and I took classes on photography—this became a real business for 5 years,” Khalaf said. “I wanted to do better, diversify and not depend on one source of income.”
Khalaf said his eagerness to learn new aspects of the trade helped him navigate rapid changes in technology in the photography industry since 1985.
Khalaf said the popularity of film photography began to fade in the mid-2000s. Up to 2011 he ran large printers with photo chemicals in his shop. Now, he uses a smaller machine for photo slides and back and white images.
After debating whether to revive the 1,580-square-foot Kingwood Photo Lab after it sustained flood damage during Hurricane Harvey in 2017, Khalaf pitched up a 1,200-square-foot shop in a new location that has less machinery.
Khalaf runs the shop with store manager Dylan Wilson, who has worked at Kingwood Photo Lab since 2003 and is the backbone of the business, Khalaf said.
“Dylan studied this technology; if he weren’t here, we wouldn’t be able to do a lot of stuff that we do for our customers,” Khalaf said.
Kingwood Photo Lab
4003 Rustic Woods Drive, Kingwood
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 9 a.m.-6 p.m., closed Sun.
Kingwood Photo Lab offers a variety of photograph services, including:
- Slide and negative printing
- Digital printing
- Film processing
- Photo restoration
- Photo book creation