Sunday, July 11, 2010

To Print or Not to Print...

For several years, I couldn't decide whether or not to invest in a large format printer. Printing costs for a professional photographer can be extremely high. If you like printing your images on canvas, printing costs are ridiculous. This makes your costs really high which in turn mean that the price you pass along to your client is very high as well.

The good news is if you print at least weekly, in my experience purchasing a large format printer is definitely worth it. The day I set up my printer, I was instantly printing better paper prnts than the best professional printer in town. Your printer is calibrated to your monitor, so what you see is what you get. In the case of a professional printing company, they get a file and they more or less guess at what the colours should be. This may make the prints fairly close, but often not nearly as close as you would like. Now that I am printing my own work, I control the papers used, the colours and I don't have to drive across the city to approve a print, then again to pick it up.

The bad news is that there is definitely a learning curve involved when dealing with stretching canvases, but once you find the canvas that you like, learn how to stretch canvases so that your corners are perfect and find the canvas treatment that works for you, your costs drop by about 80%. At the end of the day, that is what makes me happy! The best part about stretching canvases, is that I can print up 20 canvases for an exhibit. When the exhibit is over, I can take the canvases apart that don't sell and re-use the stretcher bars on my next exhibit.

If you haven't printed on canvas before, sharpen your image just a little bit more than you would otherwise. Canvas prints show your image a little bit softer than photo paper. That is why the canvas look is great for wildlife, because you aren't usually looking at many sharp edges when you are looking at fur. That being said, I have had many city sky line canvases done as well and they have been great sellers, so I suppose it comes down to a matter of personal taste. Some of my favourite animals to print on canvas are tigers, leopards, lions, cheetahs, foxes, wolves, bears and especially polar bears.

Below is a typical picture that would look great on canvas. Deer are a soft subject and you just want to cuddle a deer fawn. They are just too cute!

So, to print or not to print? I suppose it depends how much printing you intend on doing, how much of a perfectionist you are and how much you are interested in learning a new trade. Personally, I have really enjoyed it. I bought a 44" printer, I try to print weekly and I have really enjoyed creating prints from shutter to print. Now I am thinking about learning the framing trade. I think there will be a big learning curve there and framers charge an arm and a leg! Hmmm, to frame or not to frame... Anyone have any suggestions?

Check out our main wildlife photography website and our Kenya/Tanzania blog