Nigel McNaught of PPLA offers members some thoughts on printing your output.
Just as many amateur photographers are turning away from home printing due to time, cost and quality issues, so too are professional photographers rethinking their approach to the processing and printing aspects of their work.
To print, or not to print, that is the question
This is a good time for photographers to be thinking about image processing. The initial hullabaloo and 'new gadget' novelty attached to digital photography having abated somewhat, it has simply become an alternative medium to film. Similarly, the hype about photographers managing their own processing - be that digital or film - has now settled down, and the concept can be considered pragmatically.
For many photographers, the idea of printing out their images via a digital printer behind the studio appealed more because they were suddenly able to do so, than because there was any real benefit to it. The only argument which has any real merit in favour of using an in-house printer is that it is immediate, though even that aspect can be detrimental to the business. How often do tutors and seminar leaders point out the benefits of having the client return to the studio on a separate occasion to view proofs under conditions of the photographer's setting and choosing?
Some photographers may argue that they prefer the degree of control which they can exercise by handling their own output. Well, that is fine if they have all the knowledge and expertise usually only found in a specialist technician or printer working for a professional lab. If they do not have that degree of ability, even if certain desired aspects are achieved, the overall quality is surely going to suffer.
Then again, if the photographer achieves the perfect print, how long has it taken to produce? How long has been spent in front of a computer applying the multitudinous aspects of Photoshop or other imaging software to reach the final product?
Is it not better to allow that professional lab with the specialist technician to produce the print, allowing the photographer to get on with what he or she does best, viz: capturing the images in the first place? That is, after all, why the photographer is in business, applying those talents and skills in creating wonderful pictorial results.
For most photographers, establishing a relationship with a lab covers more than just having their images printed. It creates another aspect to the business - another avenue from which to gain insight into the market, and ideas for promoting new services to clients.
That is certainly a benefit well recognised - and much valued - by SWPP member Gary Walsh of Gary Walsh Photography, Teeside. "Apart from all the other benefits, my close relationship with the lab I use keeps me in touch with the market," he says. "They are able to inform me of local trends, which aspects of the market are buoyant at any particular time, and keep me updated on the latest styles and presentation ideas which are proving popular so that I can incorporate them into my own offerings to my clients."
It is an aspect echoed by Debbie Wilkinson of Debbie Wilkinson Lifestyle Photography, which has two studios in Hull. "We are an extremely busy company," she says, "handling around 100 weddings a year, along with studio portraiture and other work, so I just do not have the time to be looking out for new presentation ideas and styles."
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