Thursday, November 5, 2009

Expanding your palette for photo prints (part 1)

Blame it on the really nice stereo system I got when I was 14, but I just can't listen to my ipod without expensive headphones. The same thing happened to a friend's wife, but with chocolate. A few months in Paris developing a refined palette, and now she can't order chocolate cake in most restaurants. It happens to everyone. Sometimes it leads to what we call "expensive taste." In children we usually dismiss it as "being picky." For the ill-mannered, it turns into snobbery. But for the polite, it is an expression of appreciation, of gratitude for good work.

When you look at a painting, do you see the picture or the strokes? When you look at a photo, do you notice the paper? the type of process? If you're an editor and you read my blog, you probably notice that I have an ongoing battle with punctuation. But hopefully (comma or no comma?) that doesn't get in the way of the message.

Since I'm spending a month about everything but the image, I thought I'd start with a look at printing processes and papers. My view on the choices is like my view on chocolate. I love a good Michel Cluizel bar, but I won't turn down a Hershey's kiss either. Each has its place (and that place is currently around my expanding waistline). And so while I would never criticize someone for liking Hershey's, that doesn't mean I don't think they're missing out if they haven't tasted chocolate from a plantation in Madagascar where mangoes once grew.

One of my goals this month is to look at the range of possibilities for printing your photos. Some will be cheap and readily available, some will be more expensive and more involved. There's a place for all of it, and I don't think that the most expensive is necessarily the best solution. The point is to explore the options. What's out there? How much does it cost? Would you want to try it?

When I first started my photo business, I was really into different kinds of paper. I offered various high-end art papers at an extra cost, but soon learned that most people really couldn't care less if their photo were printed on a nice heavyweight Hahnemühle cotton rag or on a basic Epson paper. It took me a while to put the paper back into perspective with the purpose. Just because one paper might be more expensive or better for art prints doesn't mean it is always the right choice.

Nevertheless, I have to warn you. Exploring your options can be dangerous. Keep reading this month, and you might develop some new expensive habit. For that, I apologize in advance. But don't say I didn't warn you.

Just before coming to Paris, it looked like my ipod had stopped working. I took it to the Apple store and the "genius" told me that my earphones had died. He offered me a free one of those plain white kind that come with an ipod. I rejected the little white bundle on impulse, quickly pushing it back to the other side of the counter. "No thanks," I said, trying my best to look gracious. Surely he understood. His t-shirt says "genius" after all.


Sean said...

Waiting in anticipation for the next parts on this one. Dont print many of my photographs, and therefore dont know much about it.... bad I know!!!! PS: Coffee is another discerning area... just cant bring myself to order at Starbucks.... Italian or Swiss... the rest... not keen!

michelle said...

Ahhhhh, Mangaro.....

I'll never forget when Mary introduced me to chouquettes and then said, "welcome to the addiction!" It's applicable to so many situations.