Artists need a series of midwives to take their creations out into the world, printers, framers, gallerists, publicists and more …
As a digital photographer, one of my most important midwives is the printer. Before being printed my images are gestating in the belly of my computer.
Photographs look marvelous on a backlit screen, especially the high resolution screens of my camera and the computer. The hard part is to translate that brilliance of light, colour, texture and clarity onto dull absorbant paper.
From screen to paper, this is where the magic happens or this is where the deep disappointment begins. These days one doesn’t have to physically go into a place to hand over high res image files, they can speed through the net to their destination and return, via courier, printed.
This is a most nerve wracking time, as at that point, I have never seen a whole, full resolution printed image. I have only seen a test print sliver of it. I imagine it’s like having horse blinkers on, one can only see whats in front and not the sides. For one exhibition I never saw the full images until they were framed and hanging in the gallery. Giving birth, from digital to physical is a nail biting time, one needs a printer midwife one can trust.
The first question I am always asked when people look at my images is, “What is it?”. I know people are not referring to my subject matter, but are referring to the fact that they can’t work out whether the image is a painting, a drawing, or a photograph. I enjoy leaving them in that liminal, ambiguous space and refer the question back to them, what do you think it is? They usually go through a series of out loud deductions, well the colour looks like rich watercolour, but the image looks so sharp yet in places it is blurred…
People seem to need to satisfy the left brain with the technical details first before they can proceed to visually appreciate the image. They often reach their own conclusion that the work is a mix of painting and photography. This is not too far off a mark since the technique I use is I termed light painting but I tell people that they are looking at a photographic print. This usually really surprises them.
I tell them that I have a special printer who creates this magic for me and they are called ArtLab and are based at the Biscuit Mill in Salt River, Cape Town.
Prints of my images from ArtLab are always super sharp, full of rich color, bright with light with the blacks are how I like them, deep and velvety. Getting that balance right is a trapeze act and I can honestly say that I have never been disappointed, no not even by one print.
For the sake of transparency ArtLab have sponsored some of my exhibition printing, but they would get a glowing review, sponsorship or not.
Printing is the most crucial for photography, it brings an image to life or asphyxiates it.
With ArtLab I have found my printing midwife.