Prints That Win: The Beauty of Innocence

For photographic craftsman Kimberly Smith of Muskogee, Okla., a hobby that started as a way to document the growth of her family through scrapbooking turned into a full-blown career. “I really was looking for a better camera to take better pictures of my kids. It turns out, not only did I find a better camera, I also found my passion,” she says.

Once Smith decided to pursue photography, she began looking for classes or other educational opportunities. A friend of hers suggested she reach out to Shannon Ledford of Broken Arrow, so that’s just what she did. “When I showed her my work, she said she could tell that I had a good eye,” Smith says. “She was so encouraging to me and my craft.” The two women bonded over photography and became fast friends, with Ledford inviting her to conventions, to her studio and into the lab for experience and training.

Nowadays, Smith has embodied the role of mentor to up-and-coming local photographers, saying, “it’s important to me to be able to inspire and encourage others, even if it’s as simple as going to their social media posts and commenting on the talent that I see.”

Attending conventions is still part of Smith’s routine, along with classes and competitions – affectionately known as the three C’s – making her a perpetual student of the art. Of competitions, like the Sunset Print Awards, Smith says, “they push me to do better. With every competition, I improve and they make me stronger.” She stresses that learning what to do or not to do and finding new ways to be creative are some of the most important lessons to be garnered from entering competitions.

During a recent Southwest PPA show, Smith had a few entries and was excited to see how the judges would rate her various prints. She was delighted to find out that her first image to be judged – “The Beauty of Innocence” – received a score of 100.

Thinking back on that particular portrait session, Smith notes, “a serene 1-year old is not necessarily something you would expect to have at the end of a photo shoot, but at that moment, the little girl just had a look of curiosity and a calmness about her. I could see the artistry in the shot and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to capture the image.” With the soft light coming through the window and the white jumper, she decided the image would be even more striking as a black and white.

Once the editing was complete, Smith worked with Red River Digital, an Oklahoma City based company that provides printing services for local artists, to ensure the print was competition-ready. She knew she wanted to use a thick art paper so that she could distress the edges of the print, adding a classic feel to the modern print. She decided on Sunset Hot Press Rag 310g, which gave her just the look she had envisioned for her winning entry.

Smith understands that her drive to compete, her desire to learn and willingness to share her knowledge contributes to her success. “In the end,” she says, “our memories and photographs are all we have. Enjoy life and capture it.”

Prints That Win: Prepare There’s Trouble

Award-winning master photographer Terry Blain was not always telling her story from behind the camera. She spent the past two decades traveling all over the country looking for interesting people to capture; however, in her early days as a model, she was the one who was captured on film. One day, after a particularly uninspired photo shoot, she realized that she would have set up the shots differently, had she been the one taking the pictures.

Utilizing her experiences on both sides of the camera, she has a self-awareness that helps her envision the best way to optimize the lighting, the setting and the model to strike the right tone and properly tell her story. “Putting the models at ease and making them comfortable is the best way for me to get the most flattering shot,” Blain says. “Often, I want to accentuate and flatter the highlights of the scene while downplaying the low-lights. I’m lucky enough to have experiences on both sides of the lens to help me clearly communicate this to my clients.”

Turkeys, Pie and Printer Promotions: The Holidays Have Arrived

It’s the start of the holiday season, and while everyone else will be waiting for the end of the month to find that big Black Friday deal, you have the entire month of November to gobble up great savings on a new printer. Don’t miss out on available mail-in and instant rebates, as well as other special offers available through LexJet. Unless otherwise noted, all rebates and prices are applicable through Nov. 30, 2017.

Canon Instant Rebates (through Nov. 30, 2017):

Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-2000, 24-inch printer: $200

Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-4000, 44-inch printer: $500

Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-4000S, 44-inch printer: $200

Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-6000S

Mail-in/End User Rebate on the following (through Nov. 30, 2017):

Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-6000, 60-inch printer: $1,200

Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-4000, 44-inch printer: $300

Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-2000, 24-inch printer: $200

Canon PRO-Series Webinar: Join us Nov. 9, at 11 a.m. ET to discover the latest advancements in Canon printers. Attendees will receive an additional 5% off their PRO-Series printer purchase. SIGN UP NOW

Zero % Financing: Canon is offering 0% financing on imagePROGRAF printers through Nov. 30, 2017.

Prints That Win: Ambers Anticipation

During her junior year in high school, Abbie Thomas fell in love with life behind the lens while taking a photography class. She always knew photography was in her blood – thanks to her grandfather – but once she started getting hands-on experience in class, she knew this was her calling. At age 17, a friend asked if she would photograph her wedding. Without any experience, and only a high school’s class worth of training, she borrowed her grandfather’s camera, loaded it up with black and white film, and shot her first wedding.

“It was the first time I’d been able to capture a wedding from beginning to end,” Thomas says. “Sitting down with [the bride and groom] after everything was over was amazing, to see the joy on the bride’s face … I just knew this is what I wanted to do.”

Years later, her wedding portraiture work has evolved into award-winning art. For the Sunset Print Awards, Thomas submitted her PPA Northeast winning photo “Ambers Anticipation.” Thomas was inspired by the amber waves of grain when entering the portrait into competition. This wedding shoot was especially personal to Thomas: She used to babysit the bride, Claire, when she was just a girl, and she captured Claire’s youthful exuberance in her senior portrait.

When Claire got engaged, the family knew that no other photographer would illustrate the day the way Thomas could. She was given free rein by the bride to do what she does best: witness the wedding day from beginning to end. To have played an integral part in so many highlights of Claire’s life, Thomas wanted to ensure that everything was perfect at the wedding.

Give Custom Walls Personality with the Right Wallcovering Product

Gone are the days of choosing from a few wallpaper options that may ­– or may not – match your style and personality. Creating custom artwork for your home or office is one of the new trends for wall décor. From kids’ rooms to board rooms, we’ve rounded up a variety of solutions that are tailor-made for you.

Check out some of the ways our customers added personality and life to their wall mural projects:

Wall Murals That Go with the Flo: If you are doing a project that will be displayed for a few months or several years, LexJet Simple Flo Wrap Vinyl, with its air-egress liner and repositionable adhesive, makes installation a breeze. When John Toth from Triad Creative Group was tasked with bringing the past to the present, he opted for Simple Flo – laminated with LexJet Simple Flo Wrap Gloss UV Laminate (2.4 Mil). For this project, some of the murals were displayed on different substrates, including primed MDF and Sintra, while others were applied directly to the display walls. Toth knew that the applications would be bubble-free due to the air-egress liner and that the repositionable adhesive would allow him to fix any misaligned panels during installation. The wide color gamut of the Simple Flo contributed to the authenticity of the project by bringing out subtle nuances in the historical images.

Prints That Win: Misty Morning

Last November, photographers Kathryn and Gary Meek were vacationing in China, when one misty morning, they spied a junk boat moored to just a little wisp of a dock on the Yangtze River. Even though it was at rest, Kathryn Meek said she was struck by the serenity of the scene. She pulled out her camera and started shooting. One of the images she captured would later become “Misty Morning,” winner of the Sunset Print Award – Illustrative category in the PPA Southwest District.

“It is one of my favorite shots. The trip was a cool experience and I was able to get a really cool shot,” she says.

To properly convey the ethereal feeling of the scene for the print, she used LexJet Sunset Photo Metallic Paper. “It really made the image pop,” she said of the award-winning paper.