2017 National Sunset Print Award Winners Announced

Congratulations to the winners of the 2017 National Sunset Print Awards. They will be presented with their awards at Imaging USA in Nashville, next month:

1st Place: The Beauty of Innocence – Kimberly J. Smith

2nd Place: Classic – Randy McNeilly

3rd Place: In Flight with Twigs – Uldis Ilvess

There were a total of 31 prints that included a junk boat on a cool and Misty Morning, a celebratory Alabaster Aster, the majesty of a Departing Flight, and even a pack of lawmen in Prepare There’s Trouble. With such a vast array of creativity and artistry displayed by the 2017 Sunset Print Awards around the country, it’s no wonder the judges had a difficult time narrowing the field down to the final three.

Discussing her Southwest PPA win earlier in the year with The Beauty of Innocence, Smith reflected on the photo shoot where she captured the innocence and serenity of a 1-year old, not an easy thing to do! “I could see the artistry in the shot and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to capture the image,” Smith said of the winning image, pictured above.

“Classic” by Randy McNeilly

Photography veteran Randy McNeilly had a total of three wins out of the PPA Southeast district, but it was his wedding portrait “Classic” – a piece that truly captures the elegance and beauty of a bride on her wedding day – that garnered a 2nd place win in the National awards. McNeilly stressed that spending time with each client is an important part of capturing their personality and learning what story is inside, begging to be told.

“In Flight with Twigs” by Uldis Ilvess

For Uldis Ilvess, a fortuitous road trip helped him score his winning shot for Professional Photographers of Iowa. While driving through the country, he spotted a few homes and decided to see if there was anything interesting. Ilvess recalls, “[there] was this fenced-in area with a pond, and in the shrubs, were these birds nesting.” Watching the birds mesmerized him, but he had to get some pictures which enabled him to capture the grace and beauty of the scene.

Along with an engraved crystal trophy, the winners will also receive cash prizes totaling $1,500 for First Place, $500 for Second Place and $300 for Third Place. We want to thank all the participants in the 2017 Sunset Awards and look forward to seeing this year’s winners in Nashville.

Best of 2017: 10 Awesome Customer Print Projects

From school pride and works of art to corporate design and thesis exhibits, 2017 was an inspiring year of print output by LexJet customers around the country. Take a look at 10 of the top applications we discovered from our amazingly creative, inventive and sometimes super feisty customers:

Illinois Company Revs Up Custom Car Show Signs Sometimes a passion can turn into an excellent business opportunity, which is exactly what happened to Gary Hedlin, who owns Show Car Signs, a business that specializes in designing, printing and mounting customized signs for car shows. The signs are displayed on the ground, on easels or mounted onto a 4-foot brushed-aluminum stand, and the verbiage on the sign describes details like the car’s make, model and year, horsepower, wheel types, suspension, vehicle upgrades and other tidbits to help the car stand out in the competition. READ MORE

How Bumblejax Gives Mounted Photos Some Real Pop When Seattle, Wash.-based Bumblejax wanted to create an ecommerce site that allowed anyone to have access to high-end, modern face-mounted photo displays, they tested out several different photo papers before settling on the winning product. About five years ago, they came across the award-winning LexJet Sunset Photo Metallic Paper, and they were sold. READ MORE

Prints That Win: Alabaster Aster

For Dover, Ohio classic portrait artist Christine Walsh-Newton, working with people is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a photographer, so it would seem rather curious that her Sunset Award-winning print, “Alabaster Aster,” is something as simple – yet geometrically stunning – as a flower. “Working with people is great, I get to interact with them, but as a photographer, you don’t always have 100% control,” Walsh-Newton says. “Sometimes I just want to chill. Photographing flowers is sort of a means of meditation for me.”

Adding more meaning to her choice is the history of the Fuji Mum (in the Aster family) that is the subject of her winning piece. It was part of a bouquet given to her by her husband for their 19th wedding anniversary. “I rarely shoot flowers, unless it’s for my own entertainment, but I thought this would make for a great image, especially in black and white,” she says of “Alabaster Aster.” “I like to use alliteration for the titles of my flower pieces, and alabaster is a much more descriptive word than ‘white’, it was perfect for this selection.”

Sub Shots: Making Great Artwork More Affordable

The evolution of SubShots by Dye Hard Sublimations over the past few years is a story that epitomizes the growing capabilities of inkjet and dye-sublimation printing. The team started out dye-sub printing uniforms for lacrosse leagues, but with new products and technology, they’ve begun to evolve into photography reproduction and décor applications and even Christmas ornaments.

“We had every intention of doubling-down on apparel, but once we got the equipment and printable hard surfaces, like ChromaLuxe metal photo panels, we thought: Why don’t we just produce really great, vibrant pictures on ChromaLuxe?” says Sean Calvillo of SubShots. “We think we make good artwork more affordable.”

Cavillo says his team is currently curating more photographic content from professional photographers, and customers can choose from a library of images and order metal or wood prints through SubShots ecommerce site. They also offer customized work for commercial interior design, such as the aerial shot divided into multiple ChromaLuxe metal panels, pictured above.

While the art/photography side of their business gains momentum, SubShots hasn’t veered to far from its sporting beginnings. With the purchase of an Epson SureColor P8000 44-inch aqueous printer from LexJet, SubShots was able to start producing complementary graphics, like life-size wall cutouts of athletes, like the lacrosse player pictured.

“We’ve augmented the metal pictures with LexJet Print-N-Stick Fabric to create wall decals to keep with our sports roots,” Calvillo says. “We want to be the one vendor who can do both.”

The creative team has also been working with ChromaLuxe for customized holiday gifts. “We have a photographer customer who was taking the pictures she shot during a session and dye-sub printing them as double-sided ornaments,” Calvillo says.

The SubShots team became a LexJet Blue Business member, and Calvillo says the shipping program has been a game-changer. “LexJet’s personalized service combined with the free shipping program and your competitiveness on price is why you guys are always my first call,” he says.

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.

Latex-printable Fabric to the Rescue as Fundraiser Photo Backdrop

Every year, hundreds of guests attend one of the largest and most glamorous events in Sarasota, Fla., the Wine, Women & Shoes luncheon and fashion show. Earlier this year, organizers reached out to us for assistance with its photography area backdrop.

They needed a lightweight fabric that could hang elegantly without wrinkles or creases across a 19-foot area. Another challenge: It needed to be printed with deep black inks that really offset three logos at the top.