Guest Blog: Photographing for Wide Format and Beyond

Guest blog by Billy Elkins

As a professional photographer, I am called some days to make images of products that will be used in an online catalog. Other days I am asked to make images that will span 80 feet long by 20 feet high. Of course, there are all those other sizes that fall somewhere in the middle.

Billy Elkins

How do I jump from one to the other? How do I ensure that the images I create can be used within that vast size range? And what are some simple tips to make this possible?

As a photographer who has clients with varying image size requirements, it can be overwhelming trying to decide what settings and sizes to capture my images. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that I capture with the largest size I can within my camera. Inevitably, the one time you decide to capture using a smaller setting, the client will ask for the image that was supposed to be on their mail-out postcard to be used on the company’s new vehicle wrap. Making images large to begin with, I can provide anything smaller later, or larger later depending on their needs.

All printers have specifications for the type of printing they provide. Traditional off-set printers prefer images to be 300dpi at 100% of the printed image size. Wide-format printers have a range of resolutions that they work with depending on the viewing distance of the final print or installation. Again, they may say they prefer images to be 150dpi at 100% of the printed size (for posters or large photo displays) all the way down to 50dpi at 100% of the print size (for vehicle wraps, wall installations or billboards). It is important to understand that having just one part of that equation is not enough information.

Communication is key. And that is the most important tip I can offer. Asking the client about all the uses that the image will have and talking directly with the printer who will be providing final prints allows me to capture exactly what I need. If I know there is a possibility that an image will be used larger than traditional printing, I will approach the photography differently. I will not only bracket (capture varying exposures of an image), but I will also create overlapping images, almost like a panorama, so that I have much more resolution to allow for enlargement of the image. Knowing the final output and use, the final size, and the preferred resolution requirements ahead of time, I can be sure to capture everything I need in the beginning.

I will be talking in more detail, providing real working job scenarios for wide-format printing and the whole process from: communication, to image capture, to post-processing, to printing and installation in upcoming articles. If you have a specific question or other topics related to photography and wide-format printing that you would like help solving, please let me know and I will do my best to help.

Wide Format Photography Tips

  • Before even grabbing your camera, ask your client how large will your image need to be and for what type of application it will be used.
  • Talk to the printer to find out what resolution and file format they prefer.
  • Create mockups whenever possible so that you and your client and the printer are all on the same page.
  • When actually doing the shoot, be sure to over-shoot so that you have plenty of images to choose from especially when you are overlapping to create the largest possible file/image you can.
  • Send proofs to client as soon as possible in case you need to reshoot.

The Go-to Choice for Consistent Canvas Production

As you head into the busiest season for canvas production, you need a canvas product that you can rely on for consistent results and reliable output, print after print. For nearly 10 years, award-winning LexJet Sunset Select Matte Canvas has been a top seller to busy print shops like yours.

With a smooth, matte-coated surface, this poly-cotton blend is ideal for fine art and photographic reproduction, delivering exceptional color and detail. Plus, it’s lightweight, making it easier to stretch for gallery wraps. It’s the canvas of choice for David Little II of IGLIVISION in Loveland, Colo., who creates and wraps canvas photo and art prints (pictured).

Product highlights:

Watch the video above to learn more about LexJet Sunset Select Matte Canvas, and stock up before the holiday rush hits!

Photos: David Little II

Prints That Win: Deeply Attached

For Bend, Ore. photographer Julia Kelleher, photography is a family affair. Her photography studio, Jewel Images, is celebrating 10 years of capturing family milestones, including the arrival of newborns, pregnancy and other family portraits. Kelleher also shares her own family moments through the photographs she enters in yearly competitions.

“I try to enter my son every year,” Kelleher says. “My goal is to someday create an album of annual competition images for him from when he was very little to when he’s 18 or 19 years old.”

Recently, Kelleher’s quest resulted in a Sunset Print Award for her winning portrait, “Deeply Attached,” in the PPA Western District 2017 competition.

The portrait depicts her young son holding a toy dog attached to a blanket, a gift given to him by his aunt when he was born. Dean’s toy goes by many names, such as “Blankey” or “Stuffy.”

Prints That Win: Urban Assault

For a professional photographer who has made a career of portraits featuring Santa Claus, the PPA Southwest District winner in the artist category, titled “Urban Assault,” was a huge departure for Chris Smith, M.Photog.

Smith captured the Sunset Print Award-winning image during a SWAT team training session in Midlothian, Texas, when he was requested to shoot the training. It turned out to be an ideal opportunity to get creative for print competition.

“Competition work is something that I do for myself because it is so detailed,” Smith says. “It is very therapeutic digging into that level of detail.”

Freedom House’s Gallery of Hope Puts a Face on Homelessness

Each year Freedom House, a homeless shelter and family resource in Green Bay, Wis., holds a fundraising event to help support the work of the organization. Last year, photographer Mark Hawkins captured images throughout the facility, beautifully illustrating Freedom House’s good works and the families it serves.

Hawkins printed dozens of images and mounted them in a modern bare-metal-and-cardboard style, inspired by Chase Jarvis’s Seattle 100 project. The images were used to create the “Gallery of Hope,” a stunning collection on display during the annual fundraiser.

Experience LexJet at Adobe MAX

For the second year, LexJet has signed on as an Engagement Sponsor at Adobe MAX – The Creativity Conference, held in San Diego on Nov. 2-4. The event brings together creative experts and professionals in a trade show and seminar setting meant to inspire learning and discovering new technology and creative tools.

LexJet will head up the imaging booth where attendees can get hands-on experience with graphics, media and printer demos and application techniques.

“This is a great opportunity to showcase how these professionals can incorporate their designs into print,” says Rachel Gamberg, LexJet’s market development pro. “This event brings together an amazing creative audience from around the world.”

Keynote speakers at the event include photography Lynsey Addario, sculptor Janet Echelman, fashion designer Zac Pozen and writer/director Quentin Tarantino. Educational sessions and workshops will be covered in these tracks: creative careers, graphic design & illustration, photography & creative imaging, video and web & app design.

Stay tuned to the LexJet blog and social media to catch all the Adobe MAX excitement.