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Choose the Right Inkjet Paper for Competition Prints

®2009 Jeff Bowman
The Soloist by Jeff Bowman was honored as Best High School Senior Portrait in the VPPA Print Competition.

By Kelly Price

Entering prints in competitions sponsored by organizations such as the PPA and WPPI can be a great way to learn how to improve your photography and market your work. To ensure that your images will look their very best when viewed under competition lighting, it’s important to choose the right photo paper.

One person who has mastered the art of making competition prints is Jeff Bowman, CPP, Master Photographer of Commonwealth Photography in Chester, VA.  In an album on Commonwealth’s Facebook fan page, you can see some of the 27 blue-ribbon-winning prints that Jeff created for himself and five other photographers who entered the statewide competition of the Virginia Professional Photographers Association earlier this year.

Jeff took home the Grand Photographic Award for having the print case with the most credits earned in total this year. His prints won awards for Best High School Senior portrait, Best Group portrait, and Illustrative Court of Honor.  Bowman also produced six blue-ribbon-award-winning prints for Pete Wright, five blue ribbon-award-winning prints for James Cook, four for Julie Bowman, and one for Liliana Wright. Jessica Robertson was named Best Newcomer for having the highest-scoring print for a first-time entrant.

To output all of these prints, Jeff used an Epson Stylus Pro 4880 and LexJet Sunset Photo eSatin paper.  Jeff tells me he’s partial to the LexJet Sunset Photo eSatin Paper because of its nice smooth surface and durability. The paper’s high degree of abrasion resistance is particularly important because Jeff submits all of his competition prints unlaminated.

He has been submitting unlaminated prints to competitions for a couple of years now, after he noticed that some glossy or laminated prints don’t look as good as they might when viewed under the brighter-than-normal lighting typically used in print competition judging. 

If the print is too glossy, he says you’ll see flares where the lights hit the prints. And some laminating films applied to competition prints can create a hazy or milky cast in areas of the print were viewers should be seeing nothing but deep, saturated blacks (e.g. borders).

Commonwealth Photography has been doing all of their own printing for about four years, since they bought an Epson Stylus Pro 4000. They have since upgraded to the Epson Stylus Pro 4880 and added a 44-in. Epson Stylus Pro 9880 and an Accu-18XE liquid laminator to produce the prints they deliver to their clients.  Like so many other successful studio owners, Jeff says the main reason Commonwealth does their own printing is so they can have total control over the quality of their work.

At LexJet, we hear success stories like Jeff’s every day. To read about some of the many other photographers who use LexJet Sunset Photo eSatin Paper for their exhibition prints, visit LexJet’s website and read through past issues of our In Focus newsletter. Better yet, give us a call at 888-873-7553. We’d love to talk with you!

Since 1994, LexJet has helped tens of thousands of business owners, photographers, artists, and designers prosper by helping them select the best digital-printing equipment, materials, software, and finishing systems for their operations.

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