Professional photographers who have purchased inkjet printers for photographic output like having control over the entire process. That’s one of the findings of an in-depth survey conducted in May 2010 by I.T. Strategies, a digital-printing market research firm that has been surveying photographers since 2005.
According to I.T. Strategies analyst Patti Williams, gaining “control” was by far the most common response to an open-ended question that asked photographers why they had purchased an inkjet printer. Respondents reported they wanted “control over the printing process from capture to final print, control over quality, control over the final product, control over color, control over the schedule, control over workflow, control over size, and control over substrates.”
In an I.T. Strategies Market Pulse report, Williams says that more than 1,000 respondents took the time to explain why they purchased an inkjet printer for photographic output. Although some respondents provided more than one reason, she was able to group the answers into eight major categories. The top three categories were: Control, Quality, and Cost.
Here’s just a sampling of what the photographers who own inkjet printers had to say:
- I am able to control all aspects of product output at any time, day or night, and do not need to wait for UPS to deliver my prints.
- I wanted total control of my images, from setting the lights to the final print.
- I can control my workflow in a more accurate way.
- I am a control freak and I love fine-art papers. Having my own printer allows me to be controlling of my fine-art output.
- I don’t want to send it to someone else and hope they print it how I want them to.
- I love the results, and chemical darkrooms are unhealthy, toxic, and aren’t as much fun. The results now surpass the wet darkroom and I can now do things digitally that I could never do with wet processes.
It does appear that most survey respondents have been in the photography business for awhile. For instance, 78% of the professional photographers who responded to the survey had purchased their first inkjet printer for photographic output between 1988 and 2004 (with 42% purchasing between 2000 and 2004).
Only 23% of the pro photographers who responded to the survey had purchased their first inkjet printer for photographic output from 2005-2009. This may reflect the fact that many newcomers to the photography business are being actively encouraged to send their work out to photo labs so they can focus on learning everything else that goes into starting a photography business.
It’s also important to keep in mind that for some types of professional photography (e.g., stock, commercial, and editorial), the professional photographer has traditionally provided their clients with transparencies or digital files instead of final prints.
Wedding photography is one field in which photography pros traditionally generated a healthy portion of their revenues from prints. However, some newcomers to wedding photography have disrupted that long-standing business model (and given up control over the look of their final images) by simply providing files on disk to their clients or letting their clients order prints directly from an online lab.
So, it doesn’t surprise us at all to learn that fine art was the most popular type of photography printed by the survey respondents, followed by portraits, and nature/landscape photography.
Nor does it surprise us that the 1,226 survey respondents listed 77 other applications of their inkjet printers, including highly specialized niches such as historic reproductions, equine portraits, and funerals/memorials. This simply shows some of the many different ways photographers have discovered to use inkjet printers to expand their businesses and develop new revenues.
In fact, many survey respondents commented that they liked the versatility of inkjet printing technology and its ability to print big and on a variety of substrates. Here are a few other comments worth noting:
- Large-format prints are becoming a bigger part of my sales.
- It’s easier to have a printer in house and more profitable.
- I was more particular about my color quality than wet labs could meet. Also wanted a wider color gamut than wet process.
- I like having control over the print-production process. At the end of the day, the prints are our product. Fast turnaround is a factor as well. In rare cases, if a client is not quite happy with a print, we can redo it on the spot, rather than asking them to come back.
In her analysis of the survey results, Williams observes that as more photographers developed expertise in inkjet printing, they began to develop new business models that were based on in-house printing. For many photographers, this meant an increase in profits as products were no longer outsourced to a lab: “Inkjet printers meant that bigger images could be printed, and photographers and artists began to develop new types of products they could show and sell their clients.”
At LexJet, we know this is true because we have helped thousands of professional photographers, advanced amateurs, and artists learn how pro-model inkjet printers can give them greater control over their print quality and develop new products and sources of revenue.
If you would like some one-on-one advice on how to buy, use, and profit from a pro-model inkjet photo printer, please contact a LexJet account specialist at 800-453-9538.
For more information about this I.T. Strategies Market Pulse report and future reports that will be developed from their 2010 Survey of Photographers and Inkjet Printers, visit: www.it-strategies.com