Prints That Win: Blowing Out of a Creative Funk

A small junk store in Rio, Nevada was the last place Kelly Zimmerman expected to capture her Sunset Print Award-winning image, “Blowing Out of a Creative Funk.” However, she was instantly captivated by the old fans sitting in the store window.

“[The store] had this little display set up, and I loved the concept of all of these fans. I don’t know why, it just drew me in,” Zimmerman says. “The image alone wasn’t much to speak of, but I was just inspired by the fans with the crumpled papers.”

Prints that Win: The Economic Recovery

The Economic Recovery by Nick Jones

In a print competition, the print itself should have some say in who wins the top award. At the Professional Photographers of Idaho competition, The Economic Recovery, created by Nick Jones, made it to the finish line for the coveted Sunset Print Award, but it was the print that took it over the top.

Jones, who co-owns Harmony and Nick Portrait Artists in Blackfoot, Idaho with his wife, Harmony (of course!), had his winning image, The Economic Recovery, printed on Sunset Photo Metallic Paper to help bring out the detail and give it an almost three-dimensional quality.

“When it came time for the Sunset Print Award there were a couple of rounds of judging and it kept getting split between mine and another print. The clincher was when one of the judges said that if any image is going to push the print and the printer it would be mine, and that put it over the edge,” says Jones. “We do a lot of printing on the Metallic; most of our client work is printed on it because it gives it that pop. I think it’s awesome. When it’s under the light it gives a new dimension to it; it’s almost 3D.”

Jones put a lot of himself into the image. In fact, Jones is actually in the image, standing next to the burning barrel on the far right side of the final composite. The main subject is his father, and you can see in the six panels below the main image all the pieces and parts Jones brought into a cohesive award-winning whole.

“I was planning on doing a different image with my father, because he has interesting features. It was a quick setup in house. I put it together with a background I like that has warm and cool tones. Then, I put it on Facebook and it got a lot of attention just as it was,” recalls Jones. “I looked for some additional elements to put in there to provide more storytelling. It grew from there. It built itself in a way. It was over several months that I added elements and tried some different ideas.”

Jones used Photoshop to create the composite from the six original images, painstakingly “hand-painting” the divergent images to create an accurate blend; a blend that makes the final image look like it was shot as-is, rather than composited. To bring out additional contrast and saturation, Jones applied nik Software filters.

“We do a lot of composite imaging with our sports teams and portraits. I first came into the studio doing Harmony’s retouching work. Along the way I starting seeing cool artwork, by Mark Bryant and others who are masters at composite work, and it intrigued me. So we started taking their courses and now use it in a lot of our photography, such as the pinup work we do in the summer,” explains Jones.

In addition to a Sunset Print Award, The Economic Recovery also won Photographer’s Choice at the Idaho print competition and went loan at the International Photographic Competition (IPC).

Instant Marketing with Inkjet at Ridinger Photo

Printing window displays for a photography studio

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but what about one that’s six feet tall, almost four feet wide and glows? Mike Ridinger, owner of Ridinger’s The Art of Photography in downtown Lewiston, Idaho, says the big photos he printed to hang in his storefront were worth not only a thousand words, but likely created more than a thousand impressions.

Ridinger explains that the town of Lewiston hosted its annual Hot August Nights car show, blocking off downtown for hundreds of show cars, live music and other activities. Thousands of people came from all over for the event, and Ridinger was ready for them at his downtown studio with five big prints: three senior portraits and two family portraits.

Printing promotional displays for a photo studio“I like sitting in the studio and watching people come by to stop to look at them. They’re so big that people can’t help but look at them,” says Ridinger. “We also posted photos of the window displays on Facebook and we had 41 comments just yesterday.”

Ridinger says he took his cue from The Gap and its storefront marketing approach. To give the prints more life at night, Ridinger backed them with halogen lights, creating a glow that lures people to the windows.

“We use the heavier Sunset Photo eSatin Paper for the display prints in our studio, but for this we chose a more economical and thinner paper, LexJet 8 Mil Production Satin Photo Paper, for the window displays,” says Ridinger.

Ridinger framed the prints with four-inch baseboard molding, stained the molding, cut it to size and stapled them together. The bottoms of the frames rest on the floor and are balanced with fishing line strung from the ceiling to the tops of the frames.

“Inkjet printing is our way of immediate marketing. I love it because if we want to put something up right away, we can do these big-time prints: we pick out the images and I just lay them out and print,” says Ridinger.

Promotional displays with wide format inkjetRidinger adds that they’re in the process of re-doing all of their studio displays using Sunset Photo eSatin Paper and Sunset Select Matte Canvas. At any given time, he says, the studio features about 30 large wall portraits in three different themed areas: children, families and seniors.

Ridinger also has a display program where he pre-sells prints for half off in exchange for being able to use them as display prints in his studio for a certain time period. “We call the client to see if they’re interested. If they are, they get a nice print for half off, which pays for my in-studio advertising,” says Ridinger.

Arena Graphics with a Twist

Printing and installing arena graphicsPrinting and assembling 84 panels, each one 12 feet long and 42 inches wide, might seem like a grueling task, but it was one Vickey Williams of Mountain Dreamworks in Ketchum, Idaho, was more than up to.

The panels were hung along the length of two walls at the Sagebrush Horse Arena in Hailey, Idaho in honor of the Sagebrush Cowboy Ball on July 7, a fundraiser for the Sagebrush Equine Training Center for the Handicapped (SETCH).

Once installed, the panels created a full-length mural. Williams worked with the party planners to create the backdrop using stock photos of horsesPrinting and hanging graphics in an arena scattered around a sunflower-filled carnival theme.

Though the impressive outcome was certainly worth it, as was the $450,000 SETCH raised from the event, it was a time consuming project. Williams did all of the printing on her Canon iPF8100 using LexJet TOUGHcoat Water-Resistant Polypropylene, to which she credits much of the success of the project.

“That material made it so much easier to deal with a project this size, because it doesn’t tear, and it doesn’t seem to wrinkle all that much. Plus, the Canon will print borderless so I didn’t have to trim the unprintable area of the print,” says Williams. “We used LexJet Heavy Duty Banner Tape to create the hem pockets and make it easier to install, so I was able to do the whole job myself.”

Williams contracted a cherry picker to help with hanging the panels on-site. “Basically, we got into mass production mode at the shop, printing the panels and then stapling wood lathing in the top and bottom hem pockets so it would stay put, and drilling holes in the top hems. That way, all we had to do when we got there was unroll it and zip-tie it to a wire that went horizontally around the whole arena. They hung like drapes.”

Printing graphics for a special eventWilliams admits that a project of such large volume might have been a nightmare if she didn’t have just the right combination of printer, print media and support from her LexJet customer specialist, Michael Clementi.

Her own personal skills and innovation played a key role, but Williams says that calling Clementi and sharing the scope of a project was equally important. “I may have been able to do most of this job myself, but in reality it was a group effort. Michael learned about what we were trying to accomplish and recommended the perfect material for the job,” she says.

The short video below was taken during the installation of the panels…