Photo Book Presents Uncommon View of the Commonwealth of Kentucky

You don’t have to travel the world to shoot images remarkable enough to sell.  Gifted photographers can find visually powerful scenes without wandering far from their own backyards.  

Just ask LexJet customer Jeff Rogers. He grew up in a tiny town (population 250) in rural Kentucky and has spent the past 20 years photographing Kentucky’s people, products, and culture for advertising, commercial, and corporate clients. His images have appeared in magazines such as National Geographic Traveler and Delta Sky magazine and on 30-ft. photo murals at the Lexington airport. 

Last October, he released his second coffee-table book of panoramic images of Kentucky. The book is entitled Kentucky Wide II, and Rogers expects it to be a popular promotional tool or memento for the thousands of horse-lovers from around the world who will come to Kentucky this year for the 2010 World Equestrian Games.  A number of Kentucky-based corporations bought the book for Christmas gifts. And some Kentucky residents bought copies to send to sons and daughters who have moved out-of-state. 

Kentucky Wide II presents breathtaking panoramics that Lexington-based commercial photographer Jeff Rogers captured on 35 mm Fuji transparency film using a Hasselblad XPan camera. Each image in the book is printed at least 7 in. high and 20 in. wide, spreading across two pages of the 11.5 x 8 in. book. Rogers self-published his first photo book (Kentucky Wide) in 2006, and it sold out within months. Shown here: Cumberland Gap in the autumn. ©Jeff Rogers.

Self-publishing and marketing a photo book can be a lot of work, Rogers admits. But his  photography business has benefitted in ways other than revenues from direct sales of the book. For example, because the book has sparked awareness of his archives of Kentucky-themed images, Rogers has sold many wall prints to upscale restaurants in Kentucky cities. (He prints these images himself, using LexJet Sunset Select Canvas or Sunset Textured Fine Art paper on his Epson Stylus Pro 9800.)

He has also seen an increase in his stock-photography sales. Most recently, Rogers learned that this book has received three Addy Awards from the Lexington Advertising Club.   

Kentucky Wide II is the second book Rogers has published.  He published his first photo book in 2006, using 75 panoramic images that he had shot over a 10-year period while “getting lost” on the picturesque back roads that crisscross the farmlands, forests, and lake regions of Kentucky. The book sold out in a few months, so Rogers decided to produce a follow-up.

For Kentucky Wide II, Rogers took a different approach. He deliberately set out to shoot a cross-section of images that would more fully reflect the diversity and beauty of Kentucky in all four seasons. The 83 images in Kentucky Wide II not only include scenes of farms, forests, and skylines, but also show rock climbers at Red River Gorge in Eastern Kentucky, barrels in a bourbon warehouse on Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail, colorful jockey silks hanging in a locker room at Keeneland Race Track, grapes being harvested at the Lover’s Leap Winery, and cars being manufactured at the General Motors’ Corvette assembly plant in Western Kentucky. 

Even though he shoots all of his commercial work digitally, Rogers shot 81 of the images for the Kentucky Wide II book on 35 mm Fuji transparency film. For the panoramic format, he used a Hasselblad XPan camera to expose approximately 1-3/4 frames per shot on the film. Jeff Whatley at National Geographic Imaging made 300MB drum scans of each image, and Richard Sisk made the meticulous color correction to meet the original film as closely as possible. 

“It would have been easier, and certainly less expensive to digitally stitch these images together in Photoshop,” Rogers acknowledges. “But I chose to create them with a dedicated film camera because of the purity of the process.”

“I have always enjoyed the creative challenge of using different formats and perspectives.” adds Rogers. Not only does it give the viewer something different, but it also enables him to produce the types of images that most people can’t replicate.

He hired a photo editor to help him select which images to include, and a graphic designer to make the book look like more of an art book, than a travel book.  And of course, he timed the book’s release for Christmas gift-giving and promotion of the 2010 World Equestrian Games.  

The 176-page, hardcover book sells for $39.95 and is available at bookstores, online, and on his own website. Rogers is donating a portion of the proceeds from book sales to various charitable organizations, including a clean drinking water program in Bolivia, the Center for Women in Racing, Hospice of the Bluegrass, and the Lexington Rescue Mission. 

To see more of Rogers’ work, visit his website

Rogers chose to shoot panoramics so viewers of Kentucky Wide II could experience Kentucky sights and scenes in a more natural, immersive way. Shown here: Flat Lick Falls in Jackson County. ©Jeff Rogers.

HP Demonstrates New Ideas for Photo Exhibitions

By Eileen Fritsch
Editor, LexJet’s In Focus Newsletter

When I attend photo-industry trade shows for LexJet, I look for new ideas, trends, products, and services that can help professional photographers do more with their wide-format inkjet printers. So I always like to see how the “big-three” printer manufacturers are promoting their products. Last week, I talked about some of Epson’s educational activities related to PDN PhotoPlus Expo (PPE) in New York in October.

Some of the images in Joel Meyerowitz's exhibition were converted into immersive wall graphics that capture the essence of New York City's parks. These images at the entrance to the gallery were printed on an HP Designjet L65500 latex-ink printer.

Today, I want to talk about an exceptional panel discussion that HP organized at PPE to show how photojournalists are redefining themselves now that fewer publications are hiring them for assignments. Entitled New Ideas, New Beginnings, the panel discussion was moderated by Harald Johnson, who wrote the groundbreaking book Mastering Digital Printing.

The panelists included Magnum photographers Thomas Hoepker and Joel Meyerowitz (who are using HP Designjet Z3200 wide-format printers to make their own exhibition prints) and Eileen Gittins, the enterprising photography enthusiast who founded Blurb (which uses HP Indigo digital presses to print hundreds of thousands photo books a year, in quantities as small as one book at a time).

Thomas Hoepker started out by talking about how difficult it has become to make money in stock photography—particularly now that Corbis has a collection of 100 million images, Getty has 60 million images, and iStock Photo has roughly 1.8 million contributors. The good news, he said, is that digital imaging allows photographers to do more things for themselves, such as printing their own exhibitions and collector prints. He said he never really planned to get into fine-art photography or making his own prints. But after he developed a retrospective exhibition of his 40+ year career in photojournalism, he started getting calls from collectors.

Until then, Hoepker had only been using dye-based printers for proofs and comps. But now he uses the HP Designjet Z3200 wide-format inkjet printer to produce the pigment-ink prints he sells to collectors for thousands of dollars each. Like others at the PPE show, Hoepker said inkjet printing has become straightforward enough that you don’t have to become a printing geek to get exhibition-worthy results. He believes that because of the explosion of images online, there is a newfound appreciation for printed images, especially big prints.

Joel Meyerowitz used an HP Designjet Z3200 to make his own prints for an exhibition that runs through March 7 at the Museum of the City of New York.

Next up was Joel Meyerowitz, who talked about how he used an HP Designjet Z3200 to print all 75 of the 40 x 50-in. and 30 x 40 in. images displayed in his new exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York. Entitled Legacy: The Preservation of Wilderness in New York City Parks, the exhibition displays the best of the 3,000 images Meyerowitz shot during three-year project to document the remaining pockets of “wilderness” in the 29,000 acres of parks in New York’s five boroughs.

To give exhibition visitors the sense they are entering the natural world in New York, some of Meyerowitz’s images of trees and rivers were printed as big as 9 x 12 ft. using HP’s new Designjet L65500 latex-ink printer. These oversized prints were installed as “immersive graphics” on the walls and floors of the exhibition’s entryway. Meyerowitz said he was skeptical at first at how well his images would look when output on a printer used for commercial graphics, but said he was pleasantly surprised by the quality.

Along with the exhibition prints, Meyerowitz worked with the Aperture Foundation to produce a limited-edition boxed set that includes a coffeetable book about the Legacy project, a limited-edition book about the Hallett Nature Sanctuary in Central Park printed on an HP Indigo 5500 digital press, and a pigment-ink print output on an HP Designjet Z3200. Each print and limited-edition book is numbered and signed by Meyerowitz. The collector’s “boxed set” represents a new concept for selling art prints in conjunction with photo books.

Meyerowitz’s boxed set used a concept similar to the one introduced by the three artists of the Digital Atelier in HP’s booth at the Print 09 show. The Digital Atelier boxed set combined a book about their pioneering work in digital printmaking, along with limited-edition prints that had been produced with a variety of HP’s aqueous, solvent, and UV-curable ink printing technologies.

The final panelist was Eileen Gittins who said when she founded Blurb in 2001 she envisioned it primarily as a way for consumers to print small quantities of professional-looking photo books. Since then, Blurb has become extremely popular with professional photographers. She said many pro photographers are using books not only as portfolio books, but also to promote their work with fan clubs and social causes. For example, if you use social networking to build a community of fans for your photography, you can publish a Blurb book and sell it through your own blog and website. Blurb lets you set your own price for a book and keep all of the profits.

Photographers who serve  as the official photographer for special events often publish books and sell them on Blurb. Gittins says this can be a great way for young photographers to gain national exposure and attract their “natural audience”—people who are enthusiastic and passionate about the same subjects and causes they are. Some photographers are gaining nationwide recognition by creating photo books to promote a cause, then donating the proceeds to charity.

After the presentation was over, it was clear that the panelists had succeeded in encouraging the audience to thnk differently. The panelists had conveyed two important messages:

  • Just because today’s markets for professional photography aren’t the same as they once were doesn’t mean that there aren’t real opportunities to build a career for yourself as a photographer.
  • Now that digital printing technologies have replicated (or exceeded) the printing methods used in the past, the time has come to start exploring how digital-printing technologies can be used to do create photo products and presentations that were never practical before.

Note that if the idea of creating immersive graphics for your next photo exhibition intrigues you, call one of the account specialists at LexJet at 800-453-9538.

In addition to teaching pro photographers how to print their own work, the tech-support team at LexJet has taught literally thousands of photo labs and printing businesses how to use their wide-format inkjet printers to create all types of graphics, including wall murals, floor graphics and window graphics. If you’d rather not make big graphics yourself, we can refer you to printing companies in your area that can.

Book Presents Tips for New Sellers of Art Photography

By Eileen Fritsch

RyderBigBookCompared to the number of books that have been published on digital photography and Photoshop, relatively few books have been written on inkjet photo printing. Even fewer guides have been published about how to mat, mount, and frame inkjet prints for display in an exhibition or gallery.

That’s why I was intrigued by a self-published book entitled: The Big Picture: Taking Your Photography to the Next Level. Many of the mounting, framing, and marketing tips featured in the book will be well-known to photography pros who have been selling their work for a long time.

But this book was written by Eric Zachary Ryder, a self-taught photographer in California who recently spent thousands of dollars and hours making the journey from hobbyist to professional photographer. He now sells his work for a solid profit and has a permanent presence in a well-regarded gallery in the Napa Valley and several other venues.  

He admits that he wasted a lot of money because “I didn’t understand the business. I invested in the wrong frames, mats, glass, etc. I also took forays that I shouldn’t have: shortcuts, cheaper materials, and paying someone else to do work that I could have done myself if I’d only known how.”

“It’s funny how you don’t think of ‘production’ when you think of selling your work, but it’s extremely important,” observes Ryder. “It’s not just a matter of simply having nice images; it’s presenting them in a way that is appealing, yet inexpensive to produce.”

Until he was invited to sell his prints in the gift shop of a local winery, he says he hadn’t ever given much thought to issues such as matting, mounting, framing, and marketing.  The information he found from various online sources was confusing at best.

So now that he’s successfully selling his work, Ryder decided to publish the techniques that have worked best for him.  He explains how to mat, mount, and frame 8 x 10 and 16 x 20 prints and discusses topics such as finding your style, creating title cards, pricing your prints, buying print racks, and transporting your work.  The book includes links to sources of the products he has used, including mats, gallery description card holders, art cases, print racks, and shipping tubes.

Ryder says some of the biggest mistakes he made were in choosing the wrong frames and mats: “Getting the whitest mat is critical—at least for my work. But there are a zillion ‘whites’ out there.” Here are a few of his tips on matting the framing: 

Try to standardize on a few print sizes so you can buy mats in volume and at a discount.

Use a mat width (border) that is appropriate for your print size.  “Any prints bigger than 11 x 14 in. should have a mat width of 4-1/2 to 5 in. on all sides,” advises Ryder.  “Prints smaller than 11 x 14 should have a mat width of 2-1/2 in. or less.  I use a 1-1/2 in. mat width for 5 x 7 in. prints, and 2-3/4 in. for 11 x 14-in. prints.”

For black-and-white prints, use black frames with white mats. “When I experimented with other options, the frames looked great, but too many people already had walls full of black-and-white prints with black frames and white mats,” says Ryder. “Adding one of my framed prints to their collection would mess things up.”

Sign the mats—in pencil. “I tried all kinds of things to avoid ruining the clean lines of an unsigned mat,” says Ryder. “ It turns out that people like signatures on the mats. I tried putting a white border on the photo itself and digitally titling and numbering the picture in Photoshop. This wasn’t good for large pictures, because as one client said it looked like a poster.  But I found that it was actually good for 11 x 14-in. prints in a 16 x 20-in. mat.”

Consider using metal frames instead of wood. “Metal frames these days are quite nice, and hold up very well,” says Ryder. “They don’t require any special equipment to assemble and you save quite a bit of money by doing the frames yourself.”

You can view sample pages and a table of contents on Ryder’s website and order it as either a printed book or an e-book.

I don’t know if Ryder ever came to LexJet for advice during his journey from hobbyist to professional. But if he had, a LexJet account specialist could have helped him save time and money. In addition to setting him up with a great pro-model inkjet printer and efficient, cost-effective workflow, LexJet could have shown him some of the products in the Framing Made Easy collection.

LexJet’s community of customers includes hundreds of self-taught photographers who print their own work and sell it at art fairs and galleries.  When a LexJet account specialist learns about something that worked well for one customer, they take note of it and recommend it to other customers who may be facing similar issues.  We also routinely publish artwork-production, display, and marketing tips in LexJet’s In Focus newsletter.

To talk to an account specialist, call LexJet at 888-873-7553. Or, subscribe to LexJet’s In Focus newsletter.