Prints that Win: Billy Wright

Billy Wright by Tim Kelly

Simple and clean is the philosophy that has been the cornerstone of award-winning veteran photographer Tim Kelly’s success. Kelly’s philosophy is perfectly illustrated with this Sunset Print Award-winner, a portrait of up and coming singer/songwriter musician Billy Wright.

Kelly won a Sunset Print Award for Billy Wright’s portrait at the recent Florida Professional Photographers competition. Billy Wright’s portrait is not flashy, but each technical element is spot-on, something the judges could not possibly overlook.

“At the state competition, it was one of about 40 prints entered out of a total of around 400 images. They judged the prints first, and I can tell you from competing for 30 years that you don’t want your prints judged in the first round, because the judges haven’t found their set point and they’re very conservative early on,” says Kelly. “Getting through the first round is a good thing, especially when you’re doing work that’s not high-impact or snazzy, but is just clean. It was ultimately selected as best print of the show.”

During the session, Kelly shot black-and-white film, 4×5 film and digital, selecting one of the 4×5 shots to add to his portfolio and enter in competition. It was a back-to-basics portrait session, but all of Kelly’s portrait photography is about the doing the basics well.

“I don’t make a habit of manipulating my images, even though I’ve been doing Photoshop since the first version came out. I make sure that my look doesn’t include any trendy, faddish elements. I try to go with a stock, clean, unaffected image,” explains Kelly. “I scanned the film, touched up his face a little bit and made my image for my portfolio and competition. Simplicity proves itself when you let it. When you have the fidelity the film can give, and then making the perfect print myself, it gives me quite an edge.”

Kelly also took great care to ensure that the overall presentation with the digital border elements he created would not distract from the subject matter. Again, clean and simple is what he strives for in his work.

“I try and make sure the tonal value of the border corresponds to and enhances the existing background. I never want to throw in new textures and densities when I want your eye to go to the subject. Where do you want me to look if I’m the viewer? Don’t distract me with other pinstripes and design elements,” says Kelly. “This is just a digital add of photo edges and a background tone pulled out of the image, which I printed with a sepia feel. I’ve been a fan of warmer black and white for portraits. I don’t sell, produce or enter cold-toned black-and-white photos. I photograph people, and people need some kind of warmth.”

Prints that Win: A Slow Decline

A Slow Decline by Cathleen Broderick

Award-winning prints are subject to any number of objective criteria, such as composition and color balance, but there is often a subtle and subjective emotional element that resonates with the judges, even if they can’t quite put their finger on the story behind that emotional element.

For the Sunset Print Award winner at the Professional Photographers Association of Massachusetts (PPAM) convention, Cathy Broderick, her award-winning print, entitled A Slow Decline, had great emotional significance.

Broderick, who owns Cathleen Broderick Photography in Whitman, Mass., captured this wilting flower in her studio while her mother was in the hospital with a terminal illness.

“I had been fooling around with flowers in the studio before my mother went into the hospital, trying to come up with something apart from my usual portraiture. When she got sick I left the studio and forgot about them,” recalls Broderick. “A few days later I came back to the studio to take care of some details in the evening after I had been to the hospital. The flowers were very wilted and for some reason I felt the need lose myself for a few minutes in photographing them. As I was thinking about the image I shot I noticed the flower was leaning and dying and that’s where the title A Slow Decline came to me. My mother had been ill for a long time, so it was appropriate; it was this strange thing that happened. I don’t normally photograph flowers in the studio; it just seemed like a therapeutic thing to do.”

Broderick’s mother passed away shortly before the PPAM competition, and though the judges didn’t know the story behind the image, it scored a 91 (highest print score at the competition) and won several awards, including the Sunset Print Award.

While the judges may have connected on an emotional level, they recognized it for its objective qualities, particularly the texture, tonality and lighting.

“It was lit by a Larson 4×6 very close to it with a silver reflector in front. I was moving it around and experimenting, because it’s not something I normally photograph. I’ve photographed flowers outdoors in natural lighting, but not in the studio,” says Broderick. “I did some processing with Nik filters and decided to enter it. I didn’t know if it was good, and I didn’t really care if it was good. It’s who I am and what was going on in my life at that time, so it was kind of emotional.”

Building Business with In-House Inkjet Printing and Samples at Arc Studios

Printing Promotional Graphics with an Inkjet PrinterAaron Thomason, owner of Arc Studios Photography in Dalton, Ga., knows the value of a print. It’s what helps showcase and sell his artistic portrait photography.

With a variety of inkjet-printable media from which to choose through LexJet, Thomason is able to present his work in a variety of formats, each with its own unique look.

“I don’t have to do any advertising other than the promotional printing I do for my studio and storefront. I can place a banner stand next to the street so people driving by can see it, so I get a lot of people stopping in who saw it when they drove or walked by the studio,” says Thomason. “I typically use a big image with just a few simple words so that my studio is in the back of their mind when they need something I can provide.”

For banner stands, Thomason uses a LexJet Blizzard Outdoor Stand with LexJet TOUGHcoat Water-Resistant Polypropylene, and on his storefront windows he uses Photo Tex Repositionable Fabric. “I change those images up regularly and they work great. They see some rain and other weather, but the images have held up fine,” says Thomason.

Printing Promotional Graphics Inkjet PrinterOn the inside of the studio, Thomason showcases canvas gallery wraps printed on either LexJet Sunset Reserve Bright Matte Canvas or LexJet Sunset Production Matte Canvas, and Photo Tex for wall murals.

He also uses LexJet Sunset Photo Metallic Paper for images that lend themselves to the pearlescent pop of the paper.

“Before I started doing my own printing I was lucky if I sold one canvas print per session. Now I’m able to sell three or four canvases per portrait client since I was able to bring the price down by doing it in-house,” explains Thomason. “We stretch the canvas here on a 1 1/2″ frame and add the UV coating, so I’m able to produce canvas less expensively for my customers, deliver it on time and ultimately sell more canvas.”

Prints that Win: Sugar and Spice

Award winning photography and printingFor the second year in a row Audrey Wancket’s classical portrait photography won a LexJet Sunset Award for Best Color Printed Image at the recent PPA Northcentral District competition.

The winning portrait, called Sugar and Spice, is not an outlier; it is representative of the high-quality work Wancket produces daily for her clients.

Situated on 11 acres and built into a barn, Wancket’s studio in Spring Grove, Ill., next to the Wisconsin border, also includes a two-acre wildflower garden perfect for outdoor sessions. The indoor sessions are where Wancket truly shines, bringing the ethos of outdoor lighting into the studio.

“The key to my studio photography is the strength and direction of the light. Natural light comes from one side, and I turn the subjects’ faces slightly into that light,” explains Wancket. “And, it depends on who you’re photographing: you put the light on the side where you’re lighting less of their face and other people the broad side of their face, depending on the shape of their face. You use the light to shape them so they look best.”

For Sugar and Spice, Wancket aimed to capture the different personalities of the twins in the portrait, to stunning effect. She captured the twins with a Phase One medium-format digital camera and retouched the image in Photoshop.

The other important aspect of Wancket’s studio photography is setting the scene with painted backgrounds and subtle personal touches that Wancket adds to the scene, like flowers and antique furniture.

“I have 144 backgrounds with four new ones on the way. I get bored easily and I don’t want my clients to have the same piece of art on their wall. I used to paint my own backgrounds, but I’ve found painters around the country who have helped bring my idea to a canvas,” explains Wancket.

Though Wancket prints much of her own work, primarily black-and-white photos for clients and her own photographic artwork, she had a friend print for the Northcentral competition.

“I get all my paper and canvas that I print from LexJet, which is where I also got my printers and the ImagePrint RIP. I love LexJet; they know their stuff,” she adds.

Five Good Reasons to Hire an Experienced Pro for Product Photography

LexJet’s In Focus newsletter helps professional photographers discover new ways to generate revenues by using wide-format inkjet printers to display their work, promote their businesses, or create new products and services. Our customers like receiving new business ideas because widespread, easy access to more powerful cameras and image-editing software has dramatically altered the traditional markets for photography services. It occurred to us that some current users of photography may not have considered the true value of hiring an experienced professional photographer.  So after featuring the innovative work of commercial photographer David Humphreys in the Printing for Profit section of our In Focus newsletter, we invited him to write a post explaining what marketing managers may be missing when they ask someone on their staff to shoot product photography.

What’s missing, explains David, is the artistry involved in capturing the true essence of a product. As a result, the product’s value or uniqueness can easily get lost among the miasma of similar-looking commercials and marketing campaigns. Here are the five top reasons he would list for hiring an experienced pro to shoot your product photography:

By David Humphreys 

1. A Unique Approach. The first and foremost reason to use an experienced pro is a completely unique and fresh approach to your project or campaign that is 100 percent reflective of your company, your marketing needs, and your brand. Too often, a company’s brand or desired focus gets lost when turning to a staff marketing intern or a stock photography resource.

2. Quality Images with Impact. The experience and expertise of your photographer ultimately shows through on the images of your product or brand. Collaboration with an expert, and the outside perspective they bring, can make a tremendous difference in whether a marketing campaign is memorable for years, or forgettable after a few seconds. Plus, professional photographers have a keen eye for small, even miniscule, details or color issues that can be corrected during printing and production.

3. Long-Term Dividends. Invest now to earn dividends down the road. Yes, adding another team member naturally adds another expense to your campaign, but that amount is a small percentage of the overall cost of product marketing. An expert image produced by an expert pro can make a difference between this quarter’s loss and next quarter’s gain. An expertly crafted image by the right pro has a higher likelihood of making a greater impact on your customers. Plus, the image can be designed to used in multiple forms and media.

4. An Outside Perspective. Having a fresh, outside perspective is always helpful when considering the overall sales effort for any product or the branding campaign for a company. Often times, executing a project entirely with in-house staff can dilute the power of the final campaign or make it bland. And these days, bland doesn’t draw the attention of consumers, nor does it make them want to buy.
 Finally, while new innovations in digital technology have brought photography to almost anyone interested, only professional photographers will bring thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of dollars in equipment to capture the myriad technical details involved in crafting an artistically great photograph. While often unnoticed in the 30-second window we have to make an impact on our consumers’ minds, these technical differences and creativity are often the precise factors that draw viewers to an image in the first place. In essence, equipment and technique matter, just like expertise, creativity and a new perspective.


Based in Baton Rouge, La., David Humphreys’ studio includes equipment for shooting high-end digital as well as 35 mm, 2-1/4 in., 4 x 5 in., and 8 x10 in. film. He also has a state-of-the-art suite for image retouching, digital enhancement, and high-end color printing for art, décor prints and display graphics.


5. Equipment and Technique. Finally, while new innovations in digital technology have brought photography to almost anyone interested, only professional photographers will bring thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of dollars in equipment to capture the myriad technical details involved in crafting an artistically great photograph. While often unnoticed in the 30-second window we have to make an impact on our consumers’ minds, these technical differences and creativity are often the precise factors that draw viewers to an image in the first place. In essence, equipment and technique matter, just like expertise, creativity and a new perspective.

 HumphreysHeadShotDavid Humphreys has been a professional photographer for more than 30 years—photographing people, products and places around the world. He has been recognized for his work by many organizations, winning such awards as, most recently, a national ADDY for black and white photography from the American Advertising Federation,  the Photo District News Award from Nikon, the Communications Arts Award for advertising, and the Pete Goldsby Award. (