Randy Hufford, owner of Limited Editions Maui, does and has done just about everything related to photography, art and printing. Hufford started shooting and developing film at an early age and by the time he was 16 he picked up his first professional paycheck for $500 from Hobie.
“I took pictures of a pro skateboarder sponsored by Hobie skating in a pool with the tuxedo he got married in, and Hobie paid me for one 35mm slide from the shoot,” recalls Hufford. “I got a clue that this was fun and I started doing a lot of surf photography.”
But Hufford wasn’t content with run-of-the-mill surf photography. He pioneered nighttime surf photography, building a strobe inside a water housing for unique stop-motion action photography. He was recognized for his work by Surfing Magazine as a progressive surfing photographer.
Around that time, Hufford met his wife, Becky. They lived in a camper and camped out wherever the surf was good, capturing the surf scene and basically living a Bohemian lifestyle in Hawaii.
The Huffords traded their camper for a more permanent abode in a guest cottage, where they turned a closet into a darkroom. Though they weren’t actively seeking out enlargement and photo processing business, people found them and their demand necessitated a larger and more operational lab.
“People were knocking on my door at 10 at night, so we moved down to central Maui and opened a photo lab,” says Hufford.
From there they built a growing and successful photo lab business to not only meet demand on the island, but to control their own images.
“The main reason I opened a photo lab is because as a photographer I didn’t have control over the entire image process. I wanted control over my image: dodge and burn, lighten and darken, adjust the color, make corrections and changes,” says Hufford. “The photo lab made me excel as a commercial photographer: shooting interiors, food, aerials. I could also provide finished mounted prints. Most photographers don’t realize that we’re in the most exciting time of photography because of the control you have with Photoshop, calibrated monitors, printers and all the stuff we can print on.”
With the advent of inkjet printing, Hufford says everything changed, mostly for the better since he was able both simplify and expand his offerings.
“After 25 years all that processing equipment was basically useless. We liquidated most of our equipment and I moved my studio to a rural area on Maui in a pole house. We replaced a big photo lab with one 44” inkjet printer,” says Hufford. “A lot of people don’t realize how powerful one inkjet printer can be. Those machines are like printing money; you can output so many prints without the labor. I can generate as much income as a $5 million lab with just one 44″ printer.”
As mentioned earlier, Hufford has done just about every type of photography and every aspect of the process, from capture to finishing, but he says his passion is education. Hufford holds classes each year at a facility called the Institute of Visual Arts.
“All we do is go out and shoot. It reminds of when we lived in our camper, because I forget everything else and just go out and shoot and create images. We just did a class on shooting HDR panoramas and in a week I shot around 60-80 panoramas, each composed of 70-150 images stitched together,” says Hufford. “It’s so much fun to create such powerful images. When I shot interiors in the past with film it meant 300 to 500 bucks in Polaroids and a whole slew of strobe lights. Now I can go in and shoot HDR, pick up the ambient light of the room and see the exposure outside the window which I couldn’t do with film.”
In addition to the Institute of Visual Arts, Hufford has produced a number of educational DVDs on finishing, inks and media, digital art enhancement, marketing giclees, calibration, fine art photography and processing HDR panoramas. Hufford has also come up with a product called the Dual Edge Ripper to create unique deckled edges on fine art papers.
“It’s amazing the amount of things we can output now. I’ve been testing a backlit panel with LEDs that light the edge of the Plexiglas so it lights evenly. The LEDs are ten times brighter than they used to be, they’re full spectrum so there’s no color cast and the images have more dimension, plus they’re dimmable,” explains Hufford. “We’ve been experimenting with it in the fine art market where we put the art in a frame and just plug it. They have so much dimension that it feels like you can walk into them.”
Hufford is obviously busy with everything a photographer and educator can possibly do, but he’s not too busy for his favorite pursuit: creating photographic art.
“There’s a place down the road called Grandma’s Coffee House with the best breakfast in town, which is decorated with my images. The heliport nearby has hundreds of tourists come in every day. I put some of my prints and backlit panels there as well, and having my work at both places helps sell my work. I’ve been working with other businesses where I help them by decorating their offices from which I get additional exposure,” says Hufford.