Colorado Photo Gallery Built on HQ Photography, Printing and Framing

Bald Eagle Photo by Wil Harmsen
In addition to the work of renowned Colorado landscape and wildlife photographers, The Canyon Gallery in Montrose, Colo., also features the photography of owner Wil Harmsen.

You might say that art is in Wil Harmsen’s blood. In 2001 his grandparents donated a large and important collection of Western art to the Denver Art Museum. Harmsen keeps that tradition alive in the western Colorado town of Montrose, which sits near some of the most spectacular scenery in the state.

The Canyon Gallery
The Canyon Gallery, Montrose, Colo.

Harmsen and his wife, Amy, opened The Canyon Gallery in Montrose about four years ago. The gallery focuses on landscape and wildlife photography, representing the work of some of Colorado’s top photographers, including Glenn Randall of Boulder, Andy Cook of Colorado Springs, Vince Farnsworth of Montrose, and Doug Sprock of Grand Junction. Harmsen’s photography, as well as that of Idaho’s Jess Lee, is also featured in the gallery.

Printing at The Canyon Gallery“It’s been a childhood dream of mine to own my own gallery. I grew up around art; my grandparents owned one of the biggest collections of Western art,” says Harmsen. “Four years ago a couple of buildings became available in downtown Montrose. It was a terrible time to open a gallery, but a great time to purchase real estate, so we bought the buildings and opened the gallery. I’m realizing a childhood dream and it’s been fantastic.”

An important component of the gallery’s success, says Harmsen, has been in providing print production and finishing services.

The Canyon Gallery Printing“I knew that being a photography gallery and just trying to sell art was probably not a good idea, which is why we got into printing and framing and creating a product from start to finish. If art wasn’t selling, we would print and frame other people’s images, and it’s worked like a dream. Printing and framing is probably why we’re 150 percent up over last year,” says Harmsen. “Art is a want, not a need, so we started printing and framing right from the beginning.”

Harmsen was referred to LexJet for his printing needs by Gary Haines, Grizzly Creek Gallery, Georgetown, Colo. The Harmsens had already been experimenting with printing before they opened the gallery and finding the right source ensured a successful print process.

The Canyon Gallery Print Room
The Canyon Gallery print room: two Epson Stylus Pro 9900s from LexJet and LexJet inkjet media.

“Printing is probably the hardest part about photography: getting what you have on the screen to print on the paper. What I really liked was that LexJet already had the ICC profiles, so it was very easy for me to go in, get the paper and profiles and print high-quality images. It was super-easy, compared to how I was doing it before making my own profiles,” says Harmsen. “Our print quality has been fantastic and we’ve never had a problem. Whether we’re using Sunset Metallic paper, canvas or anything else, the ICC profiles from LexJet work.”

The Canyon Gallery runs two Epson Stylus Pro 9900s and a complete framing and finishing operation in the three-story, split-level gallery. Harmsen estimates that printing and finishing represents 60 percent of their business.

Photo by Wil Harmsen
Photo by Wil Harmsen, The Canyon Gallery.

“We find that we’re constantly expanding printing and framing because we do so much of it, including canvas gallery wraps on Sunset Stretcher Bars, which is the easiest canvas stretching method we’ve ever come across,” he says. “And, if we run into a weird issue, as we did using Sunset Select Gloss Canvas because it has a unique finish with unique requirements, we can call Michael any time for help. In this case, I called Michael and he gave me specific directions. Lo and behold, I did what he told me to do and it printed perfectly.”

Harmsen says the gallery’s three best inkjet media sellers are Sunset Photo eSatin Paper, Sunset Photo Metallic Paper and Sunset Select Matte Canvas.

Photo by Wil Harmsen, The Canyon Gallery.
Photo by Wil Harmsen, The Canyon Gallery.

“I love the Metallic paper, and when it’s printed in black-and-white it’s unbelievable,” he says. “The shipping is also amazing. Knowing that you can typically get product quickly really helps a small business, especially a gallery where cash flow is very difficult. If we’re running out of eSatin we can get it right away and we don’t have to have a bunch of it sitting on the floor waiting to be used. I did my research before we opened the gallery and really spent a lot of money and time trying to get that process nailed. When we came upon LexJet, it just clicked.”

All would be for naught, however, if Harmsen didn’t concentrate on customer service. For Harmsen, customer service can be boiled down to three principles: Listen, set proper expectations and put yourself in the customer’s shoes. “Adhere to those three principles and you’ll be successful, and if our customer is not satisfied, we’ll make it right,” he adds.

Will Harmsen Colorado
Photo by Wil Harmsen, The Canyon Gallery.

Based on those principles, in addition to the quality output and finishing The Canyon Gallery provides, Harmsen has found that positive word-of-mouth has spread beyond Montrose into the prime tourist spot of nearby Telluride.

“We decided this past year not to do any traditional advertising. Unless you have a specific market you’re trying to reach, a sporadic ad doesn’t work. We quite advertising and we’re up 150 percent,” says Harmsen. “Amy is really good at Facebook and Twitter, so we’re always putting new artwork on social media. We have found that social media is our best form of advertising.”

Photo by Wil Harmsen, The Canyon Gallery.
Photo by Wil Harmsen, The Canyon Gallery.

Cross-promotions with local businesses and the photographers the gallery represents and local photographers have also been successful marketing tools. For instance, The Pour House has a wine tasting once a month at The Canyon Gallery, promoted through the local liquor store’s monthly newsletter and social media. The Canyon Gallery also showcases a Photographer of the Month, which brings people back to see who the next featured photographer is, helping ensure repeat traffic to The Canyon Gallery’s Facebook page.

The Canyon Gallery also plans to offer photography classes and workshops, taking advantage of all the natural beauty that surrounds them in the San Juan Mountains.

“Every year we try to expand on something we’re doing, or bring in something new, like the photography classes, where we’ll cover Photoshop, Lightroom, how to use the camera, fall color shots, photographing bald eagles at Ridgway Reservoir, and more,” says Harmsen. “We try to be broad in what we offer, but if we’re going to do something we’re going to do it darn good.”

Stories Exposed in the Field at the Rockford Art Museum

Large Format Photo Prints
Brian Hampton describes his close encounter with a silverback gorilla at the opening of Rockford Art Museum’s feature exhibition, Exposed: Akerlund, Hampton, Nordlof.

Brian Hampton can tell you some hair-raising stories from his photography travels around the world, and he did at the opening of the Rockford Art Museum’s feature exhibition called Exposed: Akerlund, Hampton, Nordlof.

Large Format Inkjet Photography
Brian Hampton’s African wildlife photography on display at the Rockford Art Museum.

The exhibition opened the weekend of April 26 highlighting the work of Nels Akerlund, Hampton and Bradley Nordlof. Each brought a distinctive style and focus to the exhibition. Akerlund is known for his unique portraits of prominent people in the Rockford area, Hampton for his wildlife photography and Nordlof for his landscape photography. Each artist gave a short lecture, fielding questions from attendees about the images brought to life with wide-format inkjet printing.

Hampton fielded a lot of questions about the shot he captured of a silverback gorilla in Rwanda. It was the largest print selected from Hampton’s collection for the exhibition at 44″ x 66″, printed on LexJet Sunset Photo eSatin Paper.

Large Format Landscape Photography
Bradley Nordlof explains his amazing landscape photography at the Rockford Art Museum.

The capture is stunning, but the story behind what happened after the capture is, in hindsight, both terrifying and humorous. Hampton relates that the group trekking up the mountain to see the gorillas was warned by their guide to look out for any nervous behavior amongst the gorillas. Hampton took the warning to heart and told his wife, Donna, to “keep the video rolling in case something happens; it might be double indemnity on the insurance,” Hampton recalls.

Sure enough, that big silverback got nervous. Hampton could hear the guide saying, “He’s nervous. He’s nervous. Move back. Move back.” Hampton was about 30 feet away at the time when the gorilla charged. The guide told Hampton to hit the ground, cover up his head and not to look at him.

Now fully engaged with the ground below him, head covered, Hampton peered out of the corner of his eye to see two hairy feet right next to him.

Printing Portraits
Nels Akerlund discusses his distinct portraiture style at the Rockford Art Museum.

“I heard something go snap, then seconds later he whacked me in the back with a sapling tree I was standing next to. It didn’t really hurt, but I wondered what he was going to do next. After 10 or 15 seconds he started walking away. It looked like he made his point and he was going to move on. I stood up, the guide came up to me laughing and gave me high fives,” recalls Hampton. “I turned to Donna and asked if she got the video. The guide laughed and said, ‘She was running so fast the other way that there’s no way she took any video.'”

And so it is when you’re in the bush, so to speak, whether it’s Africa or Alaska, two of Hampton’s favorite places to shoot.

Each of the photographers displayed around 25 images at the exhibition. Hampton’s images were loaned out from a restaurant, a jeweler and a corporate headquarters that proudly display his Africa work. The images generally ranged in size from 30″ x 40″ to 40″ x 60″, with some exceptions such as the silverback gorilla close-encounter image.

“All of the images looked very nice because the art gallery has new lighting, high ceilings and black walls; the images really popped,” says Hampton.

Capturing and Printing Wildlife for Charity

Limited edition coffee table book
This photo, featured in Brian Hampton's book, Captured I: Africa, was the 2008 Grand Prize winner of the annual Nature's Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Award. Book photo by Nels Akerlund Photography.

Brian Hampton’s coffee table books are much more than just coffee table books; they’re works of art that benefit four worthy charities: the Rochester, Minn. chapter of the Ronald McDonald House; Carpenter’s Place in Rockford, Ill.; the Salvation Army; and Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in the Everglades.

The books – Captured I: Africa and Captured II: Everglades – are the culmination of Hampton’s global wildlife photography, meticulously captured, printed on LexJet Sunset Photo eSatin Paper, bound and packaged.

Both are available in 12″ x 12″ and 18″ x 18″ sizes, which retail for $1,895 and $2,500 respectively. There are only 15 copies of the 18″ x 18″ version available.

Printing a coffee table book
Brian Hampton prints the coffee table book's pages three-up on LexJet Sunset Photo eSatin Paper.

“I don’t make a profit on the books, nor do I want to: 40 percent goes to the causes and the rest goes toward helping me recover my costs on the project. I want to raise as much money as I can for those organizations,” explains Hampton. “The books are printed using the highest quality printers, either a Canon iPF8300 or an Epson 9900 through ImagePrint RIP software, on Sunset Photo eSatin Paper. I like detail. For that reason a glossy paper would be my favorite for detail, but it falls short because it’s generally too touchy; it can show a dimple or wrinkle so you have to be very careful handling it. Sunset Photo eSatin shows very good detail, and it’s a friendlier to handle.”

Everglades coffee table bookHampton prints the pages and sends them to Mel Englander, Englander Studios in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to be bound and packaged. The books come in a velvet case inside a black box, to which Hampton applies the book cover image, printed on Photo Tex from LexJet.

A successful entrepreneur and corporate turn-around artist who has been CEO of five companies over the past 40 years, his success in business allowed him to pursue two of his favorite pastimes – photography and philanthropy – and then blend both with the creation of his wildlife photography books.

“When I first started shooting I began with an area in the Everglades where we have a home. I bought a digital camera and started taking pictures of wildlife, mostly birds at first. Six years later I had a little over 20,000 images, and in between that time my wife and I took several trips to Africa. I got more involved in wildlife photography and my wife got into HD video production,” explains Hampton. “I produced the Africa book first and then began working on the Everglades book. At the same time I began thinking about ways to raise money for non-profit organizations.”

Africa coffee table bookOne of Hampton’s shots from Africa, which captures a lioness charging through the water on its way to a kill, was the 2008 Grand Prize winner of the annual Nature’s Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Awards, for which it was featured in a special exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. that same year.

Hampton is working on a third book based on his travels to Alaska. Hampton says he has 50-60 images that are “book-worthy,” and he would like to take a photography trip in the winter to capture the unique snow-covered beauty of Alaska and its wildlife that time of year.

Alaska coffee table book
Brian Hampton is working on a third book documenting his trips to Alaska.

Hampton adds that perhaps the most difficult aspect of producing the books was choosing from the literally tens of thousands of images he’s captured over the years. When Hampton is out in the field, he shoots with a Canon 1-series professional camera with “L” glass. As he puts it: “I only shoot with the best possible equipment from the best possible locations. The nature of photography, especially wildlife photography, is that you have very little time to capture the perfect moment so you had better be prepared.”

For more information about the limited-edition, custom books and the charities they support, go to

Wildlife Photographer Brian Hampton Shoots to Thrill

Some photographers like to go where the wild things are. They know that with a little patience and luck, they just might find themselves at the right place in the right time to take that one perfect shot—the shot that lets them capture wild animals for display in their homes. If you think about it, wildlife photography can be considered a much more humane form of big-game trophy hunting. Armed only with a high-quality camera and lenses, all a photographer takes from the “hunt” are some incredible photographs—and memories of adventures that few people ever get to experience.  

Many of Brian Hampton’s images decorate the lobby, hallways, and meeting rooms of the corporate headquarters of Cleo Communications, where Hampton is the CEO. Read more in LexJet’s In Focus newsletter Vol. 2, No. 11
Many of Brian Hampton’s images decorate the lobby, hallways, and meeting rooms of the corporate headquarters of Cleo Communications.

One wildlife photographer with a passion for shooting big animals is businessman Brian Hampton. He is currently CEO of Cleo Communications, a software firm in Rockford, IL. But over the past few years, Hampton has been devoting more and more of his time to photography—traveling with his wife to remote corners of the world to capture some of the most magnificent creates on the planet. His wife shares his enthusiasm for wildlife photography and shoots high-definition video.

When Brian returns to the States, he likes to share what he’s seen and experienced. So he prints his best photographs in such a big and detailed way that viewers can get a sense of what it must have been like to be there when each image was captured.

Hampton is a huge fan of Epson printers, and owns both a 44-in. Epson Stylus Pro 9900 and a 64-in. Stylus Pro 11880. He also owns a laminator that he uses to mount his prints for framing. 

His prints have been displayed in the corporate headquarters of Cleo Communications, in the homes of nature lovers, in a popular Italian restaurant, and in a special exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.

This last honor came about because of Hampton’s remarkable action photo of a lioness charging out of a river on its way to a kill.  The photo was named Grand Prize winner in the 2008 Nature’s Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Awards.

Hampton captured the shot in Botswana’s Okavango Delta using a Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II with a full-frame sensor and a 600 mm lens using the AI Servo mode.

After the image was chosen as Grand Prize award-winner, the shot was published in Nature’s Best Photography magazine and as the shot of the day on both the AOL and MSN home pages.

But for the exhibition at the Smithsonian, Hampton chose to make his own 5 x 8 ft. print. Using onOne Software’s Genuine Fractals Photoshop plug-in to up-res the file and ColorByte Software’s ImagePrint RIP to optimize print quality, he output the image at 5 ft. x 8 ft. on his Epson Stylus Pro 11880. He chose to print on LexJet’s Sunset Photo eSatin paper because “People like to see detail in the printed images, and that’s what I strive for. Sunset Photo eSatin paper shows a lot of detail and it’s more durable than other glossy papers.”  Hampton mounted the print onto Gator board using his wide-format laminator.


Brian Hampton’s Grand-Prize-winning image of a lioness in Botswana was displayed in an exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History that honored winners of the 2008 Nature’s Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Awards. Hampton created the 5 ft. x 8 ft. exhibition print himself, using onOne Software’s Genuine Fractals, ImagePrint RIP software, LexJet Sunset Photo eSatin paper, and a  64-in. Epson Stylus Pro 11880 printer. Hampton mounted the print onto Gator board using his wide-format laminator. Read the full story in LexJet’s In Focus Vol. 4, No. 1.
(Photo in the Smithsonian courtesy of Jonathan Freligh)

Hampton is also using Sunset Photo eSatin paper for the series of images he prints for a frequently updated 15-print exhibition at Giovanni’s restaurant in Rockford, IL. The restaurant has installed lighting to properly light the 15 images, which include fourteen 30 x 40 in. framed prints and one 40 x 60 in. print. Hampton will periodically update the theme of the 15-image display to show images from his travels to wildlife habitats in Africa, South America, and the American West as well as under the ocean.  

Brian Hampton also displays his images in Giovanni’s Restaurant in Rockford, IL. He worked with a custom frame company to create re-usable frames for fourteen 30 x 40 in. prints and one 40 x 60 in. print. He plans to change out the images to provide a continuous change in theme and scenery. Shown here is an image from a series of underwater shots Hampton captured during a recent dive trip to the Bahamas.  Read the full story in LexJet’s Expand newsletter Vol. 4, No. 7.
For Giovanni’s Restaurant in Rockford, IL. Brian Hampton worked with a custom frame company to create re-usable frames for fourteen 30 x 40 in. prints and one 40 x 60 in. print. He plans to change out the images to provide a continuous change in theme and scenery. Shown here is an image Hampton captured during a recent dive trip to the Bahamas.

An experienced scuba diver, Hampton recently captured images while exploring the reefs and underwater canyons in the Bahamas and near the island of Bonnaire in the Netherland Antilles near South America. He and his wife are planning future expeditions to locations where they can photograph whales, turtles, dolphins, and other large sea creatures.

Many of Hampton’s images have been donated to help raise money for worthy causes. Plus, he gave one print to a young girl who had seen the lioness image when she was visiting the Smithsonian with her father. She said her father had been so struck by the image that she wanted to give it to him as a birthday gift. 

Hampton understands that many people are fascinated by wildlife photographs because the pictures give them a glimpse into parts of Planet Earth that they may never experience. But he says people often want to know the story behind each image, asking questions such as: “How close were you? Where were you standing? Were you in any danger?”


Because Hampton has such vivid memories of his experiences in the wild, he is teaming up with his daughter/author to write a book. He says he wants people not only to enjoy the pictures in the photo book, but also to connect with the circumstances behind the images.

The next trip on the agenda is to Rwanda where Hampton and his wife hope to capture images of mountain gorillas. Whether or not they succeed will depend on whether they are lucky enough find themselves in the right place at the right moment.

One important lesson Hampton has learned as a wildlife photographer is that “Quite often when you go out to shoot one thing, you end up with something entirely unexpected.” You could say it’s simply the nature of the beast.

To learn more about Brian Hampton’s adventures in wildlife photography, visit his website, and subscribe to the newsletter he publishes quarterly.

Or, read the articles that have appeared in LexJet’s In Focus and Expand Newsletters:

 The Smithsonian Displays Brian Hampton’s Grand-Prize-Winning Photo Super-Sized

Underwater Décor

Bringing Wildlife to Life in Large Format