The past few weeks I’ve been chattering away about photographing fire dancers, time on Route 66, trip plans, etc. Amazingly enough, I actually do run a business as well, but it seems I don’t say too much about it on the blog. This post will help correct that.
Today I’m going to take you through, start to finish, the process I personally use for Giclee’ Reproductions of my client’s paintings. Ah yes, you might not even have known that the bulk of my clients are not photographers, but are painters instead. The whole business got started because my business partner, Ian Russell, was having some issues getting matched reproductions of his original works. The mismatches that were occurring were extremely noticeable, and you wouldn’t want to hang the original next to the mismatch. He never sold the mismatched pieces, but instead sent them back. That cost time and money, and diminished his opportunities to sell reproductions of his originals.
That’s where I came in. Ian prodded me for a few months about the idea of partnering up. In my prior life, engineering, I’d dealt with wide format reproduction equipment for a different need. Cell tower plots. Later, I dealt with color matching while producing cycling maps of Northern New Hampshire. The background was there, but for different purposes.
After nearly a year of doing repro work for many painters I’ve got my process down well, and it works. My clients walk away happy, and they’re able to resell reproductions of their original work at a fraction of the cost of the original. All good!
So, with all of the explanation out of the way……let’s talk process!
My Personal Work Flow for Creating Painting Reproductions
Given our gallery space we don’t have one of those amazing drum scanners out there. Instead, I’m running an Epson Perfection which does an amazing job. The bed isn’t huge, so how do you image a large painting? Simple, round up a good medium format photographer with a studio right down the road and have him take shots of the original painting.
Once Larry (the medium format photographer) has created a positive film the painter brings it by the gallery, and that’s when I get it scanned in!
So, the scanning and initial resize take place in Photoshop. I select the scanning resolution based on the size range the client gives to me. Usually I’ll scan at a higher resolution, just in case as I’ve found folks realize later that they did want to print larger. I keep the original scan, and the resized image for print together. Keeping the original scan takes up disk space, but it pays off in the long run.
Once I’ve saved out the scan I pop over to Lightroom. Yes, Lightroom is a “photographer’s” program, but it’s also an amazing image management program. I’ve created client folders within Lightroom for each client, and then sub folders for the original images and the custom print sizes.
Popping a few little keywords into Lightroom on import helps me keep track of clients’ pieces. For this piece I just popped in the artist’s name, a descriptive note (she didn’t tell me the name of the painting yet which I’ll add later), and a reminder for myself about what we’ll be reproducing on (canvas in this case).
Once the file has been copied to Lightroom it is then added to the particular client’s folder. The Collections feature in Lightroom makes dealing with many painters extremely easy! Currently I’m managing 29 “regulars” with Lightroom’s Collections, and I’m sure I could take that number much further if need be.
With the new piece imported to Lightroom I’m ready to do a test print. This morning I ran a small canvas swatch for Allison’s review. Once we establish that the color is a match with the original we can get into the final print. If I don’t have a match off the bat, if the positive was under or over exposed I can do some adjusting in Lightroom.
If we need to work further with the image I’ll export a copy to Photoshop and dig deeper into color correction there. Fortunately, the bulk of the shots provided by Larry are a match off the bat and no major correction work is required. Issues usually come up when clients shoot their own image with a digital camera in sub-optimal lighting, and that’s when I really have to break out Photoshop to match what’s on screen to the original painting. Even in those cases, it’s normally under an hour of my time!
When my client’s are satisfied with the proof and what’s on screen we’re ready to go. For final print reproduction I actually use Lightroom2 once again! It’s a great program for managing prints, running multiple pieces together, and I’ve had no issues with color management between it and the HP Z3100. Initially when I started out I used Photoshop to do all the print work, but I’ve found the ability to create custom layouts and then save them in Lightroom2 to be worth a great deal. Making custom print settings and then saving them as a Lightroom Template has saved me a good deal of time, and it keeps me from making mistakes while recreating settings over and over again!
So, there’s the whole workflow. Photoshop for scanning, saving the original high resolution piece, resizing and saving the print sized piece! After that the images are imported to and cataloged in Lightroom. Any corrections are initiated in Lightroom and saved back into it if Photoshop is used for the heavy lifting color correct.
The final part of the process? Printing the final piece. For most of my clients who paint, the reproductions are done on canvas. And I use Breathing Color’s Chromata White Canvas, and their newest Lyve canvas for the bulk of that work. Of course, special requests are always taken here, so other papers and canvases can be used at the customer’s request!
Want to see the whole process for yourself? Pop on by the gallery sometime and we’ll see what we can arrange!