Bird’s Eye View

Photographing for wide-format graphics requires some extra know-how.

I recently completed a large-format installation at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport. The client was advertising on the back wall directly behind the baggage claim area. The final installation included wall graphics and 3D cutouts, as well as 360-degree image wraps around columns. The full wall area was 971 x 103.5 feet and the image I needed to create was 415 x 103.5 feet.

wide format airport installation

The first part of the process – the actual installation location – is usually the most intimidating for photographers who aren’t used to shooting for large format. Often it’s not a simple single surface, but much more complicated. For example, this area also included a baggage claim window, a large advertising display screen, a column in the middle of the wall, and the actual baggage claim conveyor belt system. As the photographer, we normally don’t have access to the location. Knowing as many details about it as possible, plus having a photograph of the installation location, is useful for conceptually trying to decide how to capture the best image with the right angle and the appropriate size.

wide format airport

The image was merged using Adobe Lightroom CC Photo Merge and then brought into Adobe Photoshop to add some minor effects the client requested. I provided a final layered PSD file to the printer so they could make any further adjustments, if needed, for printing. The final print resolution was 32 dpi. Yep, 32 dpi!

Check out more large-format photography tips from Billy Elkins.

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