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An Aqueous Journey

(June 2011) posted on Tue Jun 07, 2011

Photographer-turned-print provider Bill Louf finds wide-format success.

click an image below to view slideshow

By Paula Yoho

“Now that you can buy a printer for five grand, though, everybody thinks they’re a printer. I had a couple of customers who were retired dentists who became photographers. They were coming to me in the beginning and then all of the sudden they stopped coming to me because they went out and bought their own printers. Some of these people don’t want to buy anything over a 24 inch, so they have me print anything that needs a 44-inch printer.”

The coffee connection
However, Louf – who considers himself first and foremost a landscape photographer – is something of an expert networker, and he’s not one to turn away a commercial print job when it comes his way. And that seems to happen more often than he initially planned when he relocated to the desert to focus on printing fine art.

His coffee habit, for instance, scored him a recent job with a local Starbucks franchise located inside the town’s Hyatt Resort.

Louf recounts the evolution of his partnership with the coffee shop: “Back when it was a corporate store, one of the managers wanted to create their own coffee blend, so they came up with the idea of this Sedona Red Special Blend. Starbucks corporate approved the formula but wouldn’t help them market it.”

Eventually, Starbucks closed down the corporate store, but the Hyatt owners jumped through hoops to license the location as a franchisee. Once they got the nod, one of the new manager’s first priorities was to resurrect the Sedona Red brand. Which is when Louf came into the picture.

“I’m one of their customers, so they see me all the time – I go for coffee there every morning. The Hyatt said to me, ‘We’re going to come up with the blend and start selling it, and we want a label.’ Nancy, the manager, asked if I had any images of Snoopy Rock, a red rock formation that you can see from the Starbucks. I told her about one I shot after a thunderstorm with a rainbow coming right out of the top of the rock formation, against a dramatic gray sky.” The photo in question, which Louf shot using his Nikon D300S camera, would eventually become the “face” of the Sedona Red blend – but not without a dramatic overhaul.