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The Fine Art of Success

(April 2008) posted on Wed Apr 09, 2008

Exploring the potential profits in fine-art printmaking.

click an image below to view slideshow

By Clare Baker

He credits his unique style in part to a lack of finances when he first got started. 'Retouching on film,' he explains, 'was something that was always super-expensive, so that's why I developed the fish-eye style. My lighting would always add to that look. Then, as digital cameras got better, I used these techniques with digital technology.' Simons started out with the Nikon D70 digital SLR, then moved on to the D2x, and now shoots with the 12.1-megapixel Nikon D3 DSLR and a 14-24 mm lens. 'With the D3,' he says, 'I can shoot almost in the dark and I can get a great photo. I can shoot at really high ISO speeds and get very low amounts of noise and a highly saturated image.' While he shoots primarily digitally, he will occasionally shoot with film, using a Mamiya RZ67 medium-format camera with Fujifilm film, then scanning the film on an Imacon (now Hasselblad) scanner; he then does the necessary tweaks or manipulations in Photoshop.

That’s essentially where Simons' role in creating his images ends. For the printing of his images, he relies on a small print shop in New Mexico that uses an Epson Stylus Pro 9800 to output his images onto Epson photographic papers in various finishes. 'For the amount of work I’m printing, it makes sense to do it out-of-house,' Simons explains. 'I don't want to have to babysit a printer and worry about its upkeep without a constant demand for images. I also don't want to produce a big print with one little blemish on it and have to start over using my own stuff [materials and consumables].'

Simons admits, however, that there are certain drawbacks to handing off your work to an outside printer, especially when you’re not always thrilled with the results. 'I've had a lot of issues with color correcting and proofing my images. If you're not calibrating on the same machinery as your print provider, or if they’re not taking those differences into account, you'll see different things and you'll have problems. Also, my print provider hasn’t kept a history of the settings he used in printing my final images, so I never know if the next print he produces will match the last one.'