I ran a website called Printerville for a while in the mid-2000s, but a decade ago, I ceased publishing new work there. The higher end of the desktop photo printer market had matured, and companies were no longer coming out regularly with new models. For example, at the beginning of 2020, the current set of printers from Canon and Epson—HP left this part of market long ago—had been around for five years. Only in the last year has there been any activity in this space, and I wrote a little bit about that here on the site:
With those announcements, I received lots of questions from folks who were interested in the idea of printing, and were wondering about how to even start thinking about buying a printer. I’ve been sending out an email to them witha few basic thoughts regarding things to think about when choosing a printer—or whether you should just use an online print service. Given the constant interest in this topic, it seemed worth publishing here. Read more »
Since writing about Epson’s new photo inkjet line back in April, I’ve gotten a lot of email, mostly from readers curious about the SureColor P900, the 17-inch version (and its 13-inch sibling, the P700). I’m happy to say that the first shipments of the P900 appear to be dribbling into the States. Both models were supposed to be available by early summer, but it does seem that the pandemic wreaked havoc on manufacturing and shipping channels.
All that said, I’m not sure about how full the channel actually is at the moment. I have a P900 arriving today, but it was ordered five months ago. I also know of a few other folks who’ve received P700s in the past 60 days, but Adorama and B&H have both the printers back-ordered. My advice to anyone looking for these units would be to order one from your preferred source, to get into the queue. I believe that a big part of the reason they’re back-ordered is that most arriving units are being sent right back out to folks who preordered theirs.
June 10, 2020 by Rick LePage & filed under Printing
I recently had a discussion about printing with Jeff Carlson and Kirk McElhearn for their PhotoActive podcast. The episode, “What to Print,” covered a wide range of topics: we chatted about how I choose which photos to print, why I feel that printing is important to your growth as a photographer, and what it means to call yourself an artist. It was a fun and lively exchange (and yes, Jeff has finally bought a printer!).
As many readers know, I feel quite strongly about the power of the photographic print. It doesn’t matter if you print to your own device or upload to an online service. In this day of small screens and Instagram, Flickr and 500px, we have lost some of the tactile magic that we get in seeing our photographs on paper. There are times when I worry about what will happen to the snapshots and artistic photos we all take over the course of our lives; the digital ‘shoebox’ just doesn’t feel as real to me as the actual ones that many of us grew up with. (I wrote a piece on my personal blog a few years ago, A Life, Photographed, about why the print is such an important part of our lives.)
Ben and I have spoken with Jeff and Kirk before on PhotoActive, and I love their short, focused approach to podcasts. The episodes are only about 30 minutes in length, and they move quickly.
If you’re interested at all about printing, please give it a listen. As I noted during the episode — and in my recent post about the West photo project — I have been printing quite a bit more recently. I should have a review of the new Epson inkjets later this summer, and I am also working on a short book for CDP Press about printing, which we’re hoping to have out later this year.
Elsa Dorfman, the photographer best-known for her portraits captured with a 20×24-inch Polaroid camera, passed away this week at the age of 83. We wrote a little bit about her in our January newsletter, in reference to Errol Morris’ delightful documentary from 2017, The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography.
Living in Cambridge, Mass. (the hometown of Polaroid), Dorfman was a master of the Polaroid 20×24 large-format camera, a behemoth of which only a handful were made. Over the course of 30+ years, Dorfman photographed family members and celebrities in her studio with the large camera, usually preparing two photographs on the instant-film format: one for her and the other for her subject. Now, as supplies of the film are drying up, and with her own advancing age, Dorfman is winding her studio down. (If you’d like a deeper dive into Dorfman and her work, Harvard Magazine did an extensive feature on her, “The Portraitist,” a few years ago.)
I have been in a photographic funk of late, unable to get into the right frame of mind to shoot. Last week, in the midst of this struggle, I knew that I needed to force myself back into my photography practice. I gave myself an assignment: go out for an afternoon and challenge myself, using one lens at a single focal length.
I use this exercise from time to time, to push me out of my comfort zone and get my mind unstuck. I’m not looking for great photographs; I’m looking to practice the art of seeing. And the great thing about choosing a single focal length — whether using one setting on a zoom or a prime lens — is that it forces me to move around a scene. If I find that I’m receptive to the exercise (it doesn’t always work), it can help me see.
April 24, 2020 by Rick LePage & filed under Printing
Epson this week announced the SureColor P700 and P900 printers, updates to their SureColor 13- and 17-inch, pro-level photo printer line. The new desktop printers offer a smaller footprint; a new pigment-based inkset with 10 inks; improved color gamut; and enhanced connectivity and paper-handling options. In addition — and possibly the most important enhancement for many photographers — the P700/P900 printheads have dedicated channels for the matte and photo black inks, eliminating the previous generation’s ink- and time-consuming process of switching black inks when moving between glossy and matte paper types.
When speaking with students, Ben and I will often talk about the importance of projects as an element in one’s photographic growth. While we tend to talk about this in the context of practicing, projects can take on a life of their own, and can help motivate you, either when you’re out in the field, or simply to get you out shooting. It can also be the type of thing that can fine tune your ultimate photographic vision.
A project can be anything thematic, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be of tangible ‘things,’ although it can be, like Ben’s tree project, which he mentioned in Chapter 9 of Complete Digital Photography (that chapter is available as a free download from the book support page):
One way to make yourself practice, and to breathe new life into familiar locations, is to give yourself an assignment. You can choose a subject—old cars, doorways, local flowers—or maybe a phrase or a word—contentment; no pain, no gain; a penny saved. The subject matter or word doesn’t have to mean anything to anyone else, and you can interpret it any way you want. The idea is simply to give yourself some way to frame your view of your location. Having a specific point of view or photographic goal will often make you see familiar ground in a new way. I like shooting trees, so I keep an ongoing tree project. Often, going out with the idea of shooting trees takes the pressure off; I don’t have to worry about finding subject matter. The world is a big place, and limiting it can make shooting much simpler.
In a world where photographs are everywhere, displayed largely via web pages and small screens, the traditional career tracks for professional photographers have fallen by the wayside. So what do you have to do to make photography your livelihood in today’s world? I recently moderated a lively discussion on this topic with two professional photographers based in Portland, Oregon: Hudson Henry and Dan Hawk. In this short, thirty-minute video, we talk about how each photographer turned their passion for photography into a career, how to keep your outlook fresh, and the role of diversification in building a successful business. Click the link below to watch.