Home printing is easy. A click of a button and – like magic – the pretty pixels inside your computer slide out the mouth of your printer. As long as the ink hasn’t smeared, most of us won’t give the process another moment’s thought.
The truth is, printing is an art in itself. Photographers have spent the best years of their lives trying to achieve continuity between their monitor (which emits light) and paper (which reflects it).
The delicate nature of Katrina’s bright, high-key signature style makes this balance even trickier to achieve. The image has to “pop” without blowing out. It has to have pleasing contrast, without crushing the shadows. The white shirts need to be crisp and light, without blending into the background and leaving a family of heads and hands to drift about in empty space.
Variation between screens is another pitfall. Like snowflakes, no two are alike. Your screen might be a 28 inches of eye bursting brightness, sharpness and saturation…but is it accurate? Unless you’re in the game of spending thousands of dollars on a perfectly uniform, wide gamut monitor, it’s unlikely. And that can be the difference between olive skin tones onscreen, and a sunburnt cherry tomato in print.
At the studio, our retouching workstations are calibrated to simulate the mediums we print on. We know the quirks of each of our products inside out, and retouch an image specifically for its finished medium. We know which ones need extra sharpening, less magenta or more detail in the shadows. Colour profiles are applied to tell a specific printer how to interpret colours and tones.
Years are spent testing different labs to find the ones that can consistently and accurately bring to life the images we work so hard to create onscreen. Each paper stock, embellishment and finish is specifically selected to compliment the photography style.
From camera, to monitor, to printer, to paper. The finicky, esoteric interactions between this digital orchestra means that the artwork can only ever be as good as the weakest link in this chain. At the studio, we control what happens to the image with an amazing degree of accuracy. What we cannot do is predict or guarantee what an image may look like across other untested screens and printers. Rest assured there are no happy accidents in your final print. It’s unfair to hope that the poor printing kiosk at Big W or Walmart can recreate a workflow we have spent years perfecting.