Archive for the ‘Printing’ Category
Nowadays, pictures are ubiquitous and pervasive at the same time. Often, it doesn’t matter what is pictured. The fact is, pictures are everywhere we look—if and when we choose to look at them at all.
We see pictures gracing almost every page of magazines and newspapers. We see pictures gleaming on every click of the electronic web. We see pictures decorating, as it were, one block of street after another.
Yet, we never really think about how pictures seem to pop up all around us all the time. We’ve simply come to taking for granted that pictures are there where we are.
Of course, pictures don’t just magically appear—here, there and everywhere. It takes some sort of complicated and professional behind-the-scenes machination and maneuvering for each and every single one of them to be placed or installed where they are, where we can all see them.
Photographers are therefore necessarily connected to all sorts of publicly accessible media, outlets, and suppliers—an array of opportunities and possibilities to showcase and display photographs. With the right placement, photographers are able to target specific audiences.
But whatever media outlet a photographer decides to choose (and there are many of them—photographers and media alike), and whatever the aim may be—to inform, to motivate, to sell, or simply to showcase and to enrich, it cannot happen in a vacuum. It has to happen within a framework of the media.
In this sense, consider media and the context with which you are able to view them, as the legal and generally acceptable equivalent of graffiti walls. Sanctioned and allowed, a photographer’s commercial work, whether a single photograph or a group of photographs, acquires a sense of acceptable public presence, legitimacy even, with the transformative process of its legal (and professional) installation, to be openly seen by all and sundry.
We rarely get to see a photographic work in the process of installation. On the streets, it’s usually done at night or at times when there are the least number of people. In galleries and museums, it’s constructed and completed inside a cocoon of an enclosure—a temporary restricted area. On shop windows, it’s presentation is arranged behind shaded covers, even during down times. And in most other cases, it’s fixed-in ambush-style, stealthily putting it up when no one’s looking or paying any mind. Next thing we know, when we look up and look out, there it is—as if it has always been there.
But dressing up a place or an area or a location to show pictures takes careful and deliberate planning, time, effort and logistics. Because of this, any photographer whose work has been publicly displayed must have necessarily known a professional or two who happens to work in this strange, baffling and behind-the-scene line of business. They who work in this seemingly “invisible” industry makes things visible. They who are almost themselves magicians.
In one recent and successfully completed project, I had the opportunity to meet, interact, and work with just such a professional. Her name is Marisse Panlilio of MPGrafx. For our project, she expertly “handled” the media that securely held and prominently displayed the photographs on several two-front show windows, as well as the printing of collaterals that were hand-distributed.
Marisse has been working as a media producer and installer for professional creative artists (often serving as a bridge to their clients as well) for more than 10 years now. Also, within her sphere of interest and expertise, she’s a supplier and an experienced technical director for all sorts of events and functions such as concerts, shows, and private parties.
I caught up with Marisse Panlilio recently for a brief Q&A:
Dominique James: Tell me a bit about MPGrafx. How did you get it started and what sort of services do you offer?
Marisse Panlilio: I started MPGrafx as a business after I retired in 2003. I bought my wide-format printer in 2006. Since then, our offerings and services has expanded to include not only to large-format poster printing but also other several alternative media prints and installations such as vehicle wrapping and signs.
DJ: What did you have to do in order to be able to put up MPGrafx? What kind of education, training and experience are required?
MP: I studied graphic design with specialty in print at the Union County College in Cranford, New Jersey. I’m a certified wrap installer.
DJ: What are the biggest challenges or the difficulties that you encounter in your line of work?
MP: In this field, competition is very stiff. However, it is obvious that there is still a lack of qualified or experienced wrap installers. For instance, I have to make sure that I have to personally train my assistants. For me, conducting on-the-job training, and sharing my skills and knowledge, is one of the best forms of experience.
DJ: Who are some of the biggest clients you’ve worked with so far?
MP: My list of clients include Red Ribbon, Western Union, GMA Pinoy TV, TFC, Max’s of Manila, Fiesta Grill, Philam Merchandising, NJ State Library, to name a few.
DJ: What do clients usually tell you with the kind of professional work and world-class service that you provide? What feedback do you get?
MP: I make sure that I provide exceptional service and use only exceptional quality materials on our products. Clients appreciate the fact that we go way beyond our commitments, thereby going over and above their expectations. I take pleasure in delighting my clients.
DJ: What makes you and your company different from the others who provide similar products or services?
MP: I follow a very simple formula—my policy is to always provide world-class service using the highest quality materials at the best price.
DJ: What is your style or approach in dealing with the many different people whom you encounter in your business dealings?
MP: My years of experience has taught me to be understand the needs and goals of my clients, and to be always flexible in order to accommodate all types of requirements. This is how we earn their trust. To me, their accolades for the work we do speak volumes.
DJ: If you have the chance to establish the same business today, if you were going to start all over again, will you still do it? Why or why not?
MP: Yes, I would definitely be very happy to do the whole thing all over again.
DJ: What are the things in your line of work that people are always surprised to find out and discover? What are the things that they never expect from you?
MP: Clients and associates are almost always surprised that I am a certified wrap installer—that I studied for it and I can professionally cover uneven, rough, curved, angled, and all sorts of surfaces such as that of vehicles.
DJ: You seem to be a workaholic, and people see you working all the time; what would you consider are your peak working hours? Do you ever take days off from your work to relax? How do you spend your time when you’re not working?
MP: When it comes to creative work such as designing the presentation of photos and graphic elements for printing, I work best during late nights up until the wee hours of the morning. I feel my creative juices flowing freely during these times. When installing the materials for display, I work during the hours that are most convenient to the client, and whenever and whatever the practicality of the situation calls for. We make sure to factor into the work schedule not only the convenience of people we work with but also even such considerations as the weather and the seasons required for proper job installations. You can definitely say that this is not a routine job. On my free days, I love taking long drives with my partner and my two 4-legged boys.
DJ: What advise can you offer the many working creative professionals, specially photographers, with whom you work with?
MP: My best advise is to earn the trust and respect of clients through professional experience. The strong record of one’s sterling accomplishments will always speak for itself and carry one through. Also, the love of and commitment to one’s work is essential.
[Note: For free professional advise and guidance on your large-format printing requirements, installation and wrapping service requirements, and also on creative visual design, contact Marisse Panlilio via email at email@example.com. For free professional advise and consultation on advertising and commercial photography and visual media design, contact Dominique James at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, you can view and purchase the fine art photographs of Dominique James online at Zatista’s website. Thank you.]
BY DOMINIQUE JAMES
Do you know what are some of the most important pre-digital photo printing techniques? Can you name a few of these photo printing methods? Or, how about describing the difference and similarities between an ambrotype and a woodburytype? Do you even know what they are?
Before the advent of digital photo printing processes, photo prints were created through various, and oftentimes time-consuming, elaborate, laborious means, based on the known and prevailing high technology of the times. And yes, including ambrotype and woodburytype processess. Long before you are able to print photos by simply and conveniently feeding an inkjet printer with a photo paper and pressing a button, you might be surprised to find out how hard and difficult it used to be in photographically printing images.
During my recent excursion to San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), I had the pleasure of viewing the museum’s permanent collection of precious photo prints on exhibit. Entitled Picturing Modernity: The Photography Collection, this fascinating exhibition is a showcase of SFMoMA’s photography collection that includes pictures form the mid-1800s to the present, highlighting key moments in the development of the medium. The presentation I viewed focused on topographic photography, highlighting pictures that focus on the natural and architectural surfaces of the land, from 19th-century surveys of cultural monuments to contemporary works.
One of the fascinating sections presented in this major photography exhibit focused on six antique photographic processes. Excellent examples of each of the processes were featured. Below are SFMoMA’s brief description of each of the historically important photo printing technologies of yore that the museum featured.
Ambrotypes are named for James Ambrose Cutting, who popularized the process during the 1860s in the United States. A glass plate is coated with collodion (gun cotton dissolved in ether) and dipped in a silver nitrate bath, making it sensitive to light. While still wet, the plate is exposed in a camera and developed to produce a negative with whitish tones in the light areas and clear glass in the dark areas. Backed with an opaque coating or viewed against a dark background, the areas of light and dark read as positive. Ambrotypes do not originate from negatives and are thus unique objects. They require protection in miniature cases because the glass plates and collodion emulsion are extremely fragile.
Tintypes were extremely popular in America in the 1860s. They are produced on thin sheets of iron coated with an opaque black or brown lacquer. The lacquered metal is made sensitive to light with an application of collodion containing silver salts, then is immediately exposed in a camera and developed. The process is essentially the same for producing a collodion negative, and, in fact, tin types are negative images; it is the dark, lacquered background that produces the effect of a positive image. Tintypes were often placed in decorative frames or miniature cases like those used to protect daguerreotypes and ambrotypes. Hand painting was frequently employed to compensate for their lackluster tonal range.
Widely used until the 1890s, albumen prints are characterized by their glossy surfaces and sharp image definition. They are made by floating thin paper in an egg-white (or albumen) mixture containing salt. This mixture coats the paper, giving it a smooth, shiny surface when dry. The paper is then made light sensitive with silver nitrate and exposed to sunlight in contact with a negative, which is typically made of glass or waxed paper. The resulting image is permanently fixed by bathing the paper in a solution of hyposulfite and water. Toning during processing, often with gold chloride, yields variations in color and make the image more permanent.
Cyanotypes were first introduced in 1842 by Sir John Herschel. They are made by brushing ordinary paper with an iron-salt solution that produces bright blue pigments when exposed to light. Once dry, the sensitized paper is placed in sunlight while in contact with a glass plate negative or other image source, such as a plant specimen, until the image appears on the paper. The paper is then washed in water to stop the development process. The materials used to make cyanotypes are essentially the same as those used today to reproduce architectural blueprints.
William Henry Fox Talbot first introduced salt prints in 1839. They are made by immersing ordinary writing paper in salt water and then coating one side with a solution of silver nitrate, thereby embedding light-sensitive silver chloride in the paper’s fibers. A negative is placed on top of the sensitized paper and exposed to sunlight until an image appears. the print is then made permanent with sodium thiosulfate (hypo) and can be toned for greater permanence and richer hues. Occasionally the paper is pretreated with a thin coating of albumen, which makes the surface slightly glossy. Because multiple salt prints can be made from a single negative, this process made it feasible to reproduce photographs in albums and books.
The woodburytype process was patented in 1864 by Walter Bentley Woodbury and used until about 1900 to create continuous-tone photographic reproductions in books. A glass sheet dusted with talc is coated first with collodion and then with bichromated gelatin. When illuminated under a negative, the gelatin hardens in proportion to exposure. The gelatin is then separated from the talc-dusted glass and washed to remove any remaining unhardened material. The result is a relief that is applied under heavy pressure to a lead plate, creating a mold. The mold is inked with pigmented gelatin–usually purplish brown in color–and the image is transferred to paper in a printing press. Unlike other early photo-mechanical processes, woodburytypes lack a grain pattern and are admired for thier luminosity and subtle tonal range.
The photographs in Picturing Modernity: The Photography Collection date back to the invention of the medium. Learn more about the photographic processes from a fully illustrated information sheet that you can freely download or view in a convenient single-page PDF format.
Nowadays, although it can still be done, hardly anyone does any of the above photo printing methods anymore. However, it’s always a good idea for digital shooters to learn their roots, particularly to discover how difficult it used to be to print pictures, and hopefully, along the way, gain appreciation for the ease and convenience afforded by today’s digital photo printing techniques.