Behind the Camera: When You Purchase a Print

· Reading Time: 15 minutes

Welcome back for another month of my Behind the Camera series.  In this feature, I will typically pick a question or a topic that has come up in the previous month to discuss in a bit more detail than a quick answer would provide.  This month, I have chosen to talk about my print process, and what you should expect as a client of mine.  I figure with Christmas right around the corner, there might be a few folks that are on the fence with whether or not to purchase a print.  I will say that there is no better gift than the gift of art.  It can be viewed and enjoyed every day, and hopefully will be something that creates a memory or emotional response from the the viewer.  Art is timeless, and can go with the owner no matter where they live.  So, what should you expect from Greg Kiser Photography when you become a client?  I hope to answer that with this month’s feature.

Recently when I was getting an order together to ship I made a quick video of the two prints and the additional piece that I included with each one.  That was kind of the springboard for this feature and I figure I will go ahead and open up with that video as a starting point.

The two images that are represented in this video are recent compositions that I created over this Fall about a week apart from each other.  They are both going to the same client and were chosen because they compliment each other so well with the tones and moods.  Since filming the video, I have signed the bottom right corner of both prints per request and have also signed and dated the back of the print, which I will routinely do.  At this point, they are ready to be framed, hung, and enjoyed.  For a bit better view of the images, I’ll add them in here.

Damp Autumn“, Canon 5D Mk3, 70-200mm f/2.8L Mk2, No Filters
The Mighty“, Canon 5D Mk3, 16-35mm f/2.8L Mk2, No Filters

Of course, the print is the primary focus when somebody decides on a photograph that speaks to them, so that gets the most emphasis in the entire creative process.  However, I don’t want to just ship a print and an invoice to the client.  That is so cold and sterile.  My images are all meant to make connections, and I want to continue that theme with the delivery of my prints.  Something that I have been doing for a while now has been to add a single page narrative describing how the image came to be.  It includes the basics like title, location, date created, and exposure information.  I will then talk about the experience that I had creating the image and what makes it stand out to me.  The idea here is to allow the connection to extend with the client so they can feel like they were there with me at the creation of the image they have fallen in love with.  In just a few paragraphs, I can bring in a new dimension to the image and hopefully deepen the enjoyment of it while giving the client a look into what makes me tick when it comes to photography.  Because this is a special part of the delivery, I don’t just print it on regular paper.  I have special Parchment paper that I use for this purpose.

These are all little things that I hope come together to add to the experience of holding your very own print of one of my images.  Why is it that I treat the delivery of prints as such an important part of my photography?  That is a simple question to answer.  In my opinion, the print is the MOST important part of the whole process.  You might argue that the beginning stages where I am actually capturing the image with the camera is the most important.  Possibly even before that with the concept of the image.  Maybe it is the post processing that goes into an image that is the most important part.  That is, after all, where I put my thumbprint on the image.  No, none of these are all that important on their own.  In fact, their importance will fluctuate depending on the image.

I could have a great idea for an image which I am able to execute decently.  Maybe the idea wasn’t all that solid, but I captured the moment just right, or maybe I was able to bring out the unique qualities through in my post processing.  All of these elements are fluid to an image.  What it all boils down to is the actual physical print.  Everything is removed from the equation except for the image on the paper, canvas, or metal.  In this form, it is exactly what I intended when I composed and captured the scene in front of me.  This can’t be said with as much accuracy when viewing an image on the computer screen.  That is hardly the way to enjoy photography.  There are too many other variables introduced when viewing on a computer, likely online.  The images are low resolution, with much less detail.  The colors are no longer true because the color space has been compressed from the native gamut, and then you add in the variables like the non-calibrated monitors that are being used to view the image.

There is just no comparison to having a print right in front of you versus looking at a computer monitor.  This print is a 13×19″ print for reference, and the computer image is the full size digital upload for my Facebook page.  The amount of detail in the actual print is exquisite and you just don’t get that with the digital image on the screen.  This is why I shoot every one of my images with the intention that it will become a print.  I edit the images with that final use in mind knowing that I need a very large file for making large prints.  For me, the only way to truly enjoy a photograph is in printed form and hanging on the wall.  That tangible quality, and its physical being changes the dynamic of the whole viewing experience.

When you choose to purchase a print from me, there are several options available to you.  The simplest is to select one of the pre-selected sizes in my Gallery Shop which is available as a menu click at the top of the website.  From here, you will have the option of four different sizes.  The smallest that I offer is an 8×10″ size.  This is the easiest and cheapest to frame, but because of the 4×5 ratio, I will typically have to crop an image to fit in that ratio of length and width.  For those images that can’t be cropped satisfactorily, I have the next option of a full sheet of standard paper which is 8.5×11″.  This allows for a similar size, but it will contain the entire image as viewed in the gallery without any cropping.  This will be more difficult to frame as the dimensions might be a little off from the standard options.  I still prefer this option as it doesn’t compromise the composition of the image.  The remaining two options, an 11×17″ and a 13×19″ print will remain uncropped and will be as close as possible to those standard sized sheets.  In most cases, these will need to be custom framed, but there are some stock frames available for images in this size.  All of these sizes will be printed on Red River Satin Pro paper which is a brilliant Luster finish with a slight texture.  It allows for greater viewing angles without glare while keeping the saturation and colors of a gloss image.  At my largest size of 13×19″, I can print an image on Polar Pro Metallic Paper which is also a Red River option.  This is a slightly pearlescent glossy finish that gives a metallic look to the colors.  This is a limited use paper, and is good for black and white prints as well as highly reflective images such as water, or automotive subjects.

Beyond those standard clickable options, I can present my images on any number of other papers and surfaces by special order.  I have printed panoramas at eight feet long in canvas before, and have done metal prints for clients as well.  In short, if you have specific need in your decorating plan, I will more than likely be able to work with you in order to get that print done just right for your needs.  Don’t hesitate to email me at [email protected] or call me at 336-681-0220 to discuss your options.  With the print being the most important part of the experience, I want this process to be as easy for you as possible, and as personal as you want to make it.


Why Choose Art in the First Place?

This seems to be a very valuable part to this discussion, so I am going to segue into that for a moment.   With the surplus of images online, is there a place to have art in your home now?  I would argue that it is more important than ever these days.  Everything is so fleeting online.  You scroll through your favorite social media and hit like a bunch of times, and occasionally comment on a picture by saying “Beautiful,” “Awesome,” “Spectacular,” or “Thanks for sharing.”  Make no mistake, the artist appreciates the comments.  I spend a great portion of my day responding to these very comments on the photographs that I post.  They are nice, but what are they lacking is true feedback for the creator of the art.  I am always wanting to know the “why” behind the reaction.  With the simple one word comments, I am left to imagine that my image stopped somebody just long enough to say nice before they moved on to another picture elsewhere.  Any true art form is meant to be enjoyed longer than a few seconds.  I strive to create images that hold the attention of the viewer while they ponder the story behind the photograph.  Those comments that start to pick elements of the image apart are the ones that truly excite me.  It means that I have achieved my goal as a photographer.  Somebody stopped and let the image soak in long enough to understand it beyond the surface reaction.

This is where society has shown that it is moving too fast.  We are all part of the microwave generation now and we want everything done in snippets and fed to us quickly.  We aren’t allowing anything to resonate with us over the course of time anymore.  Art, in any form will help us regain that appreciation for a moment in time which will last longer than that moment ever really did.  It will slow our ADD brains down and teach us to reflect on things that we find beautiful.  When I am out there capturing the images that I do, I typically spend at least 30 minutes on each scene that I am shooting.  I have waited hours for a single scene to develop, not to mention the hiking or driving to get to the location.  I will then spend some time in front of the computer getting the image perfected in post production to truly capture the scene that I shot.  These images are not “clicks,” or “snaps,” or even simply “photos.”  These images really are a part of me.  They represent what I was thinking and feeling that day as well as revealing my heart and soul.  To reduce that experience down to calling it a “snap” or “click” minimizes the art and the photographer.  I know that these terms are not meant to degrade the photographer, but it begins to compare a well thought out image to that of a spur of the moment selfie during the course of a party.

Art is meant to be enjoyed, and absorbed by the viewer.  When you select art, it is as personal a choice for you as it was for the creator of that art.  You are saying to the artist “I get your vision, and I love the execution.”  You are validating the time spent creating which is a very special thing.  There are actually a lot of reasons why choosing art, and bringing that art into your life in a tangible form is still very much viable in this day and age.  It goes beyond just making the artist feel good, it can actually make you feel good too!  I found a great explanation of this on the Flinders Lane Gallery website where they talk about the 17 reasons to buy art.  I invite you to read through their list as it is very detailed, but I’ll hit the main high points here.

  1.  Take Me Away — The ability of art to transport you to another time or place.
  2.  Express Yourself — Use art to illustrate who you are as a person.
  3.  Set the Mood — Using art to set the mood in a particular space to influence behavior or conversation.
  4.  What Memories are Made of — This is one that I really like.  It deals with using art to remember a time or place that is special to you.
  5.  Nurturing the Inner Artist — Using art to springboard your own creativity and inspire through visual stimulation.
  6.  Color Your World — Use art to provide a splash of color, or just complement a color palette in a room.
  7.  The Artist is Present — You are allowing the vision of that artist to come into your space and letting them become a part of your world.  You are showing support to the art and artist.
  8.  Polishing Things Off  — Art will add warmth and personality to a room, even in this minimalist resurgence.
  9.  The Art of Conversation — Art will always spur questions and from questions follows dialog.  The topics will often be about why you chose a particular piece of art, or a shared experience.
  10.  Art as Investment — This is not the primary reason, but there is always the possibility that art will increase in value as it bookmarks certain periods in an artist’s body of work.
  11.  Mixing Work and Pleasure — You should never discount the use of art in a business setting.  It will make a business more inviting and it will provide a calming effect as well.
  12.  Look and Learn — Take the time to look “into” the art and think on an abstract, conceptual, or even emotional level to keep the brain active.
  13.  The Pleasure of Collecting — Take pleasure and pride at watching your collection grow as your tastes evolve.
  14.  The Art of Giving — This is one of those times when you can give something very personal as a gift.  Art can be a shared experience, or even just a confirmation that you truly understand a person.
  15.  Art and Soul — Art serves as a constant reminder of who we are and what we love.
  16.  My Pictures of You — Use art to commemorate stages in a loved one’s life such as a painted portrait, not just a cell phone click.
  17.  Home is Where the Art is — Your home is your sanctuary from the outside world, and the art that you choose to have in it will reflect what makes you happy.

I really think that this is a well thought out list and it really hits all of the high spots of why you should choose art.  Social media and the internet are such fleeting things.  Think about it…think about the last picture you were affected by when scrolling your favorite social media site.  How long ago did you see it?  I would venture a guess that it was within a day or two ago.  Now think harder, and go back in time.  What picture stands out in your mind from a month ago?  You are hard pressed to remember that.  Is the picture from yesterday that much better than the one from a month ago?  How about a year ago?  Now you are seeing where the internet is failing us when it comes to the arts.  All photographers are forgettable these days because there is always another picture to be seen.  Could Ansel Adams survive in these times?  I don’t know.  Has the worth of photography as an art diminished over the years?  I don’t think so.  I think that the photographs being captured currently are just a viable as those from decades ago.  I think that there are still stories to be told through imagery and with the technology that is available today it can be told like never before.

I think that it is very important for those who enjoy the photographs, or any form of art, to consider supporting that artist by purchasing their work.  It allows you to sit back and enjoy it in the physical form that it was intended for.  It provides needed financial support for that artist so that they can continue to create.  It will allow you to remember that reaction that you had when you first saw the work.  You can look at it as much as you want to  and really examine its meaning and purpose.  Then, when I ask you what is your favorite picture, you can immediately recall it because it is in your collection at home hanging on the wall.  This is how art is supposed to be enjoyed, not by swiping and clicking the like button.

Every image that I shoot is intended to be held, and mounted to a wall.  Only about 10% of those images actually see the light of day though.  By the time I have shared the photograph, it has been through several evaluations and tests until I am confident that the final presentation will be to my satisfaction.  Each image you find in my collection represents hours of work, thousands of dollars worth of equipment, my exposure to the elements, and going on 15 years of experience with a camera.  You aren’t paying for a piece of paper with an image bled into the fibers, you are paying for all of those things that went into capturing that particular scene.  The vast majority of that magical 10% which are ready to be prints never make it to that point since That phase is largely dependent on my clients choosing the images.  The only satisfaction that I get from the time and effort from these images are some comments and likes on social media.  While I love the feedback, especially those comments that delve into the image in some detail, I have ultimately gone through the effort to get that image for very little return.  That is part of the game, and I fully accept it and embrace it.  That is what makes it so special when one of my prints actually finds its way into a home.  Those are the moments that I celebrate in my photography career!

So, remember some of these points when you are scrolling along on social media and find that a certain photographer, or other artist’s work speaks to you on a deeper level.  Take a minute to consider if their vision will brighten up your space, and then consider the effect that your show of support for their art will have on future creations.  It is an investment into the art community as well as an artist that has connected with you on some level.  You are a valuable part of the process of creating art.

Thank you for joining me this month for a topic that has been on my mind for a while.  I hope that I have prompted you to consider purchasing art, and specifically my art.  I have always done everything in my power to make my clients exceedingly happy with the prints that they choose.  Now that I am a self employed starving artist, print sales are a really big deal to me and they help to fund my photography and all that I do around it, such as this very blog.  I’ll see you again on New Year’s Day when I will be doing a recap of 2019, as well as a quarterly update for my time as a full time photographer.