We spoke to a series of professional photographers to find out how they create the best prints and what inspires their work.
“Printing your photographs is the fastest way to improve your craft as a photographer.”
Chong Su Chung made a life-changing decision to move back to Malaysia after more than a decade in Australia. The move stemmed from his passion for photography.
Once back in Sabah, he realised that there was a need for colour-accurate and long-lasting prints, so he decided to jump into digital fine art printing and share his knowledge with photographers on the final output – print.
He shared how he developed his passion. He says it stems from his time visiting galleries in Melbourne and seeing surreal fine art prints on display. This inspired him to print his own photos.
He reveals that in the beginning, he could not get the desired results. So he went to further his knowledge in colour management and fine art printing under the tutelage of renowned Australian artist, educator & digital imaging consultant, Dr. Les Walkling.
Su Chung says of his craft, “Apart from the storytelling of the composition itself, a great photographic print has to be one that brings a flood of emotional responses from the audience as intended by the photographer or artist.”
He explains that when he prints an image, he looks for details, colourspace and file handling issues. Since colour management is a field in which most photographers are still not familiar with, he will explain the basics and inform his clients on what to expect.
Asked about the permanency of print, Su Chung makes an interesting observation. He says, “True professionals look for the best quality product that they can offer to their clients, which generally includes long-lasting prints that can endure for generations.”
We asked him about his favourite material to print on, and he explains that the choice of paper makes a big difference for him. Heavily textured paper would not be suitable for a portrait of a person with smooth skin, while a cool-coloured paper may turn a loving moment into a cold and heartless scene.
He confesses that he is proud when he sees the prints he has handled displayed in homes, businesses and galleries. He says of them, “We know that we have preserved photographic moments that will stand the test of time.”
Su Chung has advice on printing for aspiring photographers and professionals. He says, “Printing your photographs is the fastest way to improve your craft as a photographer.”
He sees great potential in converting digital files to print. Over the course of the years, he has had clients who first started printing with him and have continued to do so until today. “Awestruck, intensive scrutiny, prolonged viewing and then a smile,” is how he describes knowing that the client is satisfied.
Su Chung enthuses that he also prints his personal photographs including family portraits and travel photos. When he prints, he looks for ‘moments in time’ as he remembers them – the colours and tones have to be engraved in his memory. Whenever he sees a print, it brings him back to the moment as he had remembered it, every time.
What is the difference in printing versus looking at an image on a computer screen? “There’s an emotion when I hold a great print in my hand. It’s not possible to envision the full scale of the images on monitors or mobile phones. The scenic Mount Kinabalu on a large-format print, hung on a wall, would give a sense of majestic presence. It doesn’t have the same impact on the screen.”
We asked if he have a favourite printer. Su Chung favours Epson for its MicroPiezo printhead technology that delivers the finest print quality suitable for high resolution fine art printing. He feels reassured that there’s never a worry about inconsistent colours from print to print.
He likes the Epson SureColor SC-P607 in particular because it has a smaller footprint and is much lighter to carry around – which makes it his roadshow printer of choice. It uses UltraChrome HD ink with high black density and is superb for black and white prints, even without custom printer and paper profiling.
What’s more, he says, with roll media support, costs are reduced and it allows for continuous printing. It is suitable for printing panoramic shots and can be used with a wider selection of media.
Explaining why young photographers should print their work properly, he concludes by saying, ‘It will instill in them the required attitude in life and in their career: To strive to be the best and reach for a higher goal. This will help them to develop into world-class photographers and preserve their legacy for future generations.”