Canon Trade Talks 1

I recently wrapped up a series of talks at the Sign & Graphics trade show in Dubai. It was great fun with lots of energy and a tip-top crowd.


My talks was predominantly geared towards photographers and printing professionals… sharing real life experiences from the diverse productions and shoots we work on covering photography and (large format) printing. In a nutshell, my story ran as follows:


PHOTOGRAPHY > Photography for me is all about creating fresh and amazing work. I shared some of my recent aerial work, which perfectly demonstrated this. My brief had been fairly straightforward… an A4 sheet listing a load of locations in Dubai and a max of ten hours flying time to cover them all. Nothing more, nothing less! I could have approached the assignment in any number of ways… the easiest being to simply head up with an average zoom and telezoom lens and capture just the key sights but my approach went way beyond that. I extended the brief with a bunch of extra locations, brought more gear (including fisheye and super telephoto lenses) and shot everything in between the locations as well. I ended up crafting some really strong visuals, including people enjoying the beaches, fisheye shots over the Palm Jumeirah, road junctions, car graveyards and sprawling industrial areas. The images speak for themselves and received great praise. It just goes to show, you’ve gotta be willing to work extra hard to enjoy extraordinary results. Stay tuned to my blog for some really awesome behind the scenes vid’s.

WHERE IT STOPS > As with most gigs, the life of images ends when the artwork is handed over (and the bill is settled, of course!) The client is happy with their advertising or promotional work, whatever it may be, and is free to make all the noise they want with it. Shared exposure is great, especially if you link back to it, yet once the images have done their trick, brands tend to quickly move on… on to new stories and to new visuals. And than what happens to the images you worked so hard to create? It’s R.I.P on a hard drive, creating dust as dead pixels. For me, photography is so much about story telling and HD’s simply don’t tell these stories. Of course, you can extend their life on your website, via social media and stock agencies like Getty Images, but there is so much more to do with them.


AND WHERE IT CONTINUES > We’ve had a Canon Image Prograf in our studio for about six years now and recently upgraded to the Canon iPF 8400. It’s all fun and games having your own large format printer and signals the end of running around to and from printing houses and spending unnecessary cash. Running your own machine in-house allows you to experiment, turn work around quickly and budget very cost effectively. During my presentations, I had an extensive list of real life examples from our photography & book productions, online webstore and general work as an artist. I’ll share a few below:

– The most logical one is producing your own photo prints. Paid or for free. The reason I mentioned for free is that these printers are amazing tools to create smiles and build strong relationships. It costs close to nothing to send a few prints to clients or others who have helped you along the way. You can only imagine the effect it has.

– We do most of our own in-house marketing collateral. Once or twice a year, we send out personalized promo posters. When I say personalized, I mean that every single poster will have its own text, carefully customized for the intended recipient. Personalized work helps us to stand out in a crowd of mass production. Sure, it’s a bit more work doing it yourself but it seriously helps to keep the cost low.

– We run our own online webstore named, created out of the desire to do more with the photo content we have stuck on hard drives. The backbone to the operation is our iPF, where we print orders on demand. An online purchase comes in, than gets printed and couriered, all within the same day. You don’t need much imagination on how the business model works.

– We launched with a grand photo exhibition where we, in addition to all the exhibited photo prints, printed all the wall and floor graphics ourselves on adhesive vinyl. This proved super cost effective and once printed, were simply hung and done!

– On the book production side, the examples of using a large format printer are endless. Creating coffee table books is a complex journey with many stakeholders, all having a say in the process. One of the big prints I bring to our first meetings are moodboards which I turn into interactive scribble papers adding and crossing off ideas that clients might have. Often the challenge is how to translate what you see as a PDF on a computer screen into something printed in real life. Even an A4 or A3 print out doesn’t always do justice. What we often do is print a few pages of the work in progress artwork to real size on simple thin paper. An 8p font size really helps them to visualise the role that images play in a book, how a double page spread works and the importance of empty space. A few simple print outs can really work wonders. Add to this, the endless options of bespoke covers. Get a nice premium thick photo paper and you can turn any book into a personalized gift item.

– During the presentations, I wrapped up with TED_2020, which was a prime example of play, experimentation and creation. Read the blog post to discover what TED_2020 was all about and how the iPF and again adhesive vinyl, came into play.

These are just a few examples of how a large format printer supports our business. The list goes on. For us, it’s all about extending our Hard Work into something we’re keen to Play Hard with. Nothing beats turning .psd files into a stunning print and sharing these with those who have helped us deliver strong work. Amazing.

Wouter-at-SGI-2 Wouter-at-SGI-1

One of the highlights at the Sign & Graphics show was the opportunity to ‘print on any surface’. “You mean on any surface?” I asked. And so they got a challenge… I had a leftover wooden frame from a previous exhibition, which had a canvas print attached to it. We removed the canvas and set the challenge of printing the artwork directly onto the oldest, most rough and grungy 4cm-thick scaffolding planks you can imagine. And it worked! With the skillful hands of Wil de Haan and Oce’s Arizone 460GT, they did a magical job and attracted a huge crowd in the process. Awesome results. Now I know what’s on my Christmas wish list!

Finally, when walking around the trade fair, it dawned on me that when it comes to the print industry, we are only limited by our own creativity. I was amazed, as always, as to what’s technically possible and what can be produced today. Being on the creative side of the business, I’m excited as ever by the possibility to discover what we can do, will do, must do and never thought we could do. Bring it on!