ARTICLE

"The personal touch" – Richard Walch explains how printing for himself enhances his business

A print of a skier dwarfed by the vast, sheer mountain he is skiing down. Photo by Richard Walch.
Canon Ambassador Richard Walch produces his own custom photo prints on his Canon printer and uses them to build relationships with clients and create business opportunities. Images © Richard Walch

With a career producing advertising and editorial work for brands such as Apple, Velux, Audi and BMW, Canon Ambassador Richard Walch says standing out from the crowd is an important factor in retaining clients – and for him, printing his own photos is a key part of doing that.

Richard uses his custom photo prints, produced using his Canon printer and hand-framed, as a unique calling card that he is sure helps him to retain clients and enhance his business prospects.

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"Giving your clients a print delivers that personal touch, which is worth a lot," says Richard. "If you close the job, and you say, 'Thanks a lot for the work,' and you give them a print, it's a really nice thing to do. Nobody expects it.

"Or when somebody leaves a company that I've been working for, and they move on to the next, I'll call them up and say, 'Hey, it was really nice to work with you. Why don't you pick a picture that you like, and I'll print it for you as a thank-you?'

"That's been very successful because it's a nice gesture, and a little reminder for them that maybe in the next job they could call you up again. You usually get commissioned for jobs by people you know. It's all about relationships. It's just a natural process in advertising photography."

Keeping his networks healthy has enabled Richard to maintain a strong list of clients, and has helped him weather the turbulence of freelancing in the sometimes cut-throat world of advertising photography.

A photo print of a snowy mountain emerges from a Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 printer.
Richard's trusty Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 produces another amazing print. It has been an investment that he says continues to deliver benefits.

Printing at scale with the PRO-1000

Richard started printing his work in 2016, as an early adopter of the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 – the printer he still uses for all his work. For him, the biggest draw is the printer's large A2 print size.

"You need to be able to print bigger images if you're planning on doing it to a professional level, because they're more desirable. They give you a better return on investment," he explains.

The printer's ease of use is also a primary factor in Richard's dedication to the PRO-1000. "It works without needing to connect (via cable) to the computer, which makes things simple," he says. "You can't focus on making unique work if you make things needlessly complicated."

A Canon printer printing out a black and white portrait of an older man.

5 professional photo printing tips

Canon Ambassador Clive Booth and Canon printing expert Suhaib Hussain reveal how to make your own pro-quality photo prints.

Uniqueness and exceptional quality of printing are what Richard aims for when creating items for clients. He admits that he could pay a photo lab to print his work, and respects that the products they sell are of good quality. But he believes that the personal touch of his personally-made prints leaves a far longer-lasting impression.

"The labs are brilliant. They have multiple frame options, they're quick and affordable, all of that," he concedes. "But when you unwrap one of their prints, you understand that it's an industrial product. It's not handmade. There's a market for that, but it's not what I’m looking for."

But for photographers aiming to emulate Richard's print-based networking techniques, what does it take to create these kinds of high-quality prints? According to Richard, it takes a combination of excited enthusiasm and a little bit of technical know-how.

A photo print resting on a box of fine art printer papers.
Richard keeps a variety of different papers on hand and experiments to find the best for each print's requirements.

Play with paper

When making high-class prints for any occasion, whether to sell or to give away as gifts to clients, the thing that truly sets your work apart from the crowd is how you present it. Richard recommends exploring how you can use different elements to transform your work into a genuine piece of art.

"It's really up to you to find out where it can take you," he says. "For example, the standard ambition is to make a big, glossy, shiny image. But for me, I find it much more appealing to use papers that offer something different – perhaps a more matte finish, for example."

Even seemingly small and incidental factors such as this can have a huge effect on how your work eventually turns out, with unconventional sizes, thicknesses and textures all available to the adventurous photographer.

"There's a huge variety of paper, but you need to experiment to find out what works best for you and for your photography. You can start this journey and really personalise things in a way that you're happy with, and create something that’s really unique," says Richard. "Then you can mount it and frame it, and it becomes a truly unique work of art." And who can resist that?

A striking rainbow illuminates a ship in an otherwise dimly-lit Norwegian fjord. Photo by Richard Walch.
The range of Richard's photography demands a lot of a printer, such as the contrast and colour gradations in this striking image of a cruise ship in a Norwegian fjord. Richard uses Canon's Print Studio Pro software to ensure optimum print results. Taken on a Canon EOS RP with a Canon RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM lens at 240mm, 1/1600 sec, f/6.3 and ISO800. © Richard Walch
A skier seems to be engulfed in snow as he skis down a 45-degree slope, one of his stocks in front and one trailing behind.
Over his 25-year career as an action sports photographer, Richard has shot a lot of winter sports photos. In order to do them justice, his printer needs to be able to reproduce often very subtle tones and hues of white. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II at 115mm, 1/2000 sec, f/6.3 and ISO200. © Richard Walch

Use Canon photo printing software

Richard recommends trying out Print Studio Pro, a plug-in for Canon Digital Photo Professional (DPP) and other photo editing software, which works with all current Canon PIXMA PRO and imagePROGRAF PRO printers. It helps you to enhance your photos so that fine details are dramatically improved and gradations are smoothed, enabling you to print highly accurate reproductions of your images. A live preview of your print lets you see exactly what you'll get when you finally press the Print button.

"With Print Studio Pro you develop the image in DPP, and it's almost like an HDR print. It shows a lot more detail," says Richard.

"[Canon's photo printing software] kind of does magic to the image," he explains. "So it looks good on your paper. The software is free to download and use. It's one of those things you need to get, and then it's just easy and you have fun with it."

Richard also uses the free Canon Quick Utility Toolbox software that comes bundled with the printer, including Media Configuration Tool (MCT) to manage paper profiles, and Accounting Manager to monitor ink consumption and keep track of his prints.

A stack of framed prints next to Richard Walch's Canon printer.
The finished product, framed by Richard himself – neatly packed and ready to be shipped out to the fortunate recipient.

Reaping the benefits

Although printing isn't the primary focus of his business, Richard has certainly felt its benefits. "Of course, you get a job because you're an expert at shooting that specific product or a specific situation that a client needs," he says. "I focus on advertising work for companies, so that's my market. I don't make a living from selling prints. But if there's a client of mine who I want to do something special for, I'll make a really great print and give it to them. It's pure marketing, and it's highly effective."

Getting started in printing for yourself can be exciting and daunting, whether you plan to use your printer to create gifts for valued clients or produce prints to sell. For Richard, printing has been very fulfilling, enhancing his business prospects and his photographic career.

If you're considering investing in a photo printer, Richard has a final word of advice. "Yes, it is a fair amount of money, particularly for a bigger format printer," he says. "But if you want to seriously get into print, don't settle for something small. No matter what you're doing with your prints, you'll eventually need a printer that can create bigger images."

Napisal Oliver Cuenca


Richard Walch's kitbag

The key kit pros use to take their photographs

A Canon DSLR with a Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM lens on a desk alongside three other Canon lenses.

Camera

Canon EOS-1D X Mark III

Canon's new flagship DSLR, successor to the EOS-1D X Mark II Richard uses most. "This camera is totally designed for speed and toughness with no compromise," enthuses Richard. "That's exactly my kind of photography, so what a perfect match!"

Lenses

Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM

Discover portrait perfection with an exceptional telephoto lens. "The EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM is a beautiful piece of glass, and the bokeh it creates is magical," says Richard.

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM

A professional-grade wide-angle lens with a natural perspective, an f/1.4 aperture and low-light capabilities. "I work a lot with zoom lenses for speed and flexibility, but working with the fast aperture of the EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM is beautiful," Richard says.

Printer

Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000

Print in stunning quality with this A2 desktop printer, which offers high levels of colour and detail. An advanced 12-ink system faithfully brings your pictures to life. "Don't settle for anything less," advises Richard.

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