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Bold and Offbeat

Stephen Austin Welch Creates Extraordinary from the Ordinary

Part 2 of 4

By Lorraine A. DarConte

A bold use of color and informal, offbeat compositions set San Francisco, CA-based advertising photographer Stephen Austin Welch apart from the crowd. Welch possesses an uncanny knack for making even the most mundane subjects—paper coffee cups, a sterile office cubicle, an outdated shower stall—somehow look exciting and new. Regarding his art, Welch explains, "I think you have to break at least one rule—whether it’s mixing light sources or using a slow shutter—to get a good photograph."

Welch also credits his film background for his unusual style, which allows everyone involved in a photo shoot to fully participate. "It’s about lighting spaces and then letting subjects create their own moment, action, beat, or story with an essay," says Welch. "I think film shooters often have it backwards and they try to pin everything down so precisely that they lose that freedom. I’m all about lighting a set so that the model, the band, or whomever I photograph has the freedom to let their personality show."

Welch runs an almost all digital studio, delivering clients’ images via FTP sites. However, he has plenty of occasions to print photos too. "I use Epson inkjet printers with Epson archival ink and archival matte paper," states Welch. "When the Epson Stylus Pro 4000 first came out, I fell in love with it and purchased four more for the studio. My IT department figures the first printer generated more than ten miles of output. Subsequent devices each printed just as much volume."

Welch’s studio uses the Epson Stylus Pro 4000 to provide several different solutions including 12x12-inch portfolio prints, fine art photographic prints, calibrated proofs for clients, and archival C-prints on traditional photographic media. "We sell prints of all sizes—up to four feet, although I favor prints at 40 inches. Any of our fine art photographic prints sell through galleries or directly from our studio," confides Welch.

"Unique items printed on our large format printer include art cards. These are limited edition archival photographic prints sent to clients, colleagues, fans, and friends. We created one every month for two years to make up a complete collector set of 24 pieces. It was nice to send out archival prints as promotional mailers because they were a couple notches above standard postcards."

The studio understands the nuances and advantages of their large format printer, specifically using it to promote their own products. Clearly Welch’s gift for making the common object interesting extends to his business practices.

To view a sampling of Welch’s collections visit

In the next edition of the Digital Queue Bruce Dorn discusses his interest in photographing nature, mare specifically, animals in the their natural habitat of Africa.

Click here to read Part 1 of this exclusive online series, American Cowgirl.

Dec2008, Digital Output

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