Jim Richardson: Liberated Print
“I believe in making pictures work, in getting them out there, and making them do something,” suggests Jim Richardson.
He recalls honing his photojournalistic skills when he went to work for the Topeka Capital Journal newspaper. “We had a staff of photographers there that included a number of luminaries in photojournalism. Like me, many of them went on to work at National Geographic Society. Not only did we shoot picture stories; we laid them out, wrote the headlines, and printed them. We never had anyone else print them,” shares Richardson.
“For many years, I was never really happy with color prints,” he says. “I didn’t want to sell them, because I was particularly uncomfortable selling a print that wouldn’t last. You had to be honest with people that what they were buying might only last 25 years.”
Fast forward to Richardson’s contemporary professional life, which is all digital. “I’ve been digital for eight years now,” he estimates, and says his favorite camera is Nikon Corporation’s D3700, for its ergonomic design and high ISO.
Though he still spends approximately six months of the year traveling and documenting moments in time and place, he and his wife Kathy consider Small World: A Gallery of Arts and Ideas located on Main Street in Lindsborg, KS their home base. Nearly half of the square footage is what Richardson refers to as production space, where he uses a stable of Epson printers.
These include an Epson Stylus Pro 9900—a 44-inch, ten-color pigmented ink system, an Epson Stylus Pro 4900, and the smaller format Epson Stylus Pro 3880. As for papers, he is most enamored with Epson Premium Luster Photo Paper and Epson Exhibition Fiber Paper.
“I believe in the aesthetic principle that you have to let the process get out of the way. You want people to see what was happening in front of the lens, not have their attention drawn to how the image was printed, or what it was printed on. If they’re aware of those details, you’ve done something wrong,” suggests Richardson.
In addition to photographic-quality output, Richardson credits developers of digital inkjet equipment with enabling photographers to reproduce their work in a truly on demand fashion, and increase the value of their prints by ensuring longevity.
“Digital printing is liberating,” marvels Richardson. “It gives photographers another way to put their images to work. It’s all about getting those pictures out of filing cabinets, or off of the hard drive, and giving them life.”
Thomas Hoepker: The Image Maker
“In the beginning, I never thought about the market. I simply was interested in taking pictures.” That’s how photographer Thomas Hoepker remembers his early days in the business of making images.
As student of art history and archeology, Hoepker embarked on a long, illustrious career in photography, photojournalism, and filmmaking, which began in the early 1960s and continues to this day.
“I became a staff reporter for Stern, a weekly magazine,” recalls Hoepker. “The magazine provided the means with which to take pictures—meaning, they gave me tickets to exotic places, and more importantly, they gave me the time. I had the luxury of going to Africa, Asia, all over Europe, and staying there for extended periods, so I really looked at the area or country, got to know it intimately, and found a story.”
One needs not even look at the entire body of his photographic storytelling to see Hoepker’s talent, skill, and passion.
Though Hoepker still enjoys traveling on assignment, his opportunities to do so are fewer than they once were. But at 74, he is far from retired. He partners with his wife, Christine Kruchen, on television and film documentaries, and spends many of his days making prints.
“I go back into my past, into my archives, and produce prints from those images,” he explains. “I have original negatives that date back 50 to 55 years. Some are negatives; some are color slides. And I’m still using them to produce new products. Sometimes I feel like half my professional life these days is spent scanning old prints!”
By 2002, Hoepker retired his analog cameras in favor of digital and built a workflow link with a Hewlett-Packard (HP) Designjet Z3200 printer and Adobe Systems Incorporated’s Photoshop, which Hoepker says he uses as sparingly as possible—he feels it is important to leave the print as close to the original as possible.
“I apply the same rules to digital as I did in the darkroom,” he emphasizes. “I never want to alter the content of the picture. I am careful not to cross that line and eliminate not even a single branch of a tree. As a documentary photojournalist, I want to report real life. The moment I change something, I’m lying," he admits.
The HP Designjet Z3200 is a 44-inch thermal inkjet device that prints in 12 colors with HP Photo Inks, offering maximum black optical density. Hoepker first witnessed the printer in action while taking a tour of HP’s Barcelona, Spain facility, and saw great promise in its ability to reproduce with the quality and integrity his photographs deserve.
“I’m working on two projects at the moment. They both involve exhibitions and books. I’m also making prints for two museums, and a print collection for a traveling show. So I’m using the printer a lot,” adds Hoepker.
He also uses the HP Designjet to produce color-guidance proofs for books and limited editions of his work. When creating the limited editions, a 300 gram, heavy, cotton fiber-based paper from Crane & Co. is used, which comes in rolls of up to 44 inches wide.
Hoepker is attributed with having said, “I am not an artist; I am an image maker.” When asked about the distinction between the two, he chuckles.