Eric the Printer / by Stefaan Conrad

Yesterday, I went to Santa Rosa to meet with Eric, the president of ChromaGraphics which is a commercial printing operation with a very wide range of print media. I brought in some samples from books I’ve found inspiring as well as a long list of questions about the printing process and their operation. Eric was fantastic and gave me so much information!

We talked about paper stock and paper finish which I’ll explain in a following post. He gave me samples of cover and text options (also expounded upon in a coming post). He estimated that production time for my order would be about a week and that, for a book my size, it would cost me somewhere around $600. He suggested strategies for designing my cover in order to make the binding process as successful as possible. For example, not having border lines of images right at folding seams going from the front/back onto the spine. I had already avoided that problem by designing my cover so that the image wraps all the way around the spine and bleeds onto the back.

Probably the most impressive part of the whole meeting was when Eric took me to the warehouse and showed me their newest piece of printing technology; a behemoth of a machine the size of my dorm room with ten-thousand print heads all spitting ink in a more efficient and more accurate process than anything else available. Fun fact: the printer that will be printing Recalibrate is the only one of its kind west of the Mississippi.

I’m very excited to have made that connection yesterday. Working with real people in a professional setting is one of the aspects of producing Recalibrate that I will value most. One option would be to upload a pdf online to some company in the midwest and wait for the final product to show up a couple weeks later. However, I love the process of talking with Eric about papers, finishes, design strategies, processing, and just being part of the production. I will learn a ton through this process and it will make me a better photography, designer, publisher in the end.

On another note, I dug back into the albums from earlier shoots from fall quarter and did some editing so I could continue laying out spreads. I’ve learned a valuable lesson this year; never discount the potential of an image due to what appears in camera. Of course, this creates a dangerous dichotomy which can be taken advantage of with the notion of ‘I’ll fix it in post’ syndrome. However, when I keep this reminder in the back of my head, it keeps me from being discouraged when out shoot and even when I get a first look at my images. In the past, I’ve written off pictures at a glance because of the way they come out of the camera. This year, however, I’ve learned the true power behind some of the editing technology at my disposal.

Here is an example of an image which I would’ve been quick to mark unusable, however, with the right adjustments, the information is there to create a pretty expressive moment.

Thanks for following along on my journey of new experiences and professional growth.