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August 13th, 2015

Duggal Sees Future in High Res Digital C Prints

“Pick your favorite Pacific Island.”

We’re staring at a small map attached to a enormous light box. Dangling from the box is a loupe, the kind jewelers use to scrutinize a diamond, and Ken Bledsoe, manager of fine art digital printing at Duggal is encouraging us to take a closer look. We do, pressing the loupe against the print and honing in on the South China Sea. The map’s tiny details, obscured by distance, spring into focus with startling clarity.

The high resolution print detail comes from a process generally thought to be on the wane: chromogenic printing, or what Duggal markets as HD-C prints.

The particular prints in question are rolling off Polielettronica’s LaserLab DS. Before it landed in Duggal’s New York offices, the technology was used by the U.S. military and intelligence services for printing high-resolution surveillance footage. The prints are sharp enough, Polielettronica says, that land surveyors can count individual trees in aerial images. The company agreed to sell the 50-inch LaserLab printer to Duggal exclusively for an 18 month run (an exclusivity that has recently lapsed). Smaller, 30-inch LaserLabs have been sold to several other photo labs in the U.S.


The LaserLab creates continuous tone prints at DPIs as high as 610 with an apparent resolution of 6100 dpi. The 50-inch model in Duggal’s shop can create a print as large as 50×100 inches on a range of media.

It is the first innovation in photographic processing that has excited CEO Mike Duggal in a while. “Digital photographic used to be the highest quality print you could make, but then inkjet really narrowed that gap,” he says. “This [Poliettronica] technology pushes photographic prints into another category.” Indeed, while other labs are scaling back their investment in c-printing, Duggal continues to invest, he says.

What justifies such an investment? After all, Poliettronica’s competitors, such as Durst and Oce (now owned by Canon), have abandoned the photo market as demand withers. Inkjet printers have gained a sizable foothold in the fine art market thanks to the range of materials they can print to and print lifespans that exceed dye-based c-prints. Indeed, Duggal’s New York facilities have several. Inkjet print quality has also improved—although whether it produces comparable (much less superior) quality to a c-print is a matter of fierce debate. As InfoTrends’ group director of the consumer and professional imaging group Ed Lee tells us, hard numbers on the actual number of photo labs still using c-print processes vs. inkjet are difficult to pin down but the trend lines in photofinishing in general have been pointing south for some time.

To Duggal, though, the investment in more traditional photographic processes begins and ends with the extreme resolution and quality obtainable through a continuous tone print. As others pull back, “we’re still investing in photography,” he says.

The Devil in the Details

Three prints are arrayed on a table: one is an inkjet, another a Lambda photographic print and the last is a print off the LaserLab. The difference between the inkjet and the photographic prints is noticeable immediately, but the difference between the Lambda and Poliettronica output is more subtle. You see it in the silvery sheen of a woman’s jewels or the crystalline details on a watch face. The difference is there, but you need to look for it. You need to get close.

These prints are not for every photographer, Duggal admits. Not every print is subjected to the kind of scrutiny that the HD-C print thrives under. They’re targeted at customers like photographer and artist Spencer Tunik whose work appears in museums and galleries where viewers will get right on top of them. Tunik’s work features hundreds of nude individuals sprawled out in public places. Even with large prints, viewers are always drawn in close to look at people’s faces, Tunik says. With 610 dpi HD-C prints, they can stand as close to the print as they desire and catch all the details. The HD-C print gives Tunik the “through the negative” print quality he says that photo gallery owners and museum curators desire.

Spencer Tunick eyes up his work.

Spencer Tunick eyes up his work.

August 5th, 2015

Inaugural Seattle Art Fair Brings Attention to Under-the-Radar Collector Base


Photo courtesy of the Seattle Art Fair.

More than 60 galleries from across the country and as far afield as Hong Kong participated this past weekend in the first edition of the Seattle Art Fair. Co-organized by Microsoft founder Paul Allen’s Vulcan Inc. and Brooklyn-based art fair producers Art Market Productions, drew more than 15,000 attendees and generated sales that pleased many galleries.

The positive results highlighted what many local and national galleries already knew: that Seattle boasts an important group of collectors, some well-established and others who are beginning to build collections and, thanks to a growing economy and a robust tech sector, have the means to do so. Robert Goff, a director at David Zwirner in New York, says the gallery participated because they feel Seattle is “a good place to build a foundation.” (more…)

August 3rd, 2015

W.M. Hunt on Making “Art” and Artists’ Statements

Veteran collector, curator and photography consultant W.M. Hunt has a reputation for his straight-talking career advice. In this exclusive PDN video, he talks about a strategic mistake made by many aspiring fine-art photographers, and how to avoid it. He also demystifies the process of writing a good artist’s statement, and makes a case against spending a lot of time or energy sweating over it.

PDN Video: W.M. Hunt on How to Build Career Bridges (Not Burn Them)
PDN Video: Mary Virginia Swanson on How to Get the Most Out of a Portfolio Review
13 Tips for Building Your Fine-Art Network (PDN subscribers can log in to
read this article)

Is the Art World Biased Against Commercial Photographers?
Career Advice: Photographer Kitra Cahana on Elevating Your Work
PDN Video: Lens Blog’s James Estrin’s Career Tips for Photojournalists

July 29th, 2015

PDN Video: W.M. Hunt on How to Build Career Bridges (Not Burn Them)

Photography careers are built on talent and hard work. But they also depend upon relationships–with mentors, editors, art directors, curators and others who can provide the critical support required for any career to grow and thrive. Veteran collector, curator and photography consultant W.M. Hunt explains in this exclusive PDN video how to build those important relationships, with tips on how to find a mentor, how to make an impression on the people who can help propel your career, and how to get industry professionals to look at your portfolio–including tips on what NOT to do.

PDN Video: Mary Virginia Swanson on How to Get the Most Out of a Portfolio Review
13 Tips for Building Your Fine-Art Network (PDN subscribers can log in to
read this article)
Is the Art World Biased Against Commercial Photographers?
Career Advice: Photographer Kitra Cahana on Elevating Your Work
PDN Video: Lens Blog’s James Estrin’s Career Tips for Photojournalists

July 22nd, 2015

A Dream Tool: Erica Kelly Martin’s Passion for Medium Format Goes Digital

Sponsored by Ricoh Imaging America

Erica Kelly Martin’s fascination with medium-format photography can be traced back to a mirror hanging in her childhood bedroom, which echoed the aspect ratio of a medium-format frame, and which she believed had the power to lead her into a “magical world.” As a teenager, she experimented with medium-format box cameras. Her first real camera, she notes, was a Pentax Spotmatic, and later, the quintessential Pentax K1000. In those days, she says, the darkroom was also a magical place.

Today the Los Angeles-based photographer prefers to work on long-term photographic series about “the interior lives” of people. “How they manifest who they are,” she explains, “or what they would like to be.” Trying to cast off some of the more shallow Hollywood culture that she grew up with for authentic images, she makes work that delves deeper into the identities of her subjects to portray what she calls their “grace and inner light.”


Photo © Erica Kelly Martin

“I believe all photographs are mental constructs, and reflect more about the mind and culture of the artist than about reality,” she explains. “Every picture is in a sense a self-portrait—sometimes we just use surrogates.”

Martin still dusts off her vintage medium-format film cameras on occasion for studio work, but before picking up the Pentax 645Z digital medium-format camera, shooting with a 35mm DSLR was her modus operandi. But now she wonders why she didn’t invest in a medium-format digital camera sooner. “I would like to shoot this way all the time,” she explains. “First of all, because of the optical quality—I just like the way larger format images look. The bokeh (background blur) is so luscious. Second of course is the image quality, which is so fantastic.”

Marissa at Blue Ranch

Photo © Erica Kelly Martin

While the fragility and expense of other digital medium-format cameras were too fragile for her to make the leap, the 645Z checks all the boxes. “It’s the first camera that made medium-format digital photography a possibility for me,” she says.

It’s the camera she takes along with her for activities as disparate as a wedding on a beach, a landscape shoot amongst canyons, or a portrait project in the studio. It’s also the camera she reaches for when she’s simply lounging around the pool.

She says she’s looking forward to trying out the “sturdy and weatherproofed” 645Z in more challenging conditions, like the Burning Man playa in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert—one of her favorite places to shoot. This means exposing it to harsh conditions: “windstorms blowing fine dust are a constant; as are extreme temperatures, knocking around on bicycles, climbing huge art installations, and dancing till dawn,” she says. In the past, she had to wrap her cameras in plastic, put them in waterproof cases, or tape them up to protect them. “All that got in the way of working in a fast-paced and demanding environment.”

“The main thing I look for in a camera system is that it behaves like an extension of my arm,” she continues. “It has to function on an intuitive level, and if things I want to easily accomplish are hidden deep in some menu, it interferes with my creative process.” She explains that her workflow is simplified with this camera. “The crop is right, the color rendition is spot on, and the sharpness and clarity are exceptional. I now realize how much I had to do to get 35mm images to look the way I wanted them.”

In addition, the aspect ratio of the 645Z reminds her of working with a Pentax 6×7 or a vintage 4×5 “and for some reason, I naturally see in that way,” she says. “This camera does it for me perfectly, as the native image aspect ratio is 4:3.” The 645Z also boasts a 51.4 megapixel CMOS sensor, which Martin says has the ability to bring the deepest shadows in an image “back from the dead” and a high ISO range (up to 204,800) for the ability to work in any type of lighting situation.


Photo © Erica Kelly Martin

Because the subjects of Martin’s shoots vary—from the street to documentary projects to nature to architecture to portraiture — she needs a variety of lenses, Her glass of choice? “I presently have two of the prime lenses—the 55mm and the 90mm Macro, both of which are f/2.8. [They] are my go-to lenses for what I shoot. I am looking forward to trying out the 120mm Macro and perhaps a zoom of some sort, as well as the 75 mm ‘Pancake’ lens for street work.”

Martin says she’s feeling greatly inspired while shooting with this camera, and is even considering the transition into the moving image, knowing she now has what she calls, “a creative tool to match my imagination.”

To learn more about Pentax 645z, visit and see more of Erica Martin’s work, visit



July 1st, 2015

MoMA’s New Photography Show Expands, Explores “Ocean of Images”

© 2015 Lele Saveri "The Newsstand. 2013–14." Mixed medium installation. Courtesy the artist.

© 2015 Lele Saveri “The Newsstand. 2013–14.” Mixed medium installation. Courtesy the artist.

The Museum of Modern Art has announced that it has selected 19 photographers to be shown in the 2015 edition of its “New Photography” exhibition, opening in November.  The number of photographers in this year’s show is more than double the museum’s previous selections – and that’s appropriate, given that the subtitle of this year’s New Photography exhibition is “Ocean of Images.” 
The exhibition will examine the ubiquity of photography today and what the museum describes in its press release as “the Internet as a vortex of images, a site of piracy and a system of networks.” Many of the exhibited photographers experiment with moving images, online remixes of images, installations and images turned into three-dimensional objects.

The title of the photo is provocative in part because it isn’t new.  In a 2014 interview with PDN, MoMA’s chief curator of photography, Quentin Bajac, noted that back in the 1920s and 1930s, critics noted “the ocean of new images, that blizzard of images that is due to the arrival of the illustrated press.”

What will be new in “New Photography 2015” may be the methods by which the exhibiting artists embrace the abundance of digital images. As Bajac told PDN, “Maybe each generation has that feeling that that new amount of images is going to be difficult to absorb, and yet they do.”

The artists in New Photography 2015 are:
Ilit Azoulay (Israeli, b. 1972)
Zbyněk Baladrán (Czech, b. 1973)
Lucas Blalock (American, b. 1978)
Edson Chagas (Angolan, b. 1977)
Natalie Czech (German, b. 1976)
DIS (Collective, founded in New York in 2010)
Katharina Gaenssler (German, b. 1974)
David Hartt (Canadian, b. 1967)
Mishka Henner (Belgian, b. 1976)
David Horvitz  (American, b. 1982)
John Houck (American, b. 1977)
Yuki Kimura (Japanese, b. 1971)
Anouk Kruithof (Dutch, b. 1981)
Basim Magdy (Egyptian, b. 1977)
Katja Novitskova (Estonian, b. 1984)
Marina Pinsky (Russian, b. 1986)
Lele Saveri (Italian, b. 1980)
Indrė Šerpytytė (Lithuanian, b. 1983)
Lieko Shiga (Japanese, b. 1980).

Now in its 30th year, the “New Photography” exhibition has been a showcase and springboard for photographers from around the world, including Mikhael Subotzky, Rineke Dijkstra, Doug Rickard and Viviane Sassen.

“New Photography 2015: Ocean of Images” is curated by Bajac, Senior Curator Roxana Marcoci, and Assistant Curator Lucy Gallun.

When the exhibition opens, MoMA will launch an online platform to show the archive of the New Photography exhibitions of the past 30 years.

Related Articles
MoMA’s New Chief Photo Curator Turns to Studio Photography for First Show

April 10th, 2015

Arne Svenson Exonerated on Appeal in Privacy Invasion Case

From Arne Svenson's series "The Neighbors" ©Arne Svenson

From Arne Svenson’s series “The Neighbors” ©Arne Svenson

A New York State appeals court court has upheld a lower court ruling that rejected privacy invasion claims against fine-art photographer Arne Svenson. But the court has also challenged the New York state legislature to consider legislation to prohibit what Svenson did: photograph his neighbors inside their apartments through their un-curtained windows.

Svenson was sued by Martha and Matthew Foster in 2013 for using a telephoto lens to photograph them and other neighbors through the windows of their apartments, then displaying the images in art galleries for sale as fine-art prints.

The invasion of privacy committed by Svenson was not actionable, state appeals court judge Dianne T. Renwick wrote in a unanimous decision handed down yesterday, “because [Svenson’s] use of the images in question constituted art work and thus is not deemed ‘use for advertising or trade purposes,’ within the meaning of the statute.” (more…)

March 20th, 2015

On Showing Both Commercial & Fine-Art Work: Emily Shur’s Advice

Emily Shur's photograph of Kevin Hart for Men's Health. © Emily Shur

Emily Shur’s photograph of Kevin Hart for Men’s Health. © Emily Shur

"Hotel Pool, Osaka-fu," is part of Shur's ongoing project about Japan. © Emily Shur

“Hotel Pool, Osaka-fu,” is part of Shur’s ongoing project about Japan. © Emily Shur

Emily Shur recently posted on her Tumblr about two of her images (above) being selected for American Photography 31, each shot for very different purposes. One is a portrait of the comedian Kevin Hart commissioned by Men’s Health; the other, a photograph of a hotel pool in Osaka, Japan, that is part of a long-term personal project. While building her career as a commercial and editorial photographer, Shur has also made a point of showing and promoting her personal projects at portfolio reviews, on her site and to her social media audience. She also recently published a book of her work from Japan.

In her Tumblr post, Shur made some interesting observations about how, in a photographer’s career, the pursuits of commercial work and personal work seem, at times, to be in opposition to one another. She also addressed the concern that it might be detrimental or counterproductive for “commercial photographers” to show personal, fine-art photographs that may appear to differ completely from their commissioned images.

We asked Shur for permission to publish excerpts of her blog post here, because we though it might resonate with readers of PDNPulse who aspire to be successful both commercially and with their personal work. (more…)

March 13th, 2015

Blake Little’s Preservation: Dipped in Honey

© Blake Little

© Blake Little

Photographer and artist Blake Little’s new project, Preservation, kicked off a run at the Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles (March 7 – April 18) with a book also available now. The behind-the-scenes video on YouTube (NSFW) drew over 2 million views in a little over a month and a deluge of comments (690 as this was published), including persistent criticism about the use of honey and a dog as a subject. We reached out to Little via email for his thoughts on the project and the reaction it sparked online. (more…)

February 23rd, 2015

Artist Residency for Photographers of Color: Deadline February 28

© Rose Wind Jerome. Photographer Maria Buyondo working at the Center for Photography at Woodstock on her handmade book, Where No One Can See Me.

© Rose Wind Jerome. Photographer Maria Buyondo working at the Center for Photography at Woodstock on her handmade book, Where No One Can See Me.

The artist-in-residency program at the Center for Photography at Woodstock supports artists of color working in the photographic arts who reside in the US. The residency comes with an honorarium, a stipend for food and travel, and access to the Center’s darkroom and assistants. Equally important, the AIR provides artists time to work on projects without the interruptions or distractions of everyday life. Applications for the next CPW residency program must be postmarked February 28 or earlier.

For insights into how photographers have successfully landed this prestigious residency in the past — and how they used their quiet time in upstate New York — check out our article, “Anatomy of a Successful Grant Application: Center for Photography at Woodstock,” and read the comments by photographers Caleb Ferguson and Maria Buyondo and CPW executive director Ariel Shanberg.

An application and submission guidelines are available on the CPW website.

Related articles
Anatomy of a Successful Grant Application: Center for Photography at Woodstock

13 Tips for Building Your Fine-Art Network

Donna J. Wan on the Center for Photography at Woodstock Artist Residency