1.31.2011

Do you remember when we used to print things?


I got just got copies of an annual report that I worked on last year.  We started in the Summer when it was hot and steamy and we finished on a freezing, overcast day in December.  The design of the annual report was very, very good but the thing I liked most about it (in addition to the photography) was the printing.  Whoever spec'ed the printing didn't mess around with skinny, toilet tissue newsprint.  They went with rich, glossy premium white stock.  The high priced spread.  And they used a six color offset printer with nice machines.  No cheesy powder dye printing.  And the result is makes this report look like the best handprinted Lightjet/Cibachrome prints you ever saw.  And you know what?  When everyone else settles for what they think is "good enough" and then something like this comes along and sits next to it, the makers of the lesser work should just hang their heads and walk away.

And maybe that's where we're coming to with photography.  Maybe so many people have settled for "just-good-enough" stock photography and "just-okay-but-really-cheap" production values and "she's- not-really-the-person-we-wanted-in-the-ad-but-she-works-in-HR-and-she-was-free" not quite there models, that they've diminished peoples' memories of what really great stuff looked like.  And when something really well done comes along it sticks out from the crowd like gold coins in a pile of...... leftover pizza.  And everyone recognizes the difference in quality.  And then clients will want something that's as good as "that piece that Bob did."  You know, the one that won all the awards and grabbed everyone's attention.

Could it be that after a decade of "good enough" the pendulum could actually swing back in the other direction toward........WOW!!!!! THAT'S FANTASTIC.  ?????

Well.  One of my clients just did it and I was blown away.  I wonder if we can make that reality the next big social trend.  We could call it.........I WANT STUFF TO BE THE VERY BEST IT CAN BE.  Because we only get to do this one time around.  And wouldn't it be great if the work of our lives was something we could be proud of?


While printing presses have been modernized, at the top it's still the same process of spreading ink across a sheet of paper.  At high rates of speed.  Yeah.  Let's do this thing right.

10 comments:

Daniel said...

Still waiting for the day to get published...But I think you are absolutely right...the other day Scott Kelby wrote a blog saying that he went over some older images and didn't like the post processing technique he used and wanted to re edit them...And that is fine, but I want my images to be timeless the first time around. Your images are that way, and I cannot help but appreciate that.

Thanks for the post and the excellence.

Daniel

Steve Dodds said...

I hear you, Kirk. Served my apprenticeship in a great print shop. Better than sitting in front of a computer. Still love the smell of ink on freshly printed paper. Or it may just be the solvents. Or the lead absorbed from type metal. or the sulphuric acid fumes from etch baths. Or the ammonia fumes from developing diazos. Yup! the good old days alright.

Silvertooth said...

Thank you, Kirk! I am a public school teacher in a town where just getting by is the norm and seems to be praised by the community. Did I mention the city's largest employer is still cleaning up a little accident they had in the Gulf this summer? Maybe doing their best could have prevented that. Anyway, please go over to the Capitol and encourage our friends to enact some legislation that encourages and promotes excellence instead of mediocrity. It starts with family and schools. We need your help!

Billy said...

Couldn't agree more Kirk. For me personally and from what I've observed is that there is a difference between showing someone a nice print and showing someone a digital file on a screen.

Anonymous said...

What is the company? I work in finance and recieve about a gazillion annual reports a year. I'll probably will get this one as well. I'd like to see what "the best handprinted Lightjet/Cibachrome prints you ever saw" look like!

kirk tuck said...

It's the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority.

Dave Jenkins said...

Sorry, Silvertooth. Every bit of legislation and government action to promote excellence has failed, usually adding unintended consequences to the problem. Excellence begins in the home and in individuals.

kirk tuck said...

I think you teach and lead by example. I don't ever want my 15 year old kid to see me do something half assed. And the same goes for my assistants. I'll always spend the extra time to re-do anything I'm not satisfied with. "Be the change you wish to see in the world." -Ghandi.

Ed Lara said...

Great post, Kirk. I hope our kids' generation is exposed to more work of the caliber you described; there is just so much drivel that passes for art or commercially good photography that it makes me worry that our kids won't know good work when they see it. For my part, while I rarely come across "great" work in my field which I am happy to share with my sons, I've tried to give my older boy a steady diet of photos by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Eisenstaedt, Larry Burrows, Margaret Bourke-White and Robert Capa as inspiration.

Silvertooth said...

Dave and Kirk--I am actually hoping they repeal some of what they have already passed! Please note that I did mention family before schools. Unfortunately, there is little direction in many homes and even less in schools. We have, sadly, become a nation that accepts less than the best. I always liked the ad line for Lexus automobiles, "The relentless pursuit of perfection." Hopefully, I will be a better influence to my whippersnappers tomorrow than today--everyday. Stay warm!