A photo will never fully reflect the vision of any photographer until it is printed professionally and protected by a frame. Print continues to maintain the integrity of an image turning it into a piece of art. I speak with Tyson from Fox Lab Fine Art.
Firstly, can you start with a little bit about yourself and your business?
Hi Kat, firstly thanks for taking the time to reach out to me! Its not often that us print makers get asked for interviews, we are mostly left to our own devices tucked away in a dark room to work our magic ;) So it came as a wonderful surprise when you asked if i would like to answer a few questions. A little about me, I’m first and foremost a husband and father to two amazing girls! I grew up down in the town of Dunsborough where i guess my love of photography began. Growing up with such amazing places to photograph really pushed my love of the art and being surrounded by the likes of Christian Fletcher and Tony Hewitt gave me constant inspiration to further my passion.
Fox Lab came about two years ago when I felt that the industry was lacking places to be able to take your work and get a more personal experience. Having worked in a few different print labs i became frustrated with the “Drop off and collect later” approach that seemed to be the consensus at most places. As far as i see it, you guys ( the photographer and artist) put your heart and soul into these images and they deserve to be treated and handled with the same attention to detail and care that you gave them in the process leading up to print. Due to this fact I prefer to work very closely with my clients to produce an image that is capable of gracing not only living room walls but galleries alike!
How did you begin your journey in printmaking?
I’ve always been a creative person growing up, living down south and being constantly surrounded with nature lead to a natural progression to pickup a camera. After I moved to Perth to Study at University (Art and Design) I found a job a a camera store that had a print lab attached to it. Working there gave me my first taste of printing images which I instantly fell in love with. There was something about seeing your images come to life that got me excited. I learnt a lot from working there about the ins and outs of a print lab and felt I needed more, so i decided to purchase my first printer, a little A2 desktop Epson which i spent countless nights experimenting with and learning as much as I could. This was, without me knowing at the time, my first step towards where I am today. I am constantly learning and experimenting to this date and that’s what I love so much about what I do! There is always new ways to print and display an image, I am very grateful to the people who give me complete creative control with their images.
Can you explain your workflow and creative process?
My workflow and creative process both start with the same thing…..the blues. There is something about this type of music that just gets my creative juices flowing. I have an old Rank Arena record player in my studio that is always spinning some type of blues record, i find i do my best work when its paying away. After that it really depends on the image or piece of artwork i am working on, everything that comes through the studio is different to the next and offers its own unique process to ensure its printed to absolute perfection. Generally each job starts by the artist and myself having a chat about what they want to achieve from the process, some want to produce limited edition prints, some are looking at producing work to exhibit while some are simply wanting to setup a print store and offer their work online.
Each of these require a slightly different approach to the printing process with slightly different outcomes but all must be treated with the utmost care and attention to detail. Once we have had a chat about the desired outcome then it comes to checking files and ensuring we are getting 110% out of each image, that may require slight adjustments and some digital manipulation to ensure the files are print ready.
From there we do test printing to ensure we are both happy with the results and to also test various types of paper to ensure we are using the right stock (if there is such a thing!) Once files have been prepped and test prints are complete. We can then move on to the final run of prints. This may sound like a long process but its necessary and something I take very seriously, this is what separates Fox Lab from every other print lab.
What software do you use for image editing?
I feel my list of software never ends lately, there seems to be a piece of software for almost everything. Let me list some of what i use and why;
Photoshop - used for the bulk of my photo editing, a very powerful program that can still confuse the best of us (to this date i have found 7 ways to brighten an image alone!)
Lightroom - used only to show clients correct ways to export their images, i find a lot people are using Lightroom these days to process their work and its a very powerful tool. One thing I do like about Lightroom is the workflow uses a Prophoto RGB 16bit colour space which is nice to see.
ADP Luminosity Mask Panel - A good friend and incredible landscape photographer Aaron Dowling is the brain child behind this panel, using in conjunction with Photoshop is allows the user to create and refine extremely accurate selections of your images based on the brightness values (luminance) of the pixels. For those serious about their landscape photography i highly encourage you to check this out!
Capture One - Used to tether my camera and photograph remotely when photographing artwork for reproduction.
Lumariver pro- A fantastic program used to create very accurate .icc profiles for my camera and lighting setup in the studio.
I1 Profiler - Allows me to create .icc profiles for my printer and paper combinations.
Spectra Shop - A great tool for measuring the output and colour temperature of light sources
Photozoom pro - A great program to re size images using specific algorithms to ensure minimal artefacts and better outcomes than if you were to use photoshop.
A lot of these are not specific to image editing but I use them in my day to day workflow.
Which paper do you prefer to use and why?
A Cotton Based paper always! There is just something so beautiful about the look and feel of an image printed on a cotton based paper. While traditional semi gloss photo papersare used in a wide variety of printing i still always come back to the Cotton papers, they have a warmth about them that seem to bring an image to life! I have also recently been printing with a range of Japanese Hand made Washi papers from a company called Awagami. They have a beautiful soft texture to them that translates so well on certain types of imagery, i am wanting to put together an exhibition soon using only these papers.
Do you have any photographic inspirations?
I take inspiration from everywhere, not only photographers but Artists, musicians, mechanics, the list goes on. I find inspiration through anyone that is totally submersed in their craft. One of the things i enjoy most is watching someone who is so dedicated to their work that it almost becomes a part of them, watching them work and think drives me to constantly further my education in my field to be the best i can. To answer your question, in the photographic industry my biggest inspiration comes from a photographer named Dr Les Walkling. For those that don’t know or have never heard of Les, he is one of Australias top landscape photographers and he also happens to be a world leader in the field of colour management. I have been fortunate to take a few of his classes and to simply hear the man talk is inspiring in its own right.
Do you have any tips for photographers when it comes to imagery?
Practise, ask questions and (I know this might sound bias of me) print your work! i have seen so many of my own clients work progress so much faster after they started printing. Another tip I would offer is to enrol in courses, wether that be at TAFE or through professional photographers. Not only do you get to meet other people and hear their stories but Photography is such a hands on craft that I find one of the best ways to learn is to be around other photographers who are like minded.
The AIPP is a great way to start and an amazing environment to be around, you are surrounded by our industry best who are always so willing to offer advise - For those who don’t know the AIPP is The Australian Institute of Professional Photography .
What is something you wish people understood about print making?
I don’t simply hit “file and print” much to my wife disbelief. The process of printing an image takes time and must be handled with the utmost care and attention to detail, after all this is the final product, after all that time spent composing the photograph or painting the artwork it’s the final print that people judge and hang on their walls.
Do you have any advice for photographers wanting to print fine art images?
My biggest advise, find someone that cares as much about printing your work as you did creating it, then and only then will you be able to produce prints that translate the emotion and time that you have invested in them on to paper ( and if you can’t, call me) Finally, why did you pick this profession
I don’t think I did! It seems to be the natural progression for me from photographer to the one who now prints their work. I feel very lucky to be able to do this job and to help people bring their work to life, it has allowed me to connect with so many different people from all walks of life, much like how I connected with you (Kat) We are very lucky here in W.A to have such an amazing community of photographer who are so willing to share information and help one another out and I feel extremely lucky to be a part of that.
Fox Lab Fine Art