Food For Thought From One of Today's Hottest Photographers


I read a really fascinating article in the November 2007 issue of “Digital Photo Pro” magazine, about photographer and Photoshop retoucher Gary Land. He is just an absolutely amazing celebrity and sports photographer who captures the biggest stars for everything from Rebok ads to editorial spreads in the biggest national magazines, and he is definitely “the man in demand.”

Land has created his own trademark look, which incorporates some absolutely brilliant compositing techniques, which combines detailed planning in the shooting stage (including meticulous lighting), and some serious Photoshop skills in the darkroom. But besides an enlightening article on his work, he said a couple of things in the article that I thought were worth sharing. He shoots 99% of his work with a digital camera, but sometimes the client specifically requests film, so he obliges, but here’s his quote about film:

“I love film, but it’s a pain in the ass, because you’ve got to shoot the film, change the film, you’ve got to process it, you’ve got to scan it. It’s just a pain, and it doesn’t look as good in the end. It really doesn’t.”

But what really caught my eye, was his comment about printing resolution. He said:

“I got into a fight with a printer company rep the other day. I’m like, ‘I’ve printed this stuff.’ I print all my files at 150 dpi. He said, ‘You’re crazy.’ I said I am not crazy. I’m telling you there’s no difference, and I do these tests all the time. I can print one of my files at 150 and the same file at 300 [dpi] and it’s the exact same look. Take a magnifying glass and it’s the same. 150 is awesome.”

He goes on to say,

“That’s a little secret I think. I like printing at 150 [dpi] it just looks much better.”

I’ve subscribed to his “less resolution is more” theory for more than 10 years, since the brilliant Photoshop and prepress magician Doug Gornick showed me the light. Doug was printing everything at 144 dpi. He said the print shop will always argue with you that it can’t be done, but they’re always amazed with the results. I saw Doug’s results again and again, and the proof was in the pudding. To this day, I feel the “use only 300 dpi for print” line is another one of those Photoshop myths that may have been accurate (or just plain simple to pass on a general rule), years ago, but I personally don’t think it’s really relevant anymore. But hey, that’s just me. :)

Stop by and check out Gary Land’s amazing work (much of which is composites of the athlete or celebrity being shot in 15 minutes or less on white seamless, and then is composited seamlessly with a separate background in Photoshop afterward), at his site (click here to jump there).

You can read the feature article on Gary from Digital Photo Pro’s Web site (click here to read it online).

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