A Simple Illustration of the Importance of Proper Print Lighting

I was recently revising the information that I send to the wonderful people who've purchased a night photography print. A sincere, heartfelt thanks to those of you who've decided to put one of my images on your wall -- I appreciate your support. The print info includes details about the Lightjet printing process, paper, print handling, and finishing options (matting, framing, mounting, etc.). I take great care in my printing and I hope it shows. Like everything else, prints are subjective, and printing night photographs that clearly "read" as night photography can be a particularly challenging enterprise. After printing and selling night photographs for a few years, I realized there is a key issue that needs discussion with fine art print clients: print display lighting. My ideal night photography printing style is a little bit on the dark side. For a night photography print to really sing, some type of dedicated lighting is required for the finished product.

Let's observe a visual illustration of this often overlooked aspect of presenting your work. The following photo was taken under low ambient room lighting, and adjusted to simulate how much detail can be seen in the print:

Arnold Schwarzenegger with ambient room lighting

You can't see much detail, and the contrast is flat. What this print really needs is a dedicated light source to reveal the inherent artistic majesty:

Arnold Schwarzenegger with proper print lighting

The dedicated lighting makes this print the centerpiece of the room. The print now displays excellent detail and snappy contrast. The pictures tell the story better than I can explain this concept in words. If you want to print deep, dark luscious night photographs, they're going to need some display lighting. Without proper lighting your customers will see a flat, dark print that reveals their reflection in the glass. But with proper lighting your work will soar.