Les Picker Offers Nature Photography Prints In Custom Formats
Award-winning photographer Les Picker and Master Printmaker Robert Boyer are on a mission to bring the beauty of nature to the interiors of homes, offices, and institutions. At the Les Picker Fine Art Photography Studio in Havre de Grace, Maryland, they produce nature photography prints in many forms, including: framed and unframed limited-edition fine-art prints, portfolio editions, folio collections, and custom window and glass-wall treatments, backlit fabrics for LED lightboxes, and wall-size naturescapes on durable wallcovering materials.
Les Picker, who has a doctorate in environmental affairs, travels to exotic locales to explore the natural world and other cultures. He shoots images and writes about what he sees.
Les has been taking photos since he was 11. His work has appeared in National Geographic Society publications and many other corporate magazines and newspapers. He was a monthly columnist and features contributor to Oceans Magazine and a weekly columnist, op-ed contributor, and features travel writer and photographer for The Baltimore Sun. He shoots with Hasselblad and Nikon equipment and is a member of Nikon Professional Services, Hasselblad Professionals, and the American Society of Journalists and Authors.
Robert (Bob) Boyer has a background in editorial photography, physics, and technology. As the in-house Master Printer and tech guru for Les Picker Fine Art Photography, Bob handles all of the prints that Les Picker Fine Art Photography sells to discerning art collectors, corporations, institutions, and decorators.
Picker and Boyer use a commercial photo lab only for specific requirements, such as prints laminated behind clear Plexiglas, output on aluminum panels, or stretched to fit custom lightboxes that curve with a wall. Picker and Boyer have been working together about six years. Picker appreciates Bob’s natural proclivity for technical issues, noting that “He is also an incredibly gifted studio photographer and a Master Printmaker. His sense of aesthetics jives with mine, so we tend to know where we will be taking an image from capture to print.”
In keeping with the changing demand for professional photography, many of their projects involve custom installations for offices, healthcare facilities, and homes. For example, Picker was chosen as the exclusive artist for a new medical wing of the Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. He and Bob created and installed several large murals in the hospital.
“We never promote a one-size fits all approach,” Picker explains. “After arranging an initial consultation about the client’s needs and desired outcomes, we measure the available space and propose a customized visual art solution.” Picker enjoys doing commercial installations and residential art because, “I get to see people’s immediate reaction to my work and their enjoyment of how it affects their work or living space.”
Printing Still Matters
“Both Bob and I feel that prints are where the rubber meets the road in photography,” explains Picker. “Prints are tactile. They are luscious when done right. Print also continues the historical thread of our craft. It is the only constant display medium in a world of rapid change.”
According to Boyer, paper selection is an important element in the aesthetics of the print: “The media we use is quite image dependent. It’s rare that I will like the same paper for color and black and white. It’s even more unusual that I’ll like the same paper for many different subjects.”
“It’s not always about any particular specification,” Boyer says. “For instance, it doesn’t always matter if a particular paper can render the blackest blacks. It depends on the image, and the feel of the paper. We do a lot of experimentation and reflection on the aesthetics.” For collections of fine art prints or works that will be presented in a series, Boyer and Picker frequently choose Museo Silver Rag because of its universal appeal.
“Canvas is also extremely popular as a medium,” says Boyer. “Our taste gravitates toward a matte finish. It’s very good in a space that would produce a lot of reflections on a gloss print or glass. Canvas also lends itself to just about any room. Other print treatments can be surprisingly space dependent on how the art feels.” When choosing substrates for large-format photo prints, consistency is hugely important, says Boyer. “Inconsistency in surface, color, or even stiffness can cause huge issues for us.”
For example, when printing photo murals on wallcovering materials, the photos are printed as strips and then edge matched on the wall: “Any variation in surface texture or color from one roll of paper to another is catastrophic. So we do a lot of evaluation before committing to a product or project.” They use Magic® MuralPro inkjet wallcovering materials that were developed by some of the most experienced inkjet-media developers in the business. For the Sinai hospital installation they used Magic Mural Pro wallcovering materials with two coats of Museo’s Enhance clearcoating to provide durability.
The video above shows a 30-foot wall in Sinai Hospital that was covered with one of Les’ purpose-shot images of Baltimore Harbor.
Sharing Knowledge through Workshops
Les Picker offers two types of customized workshops for small groups of photographers. Participants range from rank amateurs to serious enthusiasts and professionals who want to see new places or pick up new skills.
Field Workshops: For learn-by-doing instruction in some of the world’s most breathtaking locales, you can attend one of the field workshops Picker conducts in places such as Sri Lanka, the Yukon Territory, New Mexico, and Acadia National Park in Maine. Some of these multi-day workshops are co-offered through the Nikonians Academy, where Picker is on the faculty.
Day-Long Workshops: Picker also offers day-long workshops, including printing, composition, graduated neutral density filters and more.
Mentoring: Picker’s increasingly popular one-on-one mentoring program is for photographers who are seeking an intense learning experience, whether out in the field or in post-processing and printing. These are full-day sessions with follow-up critique and feedback for 90 days.
Field-Print Workshops: In these weekend-long workshops, photographers learn capture techniques from Les Picker and printing techniques from Bob Boyer. After spending a day in the field shooting images, you’ll learn how to prepare your best images for printing. The next day, you will work with Bob and Les to make a museum-quality photo print on an archival inkjet art paper. You will take your prints home for framing and mounting and learn about non-paper options for displaying your images.
Workshop attendees like getting instant feedback while experimenting with different approaches, says Bob.
“Being there, working hands on, and seeing the results is so much different than reading about it,” he says “When someone is right there with you, you can internalize what words like ‘bump it up’ or ‘a little bit’ means. When students start seeing the results of their tweaks and adjustments, they get a startlingly different view of what’s possible. That’s what happens when we’re working on a print.”
“There isn’t a magic recipe or technical set of steps that will make every print wonderful,” cautions Boyer. “But once you understand the sequence of steps involved in fine photo printing, there’s an art to making decisions regarding the way a photograph renders on paper.”
Limited Edition Prints, Portfolio Editions, and Folio Collections
“Photographic fine art has always been defined by print,” notes Picker. Les Picker Photography offers fine art editions as limited edition prints, portfolio editions, and folio collections.
For collectors who want to know the story behind each of his fine art photo prints, Picker is happy to oblige. On the “Limited Editions” section of his website, you can read the colorful stories behind some of his favorite images. Reading these stories can help you imagine what it might be like to attend one of his field workshops.
Freedom Paper Offers Multiple Options for Photo Printing
At Freedom Paper, we applaud Les Picker Fine Art Photography Studio for their innovations in helping companies and homeowners get the greatest possible enjoyment from beautiful nature photography prints. We also commend their efforts to teach photography enthusiasts about how to shoot better pictures and convert them into different types of prints.
Freedom Paper proudly offers a variety of options for printing fine-art photography. We sell fine art photography papers and canvases from Museo, Hahnemuhle, Innova, Haman by Hahnemuhle, and Moab by Legion Paper, and the Moab Chinle line of presentation books and archival boxes.
Freedom Paper sells MuralPro wallcovering materials for permanent art installations as well as inkjet fabrics for backlit graphics in LED boxes and repositionable, no-residue adhesives for shorter-duration wall displays.
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