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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Vision To Visuals: Challenging The Norms

Find your style

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For the in-store gallery installation, Whitman provided us with the 35mm negatives of his photographs, which we printed and enlarged to sizes as large as 10 feet by seven feet. Although today most of my business is from digital printing, I’m extremely proud that I’ve continued to provide traditional printing services to photographers like Whitman who are emotionally connected to the tactility of hand processing and printing photographs. To highlight the fact that his photographs were printed directly from film, we printed them with the frame of the negative visible as a border around the image. The largest print was T-pinned to the wall and allowed to float to showcase the sheer size that we can print film, which is 72 by 120 inches.

Whitman complemented his in-store fine-art installation with images of the collection he chose to shoot on small Polaroid film. Instead of bearing the huge expenses of an elaborate fashion shoot, Whitman approached the eryn brinié Fall Collection with the same simplicity and spontaneity that has characterized his work for more than 20 years. Whitman shot the eryn brinié campaign on Polaroids to appeal to their youthful clientele and to have the campaign be one of a kind and reflect his work displayed in the store. This campaign of instant, unmanipulated Polaroids represented a stark departure from the commercial fashion photographs that adorn most retail houses. It’s rare to find a client like eryn brinié who would give us complete freedom to create, install and curate Polaroid images in their showroom and encourage us to highlight Whitman’s photographs. Their choice to place more emphasis on art than commerce, I believe, will create a brand that can quickly gain the trust of a large audience. This trend toward sincerity and customization is here to stay.

The interesting thing I found out about Whitman is that although he has been shooting digital for more than two decades, he still prefers to use film when he can. Film allows him to be surprised, as it offers unexpected moments and mistakes—pictures that he considers his best photographs. This unadulterated quality that Whitman loves about film also characterizes his photography style, which is perfectly suited to the hip, noncorporate brand personality of eryn brinié. This was one of the few pure traditional photography exhibitions we’ve done where no digital format was used either for the fashion shoot or the fine-art works that were being displayed.

I’m glad to see brands like eryn brinié change the rules of advertising and fashion imagery. Hopefully, now, the staying power of a brand will be represented by simplicity and continuity, not the jolts of fad-based fashion ideas. This is, in many ways, a return back to the basics when timelessness and subtleness were rewarded, and iconic imagery was created through a close creative collaboration between a photographer and a brand.

So as we all get back to the basics, it’s advice from Whitman that I’d like to share: “Don’t be influenced by the style of current trends; find your own particular direction and style.”

Baldev Duggal, president and founder of Duggal, has been innovating visual solutions for image-makers for more than 40 years. Credited with building and designing the industry’s first dip-and-dunk processing machine, Duggal has maintained his status as a leader in the imaging business and is heralded for outstanding service by consumer and trade magazines alike. With digital capabilities reaching worldwide, his headquarters covers a block on West 23rd Street in New York City.


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