Cheryl Walsh prints “The Ascension of Salacia” on Canson Infinity Edition Etching.
When Cheryl Walsh isn’t submerged in her swimming pool shooting fine art portraits of models or on dry land creating portraits for high school seniors, she can be found at her computer, preparing to bring her images to life through prints. With a dual photography business that allows her to express herself as an artist, Cheryl wanted complete creative control from start to finish. She found the only way that was possible was to print her own work.
But the journey of becoming a one-stop photography business and print shop wasn’t as straightforward as one might think. Cheryl had already mastered the science involved in creating her images, things like determining the best time of year to shoot so the ground temperature wouldn’t change the molecular structure of the pool water and therefore make it cloudy, or discovering the amount of chlorine necessary to keep the water in the pool clean while keeping her models comfortable, which cut down on the number of days she could shoot. She had developed an editing style that gives her underwater fine art portraits a unique, ethereal and dream-like quality. She had learned the importance of having a properly calibrated monitor and understanding color space. But when it came to printing, she just wasn’t getting what she had envisioned from the final product.
“Creating a piece of artwork that looks beautiful and then trying to print it and failing—to me that was failing as an artist,” Cheryl explains. “In my mind, without the print, I just became someone who creates an image and puts it on Facebook. If I couldn’t create the print the way I wanted it, then I wasn’t really an artist.”
It took someone to explain the importance of paper selection to completely change Cheryl’s life. She called Eric Joseph of Freestyle Photographic Supplies and explained how her printer wasn’t giving her the results she envisioned. She recalls, “He said, ‘It’s not the printer; you picked the wrong paper.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, but I like this paper.’ He said, ‘You can like it all you want, but it’s not going to do what you want it to do.’”
Cheryl soon met with Joseph to attend an “inkjet psychotherapy” session. Knowing she was already a fan of Canson Infinity paper, Joseph made numerous prints of her work on paper from Canson and others, but wouldn’t let her see which paper was used for each print. He used paper from at least five different manufacturers, and Cheryl says it was hands down Canson Infinity that made the grade.
“When he handed me a Canson Infinity print, I started crying,” Cheryl says. “It was the first time I had ever seen my work look like a piece of artwork. And it was the first time I ever felt like an artist. He had the right ICC profiles for his printer and picked the right paper, and that was it.
“It just opened my eyes,” she continues. “I realized we all approach this from the perspective of the printer, and it’s not the printer. Most modern printers are amazing; they do an incredible job. It was the paper.
Cheryl also learned that some of her work looked better on certain papers than others depending on the color and density of the image. This helped her narrow down her paper selection to cover the spectrum of her work. “Now I have just three papers that I print on, and it’s very simple,” she explains. “They cover all the bases, from one extreme to the next. Now there’s no confusion, no need to try different things. I have all my needs met. And now when I print, every single image comes out of my printer perfect. I’ve never printed a test image since the day I met Joseph and discovered the importance of the paper.”
Cheryl discovered that Canson Infinity’s Platine Fiber Rag was the perfect paper for images like “The Ascension of Salacia.” She explains, “It has a smooth coating on the front and the backing of it is 100-percent cotton. I always want my images to be printed on something that’s substantial, that feels handmade and that has softness to it but will still hold the detail and the color of my images. Platine is perfect for that. I have other images that have a lot of black in them, and Platine will hold all of that.”
She also likes Canson Infinity Baryta Prestige because it’s a substantial paper that has a good weight to it. “The coating on it is brighter; it’s a little more white than the other two papers I print on, which have a warmer cast to them. Baryta is for my images that are punchier and poppier. It gives them an almost three-dimensional look—the color and contrast kind of pop off the page.”
Rounding out her paper selection is Canson Infinity Edition Etching, which is a matte paper. “It feels and looks like a watercolor paper,” Cheryl says. “To me, it looks handmade, which I really like. It has texture, but not so much texture that it distorts the faces of the people in my pictures. I use it for my images that are a little bit softer. It still holds the detail, but it’ll always be a little soft on the blacks.”
With a 450-year history of papermaking and 150 years of experience making photographic paper, Canson knows how to deliver to artists that know the importance of the print. “This is the Mercedes Benz of paper companies,” Cheryl says.
Try Canson Infinity paper for yourself. Get a FREE sample pack of award-winning Canson Infinity Baryta Prestige here.