The word couture is usually associated with fashion, but not anymore. Harvest Pro, the California-based wide-format printer that’s been producing museum quality Giclée prints for more than two decades has turned their sights to the photo industry. Harvest Couture will offer photographers the ability to offer truly unique photographic art pieces to their clients, by printing photographs on acrylic and metal.
Three substrates will be offered: acrylic with hand laid silver leaf, acrylic with white ink printing, and metal with white backgrounds. Out of these three different materials, come four possible ways to print. They currently offer four sizes: 20x30, 24x36, 30x40, and 40x60 inches. Custom printing is possible up to 4x8 feet, and the smallest the company will print is 16x24 inches.
According to Jenny Coulston, Pro Photo Curator for Harvest Couture, these sizes are better for photography. “We do believe if you’re going to do it, do it at least as a 20x30. At that size the images feel like an art piece,” she says. The biggest issue for the company is showing off the end result to prospective customers, because the printing processes create a one-of-a-kind photograph. When you view these prints, slightly altering your viewing angle can change the way the image looks.
Coulston says photographers can have multiple-piece editions created or one-offs.
This 40x60-inch print on metal hangs in the Wedding Sales Room at the Ritz Carlton in Laguna Niguel, Calif. ©Kathleen Clark Photography
Harvest Couture is a collaborative process. Depending upon the image, Coulston and her staff will work with the photographer to decide what printing technique to use. Because they are constantly working with the materials, they know how different subjects and colors will look with the various techniques. Once a technique is chosen, Harvest Couture creates a soft proof, then an 8x12-inch proof using the specific printing technique. Feedback is requested from the photographer. Once approval is given, a full-size print is created. “From the moment an image is chosen for printing, Harvest Couture and the photographer begin the collaboration,” says Coulston.
Photographer Kathleen Clark, of KCP Studios has worked with Harvest Pro in developing a unique vision for her business. In addition to shooting portraits and weddings, Clark does a lot of work with local art dealers. “We’re seen as more of a contemporary art photography,” Clark explains. “As a studio, we’re excited at what we can do with the Harvest Couture line. We can offer photographic pieces that are different from any other studio, and that consumers can’t do themselves,” she says. Clark has begun to understand what the various media can and can’t do for an image. She says that certain types of photographs work better than others. For Couture images, Clarke says she’ll shoot a few photographs with an artistic composition in mind, and then play with the tones in Adobe Lightroom before sending them to Harvest Pro. She then works with Coulston to create unique pieces of art from her images.
Bridging art and portrait and wedding work, Clark has replaced most of the display prints in her studio with Couture images. “Its like a SoHo gallery now, with a few wedding and portrait pieces and art images on different media on display,” she says.
©Kathleen Clark Photography
“I think for some photographers, it will be a trial and error process until they understand how the media works. You also have to handle the final pieces with care,” she says. Clark explains that she installs these pieces in her clients’ homes for them. “There is a learning curve,” she notes, “but I see this being really exciting for photographers who have been in the business for years. Couture opens your eyes to the endless possibilities that you have as an artist,” she adds.
Coulston explains that on occasion a photographer will give Harvest Couture permission to take an image to the next level based on what they feel will work best. Photographer Judy Host did this with one of her images. Coulston and her staff decided what would work best for the image, and until it arrived at her doorstep, Host didn’t know what the printed image would look like.
“I believe part of the creative process, for myself anyway, is having no boundaries. Once there is a trust level established between two artists, anything can happen, and for me, that's the best. Having seen what they were capable of and the obvious talent they had, I had no concerns about how they would present my work,” Host explains.
“I had no idea which image they would select, or process they would use, so the anticipation level was tremendous. When it finally came, I was just overwhelmed by what I saw,” she explains. The image is low-key, of a 5-year-old girl sitting on a bench in the studio. A dark backdrop covers the bench. The image is cropped as a vertical and is 13x29 inches. It is printed on a smoked mirror and beautifully framed to match. Host raves, “It is exquisite. Hung at eye level and lit, it is a show stopper.”
Harvest Couture is priced to be affordable for photographers to resell, from $109 for a 20x30 printed on metal to $869 for a 40x60 printed on acrylic with hand laid silver leaf, including the proof. The average art buyer shouldn’t balk at the price tag, so photographers can mark up these one-of-a kind art pieces with confidence.
If you’re looking for a fresh new direction to take your photography, a Harvest Couture piece may be just what you’re looking for.