ARTICLE

Landscape photographer Carla Regler on how she built a business selling photography prints

Waves crash over the sea wall during an early-morning storm at Porthleven in Cornwall. Photo by Carla Regler.
This widely published image, Porthleven Washout, was captured by landscape photographer Carla Regler a few hours after sunrise during the late winter storms of 2014. "The colour temperature changed all morning with the weather," says Carla. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X (now succeeded by the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II) with a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens (now succeeded by the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM) at 1/200 sec, f/8 and ISO250. © Carla Regler

"It's the greatest pleasure seeing your image come to life, to be able to hold that print and show it off," says sea and landscape photographer Carla Regler, who decided to start selling prints of her photography in order to grow her business.

As a self-taught photography enthusiast, Carla loved nothing more than roaming the countryside with her dogs and capturing the surrounding landscapes. When her partner, Chris, realised his dream of opening a restaurant on the Cornish coast, the rugged cliffs and coastal landscapes in and around Porthleven offered plenty of inspiration, and the prints of Carla's photos that decorated the restaurant's walls soon drew interest from diners.

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Carla bought a Canon PIXMA PRO-1 to print photographs for sale, including her most famous image to date – a dramatic seascape taken during storms in 2014, which was widely published and won the Weather category of the British Life Photography Awards. Buoyed by this success and by social media attention, Carla began leading workshops with Charlie Waite's Light & Land landscape photography tour company, and her customer base grew to the point where she secured a gallery space, two doors down from the restaurant.

Carla and Chris now live on the small island of Uist in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland, where she continues to be inspired by dramatic landscapes, mostly captured on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens. Here she reveals why she started printing her own images to sell, how she ensures her prints are of the highest quality, and the benefits printing her own shots has brought to her business.

Sunset over the sea wall at Porthleven, Cornwall, streaking the sky with red and gold. Photo by Carla Regler.
This image of a Cornish sunset is called A Fire in my Heart. "It's been purchased by many customers who have lost loved ones and for whom Porthleven holds special memories," says Carla. "Naming an image really allows you to connect with your customers, and that can lead to sales." Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X with a Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens at 1/200 sec, f/6.3 and ISO800. © Carla Regler
Photo prints displayed on an easel next to an ornate wooden chest of drawers, with smaller prints in some of the drawers.
A corner of Carla's gallery space, where she can display her photo prints, which she has printed, framed and mounted herself.

1. Doing it yourself makes business sense

When Carla opened her gallery, she calculated that print sales would need to form 65% of her earnings to keep the business afloat. "I'd gone from having no overheads to having to pay rent plus running costs," she says. "Doing my own printing lowered my overheads and increased my profits." At the time, it cost Carla £6 (about €7) to produce an A3 print – considerably less than a printing service, leaving her a good margin even after the additional cost of mounts and frames. Time is also an important factor: "I can print as and when I want, so turnaround times are faster," she explains. "If someone is only in the area for a short holiday, waiting a week for a printing service could mean losing the sale."

2. Adopt a colour managed workflow

In order to help control colour and tone, it's essential to invest in a monitor calibration device, advises Carla, and to use the correct colour profile for your printer and paper. This way, "every print that is produced is the exact colour I want and matches the image on my monitor," she says. "Not only does this ensure prints of a consistently high quality, it helps to keep ink and paper wastage to a minimum."

A Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 printer outputting a colourful print.

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3. Match your paper to your image

When it comes to paper, Carla always opts for quality over quantity. "You're after longevity; you don't want to see your print returned because the paper failed and the print faded," she says. "Most editing software has a Soft Proof option, which lets you see what the print will look like on different paper types."

The paper Carla chooses depends on the image. She creates printing profiles for each paper type, inputting colour profiles and rendering intent to save time and reduce wastage. "For a more matt image, I'd choose Fotospeed Platinum Etching 285 or Cotton Etching 305, both of which have a texture that adds an element of depth. Something like Fotospeed Platinum Baryta 300, which has a lovely weight to it, works well with the Canon PIXMA PRO-1 for a variety of images."

A puffin in the rain. Photo by coastal landscape photographer Carla Regler.
Carla took this shot of a puffin in the rain on a Scottish island. "I wanted to incorporate the raindrops, and the only way I could achieve that was to increase the ISO," she says. "This adds noise, or grain, so when it comes to printing I'd favour textured paper to add depth and hide a bit of the noise." Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens with a Canon Extender EF 1.4x III at 1/640 sec, f/8 and ISO2500. © Carla Regler
A black-and-white portrait-format photograph of a yacht's sails, taken by Carla Regler.
This image of a yacht's sails was taken during a sailing event on the Isle of Wight. "The yacht was close enough to get a shot of the daylight coming through the sails," says Carla. "I cropped the image and converted it to black and white. It's important that blacks come out black, so I printed this on Baryta paper for high contrast and to add a slight gloss effect." Taken on a Canon EOS 6D with a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens at 1/500 sec, f/5 and ISO400. © Carla Regler

4. Work in a clean, dry environment

Keeping printing paper dry and flat is another of Carla's tips for ensuring a professional finish. Damp environments can cause the edges to curl and blacken after printing. "I'd also suggest using soft white gloves when handling the prints, to avoid greasy fingerprints," she says. "Store your prints between sheets of clean, preferably white, tissue, especially if you're stacking them – the last thing you want is to scratch that beautiful print. And they attract dust, so keep tissue on top of them until the prints are ready to frame."

5. Invest in a professional printer

When Carla upgraded to a pro printer, she chose the 12-ink A3+ Canon PIXMA PRO-1. "It's a great printer with superb colour results," she says. "It's important to use a printer that produces prints which are of good quality and complement you as a photographer." This printer is now discontinued and was replaced by the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000, which also uses 12 inks and can produce prints up to A2 in size. Carla recommends the Canon PIXMA PRO-100S professional A3+ printer as an affordable option for those starting out now. "Having a printer allows me to bring an image to life," she adds. "Editing an image, watching it being printed and then being able to hold it in a frame is so rewarding creatively."

A long-exposure shot of a wave crashing, taken by Carla Regler.
Shooting at 1/15 sec allowed Carla to create the illusion of beautiful slow waves, while still conveying a sense of motion. "This style has become very popular in print and is perfect for wall art," she says. "The lens is one of my favourites because the reach means I can fill the frame and not lose too much when it comes to cropping for print." Taken on a Canon EOS 5DS R with a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens at 1/15 sec, f/22 and ISO100. © Carla Regler
A restaurant with large, framed photo prints on display on a wall and on an easel.
Carla got started by displaying her prints in a restaurant, and recommends approaching local shops and cafés, which will often be very happy to decorate their walls with your prints and sell to their customers.

6. Shoot to print

Like many professionals, Carla is an advocate of shooting RAW because it gives her greater scope in post, and suggests using a 1:1, 4:3, 3:2 or 16:9 aspect ratio. She says, "The main factor I consider with my camera is that files are between 20 and 30MP – big enough to print images A2 and larger." From her experience with her gallery space, she found that most of her customers wanted large prints. When printing, Carla crops the image to the required size, ensuring there's room for a border so she can position it under mounts when framing. She carefully inspects the image on screen at 1:1 zoom, checking for sharpness and blemishes such as dust spots, before printing at a resolution of 300ppi. "The more pixels per inch, the finer the detail and the sharper the print will look," she says.

7. Consider your market

"Selling prints is one of the most rewarding paths that a photographer can take, but it requires work, research and careful planning," says Carla. "Check out print prices in local galleries and shops, remembering that most will add a commission. You don't want to put people off because you're a bit too expensive, but don't sell yourself short either – producing a print costs time and money." And she says there's no magic formula for knowing which images to print. "I always think, 'Would I hang that on someone's wall?' If the answer is yes, then I print it. I also look for images with power, colour and depth – those fleeting moments that create a captivating shot."

A panoramic view of Porthleven, Cornwall, with clouds coloured red by a fiery sunset. Photo by Carla Regler.
"This is a stitched panoramic image made up from eight shots of Porthleven, Cornwall, taken using a tripod," Carla explains. "It's important in stitched images that everything lines up – in particular, check the horizon line and the buildings to ensure they are not misaligned. Panoramic images are also great because you can crop other images out of them, for example a square or landscape, and still have a high resolution image." Component images taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM lens at 1.3 sec, f/11 and ISO200. © Carla Regler

8. Promote yourself

You might not be in a position to open a gallery, but Carla advises looking beyond using only a website to display your work. "I was fortunate enough to have wall space in the restaurant, but I also booked a few locations to host exhibitions," she says. "Although this can be expensive and time-consuming, I found it massively beneficial for establishing a name in my area, which in turn led to commissions for hotels, guest houses and private homes."

Don't overlook the power of social media, Carla says. "Running offers through Facebook etc helped me to drum up interest, which more often than not turned into orders," she reveals. But there's nothing more effective than potential customers being able to see the actual product. Reach out to local tourist accommodation, approach shops, cafés and libraries, or take a stall at a craft fair to show your prints. "I've also given a few pieces to local community raffles and so on," Carla says, "which all helps to bring people through the door or to my website."

Skrivet av Natalie Denton


Carla Regler's kitbag

The key kit pros use to create prints

Coastal landscape photographer Carla Regler stands on a beach with a Canon camera on a tripod. Photo by Dave Griffiths.

Cameras

Canon EOS 6D

Canon's smallest, lightest full-frame EOS DSLR – 20.2 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor with in-camera Wi-Fi and GPS.

Lenses

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM

A professional L-series sports and wildlife zoom with Image Stabilizer and ASC coating for superb sharpness. Carla says, "This is one of my favourite lenses because the reach means I can fill the frame with the image and not lose too much when it comes to cropping for print."

Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM

Capture stunning landscapes and architectural images using this compact and lightweight, high-performance, ultra wide-angle zoom lens with f/4 fixed aperture and Image Stabilizer.

Printers

Canon PIXMA PRO-100S

This professional A3+ printer boasts an 8-ink dye-based system for gallery-quality prints you’ll be proud to display or sell, plus Wi-Fi and full cloud connectivity for easy integration with existing workflows.

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