The Art and the Process

A Blog about Photography

The Printed Image Has Arrived

If you read my post ”The Importance of the Printed Image in the Digital Age” from a few weeks ago, you will know that I have been searching for a professional photographic printing service here in China.

The local print shops can at times produce a decent image, however, it's not at the professional quality I am after and the results are often inconsistent. As a result, I decided to look at several online printing services. The problem I ran into with most of them though was that they weren't very transparent regarding their services. They might say “Epson” and “Fine Art Matte Paper”, but that's pretty vague. Maybe it's my Western mentality and the fact that I have some printing experience, but I like to know what I am getting.

This latest print, seen above, was ordered through 长藏映社. (You can visit their TaoBao shop here). The thing that impresses me most with this printer is their transparency; I know exactly what inks and paper they are using, and I know it's a quality that will last.

Additionally, they were willing to send me paper samples, trimmings actually, for my reference. This may seem like a small thing but the other shops I inquired with all told me, in so many words, “We don't have samples available.”

For this image I went with Hahnemühle's 100% cotton William Turner matte paper. It has a beautifully textured surface that really brings out the natural feeling of this image.

Before I close, I feel it is important to add that I find it at least a little bit ironic to be writing about “the importance of the printed image” and “experiencing the image” while using low quality images of printed photographs to illustrate my point. I would highly recommend ordering a fine-art print for yourself, either something from my portfolio or from your own personal work. If your worried about the logistics or language barrier, I can handle any retouching, printing, mounting and framing to make it as smooth a process as possible. Additionally, you might also consider scheduling a photography session to help record this season of life.

The expat lifestyle tends to be a transient one, and even more so than with most people, you never know what tomorrow might hold.

-Robert Wilson

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
Jeremiah 17:7-8
Phone: +86 159 6497 3922 email:

Inspiration and Education

Link: The art of art museum lighting

When lighting a space, I usually do so as if I was lighting a piece of fine art. One exception to this is if the client wants to show off the natural lighting of the space.

Maybe I am the only person who finds “The art of art museum lighting” an engrossing read, but as a photographer, light is a big deal. Photography in its most basic sense literally means “drawing with light”.

Wikipedia defines it this way:

The word “photography” was created from the Greek roots φωτός (phōtos), genitive of φῶς (phōs), “light” and γραφή (graphé) “representation by means of lines” or “drawing”, together meaning “drawing with light”.

Light is, therefore, an essential element in photography. Additionally, as Hannah Crowell aptly stated in the above article, lighting is not just about visibility but also about perception. ”At its core, lighting design is about controlling what is light and what is dark to help tell a story.”

What is your story?

-Robert Wilson

Phone: +86 159 6497 3922 email:

Problem Solving – Creating a Family Portrait

What to do when everyone can't be present at the same time

This past summer we were back in the States for a few weeks on holiday. We were staying with my family in Colorado, and my wife's parents were going to fly in to see us and the kids. This sounded like the perfect opportunity for an updated family photograph, that was until plans changed. To make a long story short, my wife's parents were not going to be able to visit at the same time. One week my father-in-law would visit and the next week my mother-in-law would visit; there would be no overlap. What could be done? With the circumstances we were faced with, the only solution was a digital montage of some sort.

Just about anything can be done digitally with proper planning and a little bit of experience. I knew I had the skills required, so it really came down to the planning. For this project I had two requirements; that the end result would be believable, and that it could be done in a reasonable amount of time.

The easiest way to accomplish this would be to take two photographs, one with each parent, from the same perspective and with identical lighting. Shooting from the same perspective wouldn't be a problem, just take a few notes and mark the location of the tripod. Natural lighting, on the other hand, isn't quite as predictable; it's quite different than studio lighting. I simply chose a day forecast to have similar weather and planned to shoot at roughly the same time in the evening. I knew it wouldn't be exact, but that it would be a good starting point.

The first photograph was of the whole family except my mother-in-law.

A week later I took the second photograph for the montage with my mother-in-law.

I had my wife and daughter wear the same clothes and, as much as possible with a two year old, sit in the same position. This greatly simplified the montage process and ensured I would have the appropriate shadows and a realistic final product. I chose to keep the background from the original photograph as it definitely provided a more dramatic and pleasing backdrop.

Here is the final combined image.

I would have preferred to photograph everyone at once and probably would have repositioned people for a slightly more pleasing composition. However, given the circumstances and my personal requirements for the project, this definitely proved to be a success.

-Robert Wilson

Phone: +86 159 6497 3922 email:


I took my two daughters to the beach one last time before the water gets too cold for the season. I titled this one “Oceans” after a song by Hillsong United because it reminds me of God's faithfulness in the midst of the storms.

You call me out upon the waters The great unknown where feet may fail And there I find You in the mystery In oceans deep My faith will stand
And I will call upon Your name And keep my eyes above the waves When oceans rise My soul will rest in Your embrace For I am Yours and You are mine
Your grace abounds in deepest waters Your sovereign hand Will be my guide Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me You've never failed and You won't start now
So I will call upon Your name And keep my eyes above the waves When oceans rise My soul will rest in Your embrace For I am Yours and You are mine

Hillsong United – Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)

-Robert Wilson

Phone: +86 159 6497 3922 email:

The Importance of the Printed Image in the Digital Age

We live in the digital age where everything is available on demand at the touch of a button. Food, shopping, music, movies; it's all there how and when we want it. Even our most treasured memories of family, friends and travels are instantly available. The world we live in truly is amazing and I love the convenience of technology.

At the same time though, there is a fleeting impermanence to it all. Sure, my data might be secure on my device (until I lose or break it), or in the cloud (until I run out of space or decide I'm not paying for the service anymore), but are these 1's and 0's really real? Are they tangible? As a professional photographer, this is important to me. I want to be able to hold a photograph, feel the texture of the paper and see how the light interacts with it. I want to be able to take in the whole image, but at the same time step in close to pull out the details. I want to engage my senses in a way that I never will be able to with an image on a digital device.

I have been living overseas with my wife and two daughters for the past five years and so I am going to use Skype as an illustration (if you are an Apple person we could just as easily use FaceTime for the illustration.) My girls, ages 5 and 2, rarely interact with my family over Skype. Even if they are asked a direct question they will hardly even respond (we are working on this). However, when we went to visit my family this past summer, it was a completely different story. They could play, tickle, laugh and cuddle. The relationship was now real and tangible and they had an amazing time together. They built more of a relationship in a couple days than they had in a couple years over Skype. I am not saying I want to do away with Skype, but I would take five minutes in person over 5 hours on Skype any day.

Does anybody remember receiving letters in the mail? Do you have the same feeling when receiving an email? Probably not, because a letter engages the senses. The texture and smell of the paper, the indention and strokes of the pen, the way the letters were written, and even the parts that were smudged or crossed out. It was tangible, it could be held and you could experience it.

For the past month or more I have been searching for a professional printing service. Why? Because I am a professional photographer and I want to be able to experience the image, and not just see it. When I create work for others, I also want them to be able to experience and not just see the image. The printed image matters.

I would even take take it one step farther and say that a high-quality printed image matters. However, this will be for a different discussion.

-Robert Wilson

Phone: +86 159 6497 3922 email: