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Technique

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Pretty in print:
new dimensions
in weddings

June 2016

Jay Dhillon takes wedding photography to another level with his glamorous images and stylish portraits. CPN writer Mark Alexander finds out how Canon’s legendary EOS-1D X and superb new imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 printer have helped him present his work in stunning detail...

Jay Dhillon is a wedding photographer with an eye for detail, and the extravagant. His elegant images are bold, colourful and full of flair, and much sought after in the Asian wedding market. In one of the most crowded photographic sectors, Dhillon has carved out his own brand of eye-catching imagery and a business to go with it.

© Jay Dhillon
© Jay Dhillon

Engagement portrait with a fashionable edge. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X with an EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens at 40mm; the exposure was 1/250sec at f/5.6, ISO 640.

“I mainly do Asian wedding photography, which is technically a niche area,” he says. “The networks are quite small so if you do one sibling’s wedding, you end up doing the whole family and that’s how my business started to grow.”

Dhillon’s flourishing business means his weekends are booked solid as he captures the glamour of wonderfully vibrant wedding days with his unique take on a well-worn format. In fact, the 28-year-old photographer has strong views about the wedding market, which he says has been falling short of the mark in recent years.

“I always found wedding photography to be quite cheesy. Before I got into it, my impression of wedding photographers was the same old, same old,” he says. “A lot of my brides buy outfits and jewellery based upon what they see in films and magazines, so my inspiration comes from fashion. I felt wedding photographers weren’t doing them justice.”

He continues: “I want my brides to feel like models. Everyone you see in my portfolio is a real-life person. They aren’t models I’ve brought in. So I have learned how to light and how to pose to mimic the shots the brides would have seen when they were doing their research for their wedding, rather than creating a wedding version of it.”

© Jay Dhillon
© Jay Dhillon

Shooting on location requires careful thought to backgrounds, so they compliment the subject. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X with an EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM at 70mm; the exposure was 1/500sec at f/5.6, ISO 100.

This shift in emphasis has brought accolades from the likes of the Society of Wedding & Portrait Photographers and the Wedding Photography Association which, when coupled with his emphasis on Hindu, Muslim and Sikh weddings, has created a growing reputation in a lucrative market.

Despite his success, Dhillon admits he first got into photography out of necessity rather than design. “I was 23 at the time and the job market was really bad so I thought if you can’t find a job; make one. I thought I would see how photography would work out and it’s been pretty good.”

His determination has certainly paid off. Today, brides-to-be crave the Jay Dhillon look, which shows a clear bias towards fashion and glamour. The process often starts with an engagement shoot from which framed images are created and displayed at the wedding itself. “That’s where I’m using the printer a lot and where I’m increasing my revenue stream.”

The power of print

Initially Dhillon acquired a Canon PIXMA PRO-1; not for his clients but to produce competition prints. With 12 ink cartridges, including five blacks, the PRO-1 gave him the potential to produce high-quality prints ready for the cut and thrust of competition. However, increasingly he has been using his in-house printing capabilities to satisfy his clients as well as the judging panel. “If it’s good enough for a judge, it’s good enough for a client,” he says.

He continues: “I learned a lot about photography through printing, and now I’m using my printer for my clients as well as my competition prints. My clients prefer fine-art prints rather than a canvas. With a framed print, I know they can’t get that anywhere else. I have one frame that I sell in two different sizes. Because I buy in bulk, I get the frames at a really good price and they look amazing.”

As well as defining his ‘look’, Dhillon found that taking charge of the printing process also had its advantages. “I never used to do my own printing, for my clients or for competitions,” he explains. “I had to go to a printer, sit there all day or wait for them to send me the prints. It wasn’t exactly how I wanted to work - you know, as photographers; we’re quite anal about our images. I was going back and forth with printers and I thought why don’t I just invest in one.”

© Jay Dhillon
© Jay Dhillon

Jay’s desktop area features the imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 which is at the heart of his workflow.

So he did, and has never looked back: “It took me a little while to get used to it,” he says. “Printers are a bit of a bore to set up with calibration, alignment and getting the colour right. But once I had done that, it was pretty straightforward. I knew that what I was shooting, I could reproduce in print.”

Dhillon was able to experiment with different paper types to get the best possible results, all from the comfort of his own studio. It was a revelation not only for his workflow but also for his business. “I’ve gone back to basics with mounted and framed fine-art prints, and my clients can see the difference. My revenue stream started to increase because they could see there was a clear colour, sharpness and quality difference in terms of what they are getting with the frame, the mounting and the paper. I was able to charge a lot more than I did for canvasses. And the fact that I can do it all in house has made it a lot easier for me.”

© Jay Dhillon
© Jay Dhillon

Dramatic wedding portrait. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X with an EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM at 47mm; the exposure was 1/250sec at f/4.5, ISO 320.

To take his business to the next level, Dhillon recently took delivery of Canon’s imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 A2 desktop printer with a new LUCIA PRO 12-ink system. It features a newly-developed LUCIA PRO inks which achieve higher levels of colour with a broader colour gamut and more detail. From 4x6in up to A2, the PRO-1000 produces prints with greater detail in darker areas and the kind of dynamic range ideally suited to the kind stylistic photography for which Dhillon has become renowned.

But that’s not the first thing that caught his eye. “The PRO-1000 was far easier to set up than my previous printer. It pretty much did everything itself,” he says. “I downloaded all the paper profiles and was able to get it going straight away. With my first printer, it took me about three hours to get it set up. This one did it all itself. It printed out an alignment document and that was it. It was pretty much plug and play.”

He is also a fan of the user-friendly colour display through which he can check job queues and ink levels, not that he’s had to do much of that since he got the printer a fortnight ago thanks to the PRO-1000’s large-capacity 80ml ink tanks. “The bigger ink tanks allow me to print more without having to constantly buy cartridges. They are massive compared to the old one.”

Bigger is better

For Dhillon, the most compelling feature of the PRO-1000 was the ability to print striking, borderless images up to A2. “The biggest factor for me was the PRO-1000 printed edge-to-edge,” he says plainly. “I was wasting a lot of A3 sheets printing A4 pictures. On a fine art 12in sheet of paper, I was only able to print 10.5in. If I wanted a bigger image I would have to print it on an A3 sheet and then waste half of it. I haven’t gone up to A2 yet, but now I know I can.”

© Jay Dhillon
© Jay Dhillon

An intimate bridal portrait with subtle, lighting. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X with an EF85mm f/1.2L II USM lens; the exposure was 1/250sec at f/3.2, ISO 1250.

And then there’s the wireless and Cloud connectivity. Images can be sent to the PRO-1000 via a PC or laptop’s WiFi connection or in the case of PictBridge-compatible devices, directly from the camera. “The WiFi feature is amazing,” says Dhillon enthusiastically. “I don’t have to sit right next to it or run a cable into it. I work off a laptop and can sit anywhere in the office and print something out. I timed it and it printed a full A3 print in four minutes and 50 seconds, and the quality was amazing. I’m not mass-producing my prints, I just want the best.”

Dhillon has created a style all of his own. His images reflect the colour and spectacle of the weddings he attends. In a creative sense, he has become an innovative storyteller with an identifiable, coveted look. And in a commercial sense, he has used his passion for print to expand his business and augment his revenue stream. And that has been helped in no small measure by his two wedding workhorses: the EOS-1D X and the imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 printer.

He affirms: “The thing about Canon is that it makes it very obvious when it's made a good product because it puts a red key-line around it. This printer is like Canon’s L-series lenses – it’s just superior in every way.”

image PROGRAF PRO-1000 – KEY FEATURES

  • Exceptional quality A2 prints in approximately 6 minutes
  • 3.0” display for at-a–glance printing and supplies status
  • High-speed USB 2.0, WiFi, Cloud and Ethernet connectivity
  • LUCIA PRO pigment inks for exceptional colour reproduction and longevity
  • Canon Digital Lens Optimiser for optimum print image quality
  • Contrast Reproduction technology for finer detail in prints
  • Print Studio Pro plugin for seamless printing straight from Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop (including PS Elements) and Canon Digital Photo Professional
  • Exclusive MBk and PBk nozzles prevent wasting of ink and time needed switching black inks in other printers
  • Large capacity ink tanks reduce the frequency of ink changes

Biographie: Jay Dhillon

Jay Dhillon

Jay Dhillon is an Indian photographer who specializes in Hindu, Muslim and Sikh ceremonies. He adopts a photojournalist, contemporary, documentary and fashion style of photography to capture colourful wedding days. Based in London, Dhillon has a number of awards to his name including several accolades from the Wedding Photography Association and Society of Wedding & Portrait Photographers print competitions.



Vitrine

An intimate pre-wedding moment. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X with an EF100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens; the exposure was 1/200sec at f/3.5, ISO 640.