FASHION

Wanda Martin: the art of printing

Hungarian fashion and portrait photographer Wanda Martin talks about the process behind setting up her first solo exhibition and reveals how she used three different Canon printers to showcase the contrasting aspects of her work.
Four portraits on a gallery wall. The one closest to the camera shows an androgynous person wearing heavy make-up and laughing.

The main images for Wanda Martin's first solo exhibition were drawn from her professional portrait and fashion work. They measured 1m x 1.5m and were printed on a Canon Colorado 1640 and mounted on PVC boards. © Wanda Martin

When Canon Ambassador Wanda Martin was offered the opportunity to stage her first major solo exhibition at the historic Deák Palace in the centre of Budapest, Hungary, she decided to combine a range of her professional commissions and personal projects.

Her eventual selection included commercial work for high-profile clients such as Marc Jacobs and Vogue Italia, as well as a series of deeply personal self-portraits. To give these very different aspects of her work a distinctive identity, Wanda chose to use three different Canon printers: the Canon Colorado 1640, the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300 and the Canon PIXMA TS5350 Series.

"I'm mainly known as a fashion and portrait photographer, but my background is actually conceptual and art photography," Wanda explains. "During the last two years, I've had more time to revisit my roots and go back to my personal projects, and now I've developed a body of work that I felt ready to show to the public."

A wilting rose on the title page of a book taken from above with a fisheye lens next to a second page with a handwritten note on it.

Wanda's exhibition was entitled Songs of Innocence and Experience, inspired by poet William Blake's seminal collection, and featured more than 30 images including a selection of intimate collages divided into two volumes. © Wanda Martin

A close-up of two young people, one with red hair, one with short brown hair, with their noses almost touching.

Wanda shoots most of her work on zoom lenses, such as this image from her widely acclaimed Lovers project. "Zooms give you freedom and you can focus more on the movements and facial expressions of your subjects instead of being worried about changing lenses," she says. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark II (now succeeded by the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV) with a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens (now succeeded by the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM) at 88mm, 1/125 sec, f/4 and ISO3200. © Wanda Martin

A wide-ranging celebration of femininity

Songs of Innocence and Experience, which opened in December 2021, focused on the themes of love, femininity, sexuality and belonging and was divided into three parts: large-scale prints of Wanda's professional images, smaller prints of photos taken for her Lovers series, and images from her self-portrait/collage project made in 2020.

"The main thing was for me to show and celebrate different aspects of femininity," continues Wanda. "I wanted to choose images that showed more than just a pretty girl in a pretty dress. I wanted to show strong, innocent, experienced, brave, young, old, pregnant, masculine women, and interesting characters that allow the viewer to imagine their stories. The fashion industry is changing: flaws are beautiful, and real people can become models. This is how my fashion and portraiture work merge into one."

Wanda shot many of her images for the exhibition on her Canon EOS R6 and Canon EOS-1D X Mark III, both of which produced the kind of sharp, outstanding-quality image files needed for large prints. The exhibition space was relatively limited in size but there was enough room for 12 large-scale prints, eight smaller images measuring 100cm x 70cm and a selection of self-portraits in a separate smaller room.

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Four portraits mounted on a gallery wall behind a large image on a freestanding board.

Some of Wanda's large-scale prints were wall-mounted, while others were displayed on freestanding boards in the exhibition space. "Having them exhibited in a large size was especially important," says Wanda. "Some of these images had already been published in magazines or on my Instagram, but never at a big size." © Wanda Martin

Large-scale prints

For the section showing her professional portrait and fashion photography, Wanda chose to display prints measuring 1m x 1.5m. "I have a painterly aesthetic in my work – it's usually a mixture of romantic beauty, historical references and rock 'n' roll attitude or unusual beauty," says Wanda. "I wanted to exhibit these images in very large scale to remind us of paintings by the Old Masters."

These images were printed on a Canon Colorado 1640, a roll-to-roll 64-inch printer that incorporates Canon's advanced UVgel technology. "The printer's wide colour gamut and the durability of the UVgel ink were really important factors – especially the colours, as I think one of the most important elements of my photography is how I play with and capture colours," says Wanda.

"Although the images had already been shown online, the people who saw them were surprised at how different they looked when printed at a large size. They were like, 'Now we get it!'"

Wanda also used the same printer for the 100cm x 70cm prints of images from her Lovers project, a series of photographs which celebrate the diversity of love by showing real couples in their personal environment. All the images were already retouched and edited, and most were saved as TIFF files. So, after deciding on the final image size, Wanda simply had to resize them before printing.

A selection of self-portraits and collages printed out and displayed on a large board.

A selection of Wanda's self-portrait collages were on display in a room off the main hall during her exhibition. © Wanda Martin

Self-portraits and collages

Wanda began her self-portrait project during the first Covid-19 lockdown. It was prompted by an inspirational video she made for Canon Europe, titled Keep on Creating, in which she shared tips on shooting portraiture, self-portraits and still-life images at home. After making the video, Wanda herself started taking hundreds of self-portraits.

Her photographic style is partly influenced by 19th-century artists including Rossetti, Millais and Vermeer. "I found myself in front of my camera, recreating famous paintings of women dying of heartache," she says. "I was going through a break-up at the time and it became my art therapy."

Wanda shot images of herself, using the Canon Camera Connect app, which enabled her to control her camera via her smartphone. She printed these images on the two printers she has at home: the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300 and the Canon PIXMA TS5350. These prints were combined with fragments of texts from ex-boyfriends or Tinder dates, together with scanned sections of her favourite 18th and 19th-century books such as Wuthering Heights and The Sorrows of Young Werther. In this way, she juxtaposed her real-life experiences with notions of idealised love.

"This self-portrait project was all about experimentation, trying out different settings, playing around with different sized images for the collages, on different kinds of papers, that I could even paint on or glue flowers to," she says. "I love the amazing, professional image quality of the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300, the wide colour gamut, the details in the shadows and highlights, and how accurately it prints the colours I set on the computer," she says.

A black-and-white image shot with a fisheye lens of Canon Ambassador Wanda Martin looking down at the camera, her long hair falling around her shoulders.

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"However, what I love about the Canon PIXMA TS5350 is that even though it can produce great quality prints, I could also sometimes use a lower quality setting. I did this to reduce the perfect quality of the images shot on my Canon cameras to create a noisier, more faded analogue appearance."

A photograph of Wanda Martin has been digitally added to an image of an open book with four large, pressed flowers scattered across the pages.

Wanda's self-portrait collages mix photos, texts and other elements including dried flowers. "I liked the idea of that mixed technique, as it reflects the clash of old, historic references and modern elements," she says. © Wanda Martin

Two different photographs of Wanda Martin taken with a fisheye lens sit side by side. Beneath the image on the right is a handwritten note.

Several of the self-portraits in Wanda's exhibition were taken with the Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM lens. "When I was working on this self-portrait project during lockdown and we were all at home between the four walls, the round image of a fisheye lens just felt like the right choice, resonating with us being locked in," she says. © Wanda Martin

For the collage images made on the imagePROGRAF PRO-300, Wanda used Canon's professional papers such as Pro Luster, Pro Premium Matte and Premium Fine Art Smooth. "I especially like the luster and semi-gloss papers because it gives a mild shimmering to my images and the colours appear rich and full of life," she says.

Wanda used Canon's free Professional Print and Layout software, which works with other image editing software such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom. After soft proofing the images to preview how they would look on a particular type of paper, she then selected the correct ICC paper profile and made other final adjustments prior to output.

When printing with the PIXMA TS5350, Wanda experimented with various different media, including old newspapers, paper she had poured coffee or tea on, and pages from books or old notebooks. They were then layered and glued together to create a deconstructed effect. The resulting collages were then scanned to make new images and printed for the exhibition on the Canon Colorado 1640.

Fashion photographer Wanda Martin smiles at a guest during the opening of her exhibition in Budapest.

Such was the impact of her printed images, both large and small, that even visitors to the exhibition familiar with Wanda's work said they felt like they were seeing them for the first time. Thrilled by this response, Wanda (pictured right) now hopes to bring Songs of Innocence and Experience to London and Paris. © Wanda Martin

Printing and exhibition advice

One of the main things Wanda has learned from her exhibition is the value of displaying physical prints of her images, and she advises others to do the same. "When getting your pictures printed professionally by a lab, try to be present throughout the whole process, so you can see the proofs and give feedback," she says. "If you're printing your images, it's great to experiment with different settings and try out different papers to see which best fit your images or the project. It's also good to try out different colour profiles."

And for anyone planning to stage an exhibition, she adds, "Putting an exhibition together is much harder work than I would have thought. Remember that it takes a lot of time to prepare everything, from putting the concept together to selecting the final images, printing and the installation process. And don't leave everything to the last minute, like I always do!"

*Adobe, Lightroom and Photoshop are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe in the United States and/or other countries.

Autor: David Clark


Wanda Martin's kitbag

The key kit that the pros use to take their photographs

Wanda Martin's kitbag containing Canon cameras, lenses and a Speedlite.

Cameras

Canon EOS-1D X Mark III

The ultimate creative toolkit with superb low-light performance, deep learning AF and 5.5K RAW video. "I've used my Canon EOS-1D X Mark III for a while as my main camera for my commercial work," says Wanda. "It always helps me shooting even in low-light conditions, I can shoot even ISO6400 and still get outstanding image quality."

Canon EOS R6

The radical EOS R6 features technology that will have you falling in love with photography all over again. Wanda says: "The EOS R6 is my second camera – it's very light and there are scenarios when it definitely comes in handy that it can shoot silently, too."

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

A predecessor to the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, this versatile and rugged camera is capable of beautiful images in any situation. "I've had it for many years now and we've had lots of adventures together," says Wanda. "Today I usually have it in my kitbag as a backup camera, just in case."

Lenses

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

The go-to zoom lens of many professional photographers, the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM provides outstanding image quality and a fast f/2.8 aperture throughout its zoom range. "I like working fast and dynamism is a key word for me," says Wanda. "That's why I prefer using zoom lenses like this one, because it gives me more space to be spontaneous."

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM

The EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM is a standard zoom lens that goes just that little bit further. "I love the versatility that a zoom lens can offer," says Wanda. "You can focus more on movements and facial expressions instead of being worried about changing lenses all the time."

Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM

A versatile fisheye zoom lens offering a choice of full frame or circular image. The EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM is part of Canon's high performance L-series lenses and delivers fantastic image quality, even with such a wide angle view.

Accessories

Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R

The standard mount adapter allows EF-S and EF lenses to be used on EOS R cameras seamlessly. Photographers who already have a collection of EF-S or EF optics can invest in the EOS R System confidently, knowing their existing lenses will work as expected.

Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300

A beautifully compact professional A3+ printer that has all the qualities of the imagePROGRAF PRO range, rewarding you with rich, vibrant and exquisite gallery-quality prints every time.

Canon PIXMA TS5350 Series

With snappy connectivity from palm to print, this chic and sleek 3-in-1 multifunctional is the ideal tool for crafts and creations – and the perfect print partner for your smartphone.

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