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Ratko Asanović

When did you first understand the importance of color to the photographic process?
The first time I was aware of importance of color to the photographic process was the first time when I wanted to print out my photographs and designs in print shop. At the time I knew about color management and my devices were calibrated and profiled but there was a problem out of my control. At the print shop they didn't had any profiles of their equipment and they relied on their experience and devices out of the box. What a mistake that was. I have ended up with prints I didn't liked which resulted as a consequence of me calibrating and profiling their devices and made me more committed in future about color management and accurate color reproduction which is my call now.

What is the most important aspect of color management that an aspiring photographer should know?
To me this would be like a holly trinity of color management: accuracy, predictability and money/time saving. So for any aspiring photographer accuracy in print reproduction is a must if they want to excel above mediocreness. Predictability also is vital. During the post production in various stages of work you would like to know how your piece of art would look like as a final product e.g. print so you can repeat that process again. And also as one of the very important factors in work you will want to save as much as you can on time, consumables, etc. and not wasting money. Meaning with right color management equipment and software it will speed up the workflow and give you more time to do more job in less time. Also it will save out lot of money in guessing how your equipment would work without color management to get "acceptable" result. And guessing game is far from accurate one and it does cost a lot.

Give an example of the ways in which a solid knowledge of color management (or an accurate color environment) helped you – on a project? In a consultancy situation?
Well I can say that this case was the most challenging in my professional career. We were working for one big national company where we should print scarfs for uniforms with specifically required colors. I got all color coordinates in Lab and LCh values with used standard (Illuminant and observer angle - in this case was D65/10° )for measuring and getting those results from a substrate. It was a two solid color job that should be printed digitally on machine that have installed Mimaki Tx2 plotter with 8 ink tanks per 8 printing heads with Ciba inks used. Machine itself had paste precoat system and inks were fixated with streamer - dye sublimation. Problem was that requested colors were quite off the gamut for that media profile meaning that type of inks, media and printer couldn't reproduce requested colors. Media used was satin silk weighting 80gr/m2. I have examined profile with Profile Editor and decided to reprofile again and result was not any better. Still colors were out of the gamut. So what I have decided is to try with specifically ordered spot colors where I have reprofiled fabric again with new spot color inks and changed ink densities in RIP so I got color reproduction within required ∆E tolerance.

How long have you been associated with X-Rite?
I have been associated with X-Rite in terms of using X-Rite equipment back from the end of 2005.5.

Why are you committed to using X-Rite products?
My commitment for using X-Rite products is because when I got more deeper in color management I have started using GretagMacbeth devices. Since the acquisition of GretagMacbeth and Pantone by X-Rite I think that X-Rite as a company have complete solution for any industry and any situation in color management. Also great thing about X-Rite products is that they are very straightforward and easy to use and it doesn't requires too much time to learn using X-Rite devices and software which is great thing in terms of production since more effective time will be devoted to accurate production itself.

How important are the latest color management tools in today’s industry? Why?
They are very important if not critical. Because color itself is subjective and we need to translate it in the world of objective things so everyone could understand it the same. Latest color management tools and solutions provides us to see, talk and translate color objectively. That objective aspect of color management is quite critical because industry is quite demanding and if you want to stay on top of the things sure you’ll have to improve the ways you work. On a side note Coca Cola wants their red to be the same on variety of media. Without color management that task is no go.

What does the (near) future hold for the photo industry, in your opinion? Do you think color management will be more or less important – why?
We are all witnessing that last two decades of photography and printing digital are at its full expansion. Development and breakthrough of new digital technologies almost hits us every day with some new digital device. So from this point of view my opinion is that color management will be a lot more important. There are so many devices in the market from various manufacturers and they are still coming out but the most common problem in terms of color management is that they all behaving differently. Each device have its own behavior. So color management devices and solutions will put them up under "one roof" and make them to serve more in our advantage. So yes, most definitely color management will be a lot more important and present in our everyday work. Smartphones and tablets are great example of that. Before 2007 which you can say was quite near we had no real smartphone device until Apple has launched the iPhone. And now depending how you are communicating with your clients you can even profile the smartphone and tablet display. Why that might be important is if you are professional photographer and for example you are shooting a wedding. You are transferring wirelessly your images to your tablet which you can guess display of the tablet is calibrated so you can show your photos on spot in the full glory to your clients. Or if you are fashion designer for example and on a go you want to show cross-reference Pantone colors to your client on your smartphone. This is just one tiny example since color management industry is far beyond that but I took it as an example because mobile devices are the most spreaded/used devices around.

How is color management related to your artistic process?
Well since my main background is design, print and photography color management is related to my artistic process by using X-Rite spectrophotometers and measuring colors from any surfaces and using them in my designs and most importantly to accurately translate my artwork to the final destination e.g. printer and get hard copy of my artwork as I have intended in its full quality. Socolor management gives me a touch of perfectionism that I want to achieve.

Do you see color management as an advantage for saving money?
Yes, yes and absolutely yes! To better illustrate this I would say if there was no color management on first place I would be looking at inaccurately displayed colors on my monitor which would result in bad editing of the files. Then real nightmare would start when I would send such file to the printer and see mess out of the print. So in trying to get ONE print I want I would waste so many papers and ink to get "decent" print and that "experimenting" would be only valid for that file. And where are the other files... more experimenting? And just imagine if you are using some expensive fine art canvas papers and expensive inks how hard that would hit your budget. In conclusion, color management as I have already stated above gives us accuracy, predictability and money/time saving in our work every time we employ it and personally I find it unreplaceable ally in my workflow.