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Christopher John-Ball

Q When did you first understand the importance of color to the photographic process?

Right from the start of my photographic journey - As an arts based photographer I am well aware of the importance of colour within an image and the way in which it can be used to pull in the viewer. Colour management allows me to play with emotion or stimulate the viewer.

Q What is the most important aspect of color management that an aspiring photographer should know?

Simple - use it and ensure that you keep on top of it. Think of Colour Management as your friend. Do not think that Colour Management is something that can be added into your workflow later. If you are starting out now then 'start as you mean to finish'. Make colour management part of your plan right from the start. You will not regret it. And I say this also to photographers who are using monochrome. It is just as important to have a colour management system in place - especially if you want to control the tones or contrast etc within your images. Or you want to add additional tones or split tone.   

Q 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?

As an arts photographer I want control over the prints I make or publications I create. I need to know that what I see on the screen (calibrated, of course) is transmitted accurately onto the print. I want those who collect my work to feel confident in that what I spent ages creating made its way accurately onto their wall.

I also encourage students to understand that an accurate colour environment is essential to their artist progression.

Personally I have, over the year 2014, been scanning, archiving, restoring my entire 30+ year image archive. These consist of colour and monochrome negatives that I wanted to digitally file. I have found that having a controlled colour environment has afforded me the opportunity to 'bring out' details, tones and other qualities from my images that have breathed new life into them. In fact, they are reborn as the images I had 'pre-visualised' when I pressed the shutter all those years back. Colour management via X-Rite products have finally allowed my images to live as I had initially intended.

In addition - I also write and produce theatre pieces. These almost always make use of imagery projected as part of the drama. These images are scenes in themselves and colour management has allowed a more accurate rendition of our intent as writers and producers.


Q Why are you committed to using X-Rite products?

Their ease of use and confidence. Simple really. I feel confident in that the products I use will serve my needs and that they have been tested in the 'real world' of photography by 'real photographers'. I have tried other similar products and found them wanting. I also find X-Rite products have an ergonomic design that appeals to me. They 'handle' well and fit with my way of working and seeing.

I would be lost without the opportunities that X-Rite colour management tools have afforded me.


Q How important are the latest color management tools in today’s industry?  Why?

It is becoming increasingly more important - images are being 'consumed' less 'on the page'  or 'gallery wall' and more 'on the screen' - as image makers we need to offer up the best. But, no matter how hard we try to get it right we are reliant on the viewers screen having been calibrated. I would actually like to see consumers of our images calibrate their screens more often. Colour Management shouldn't just be for the image maker, it needs to be part of the image consumers arsenal. I encourage students to consider Colour Management as a priority.  

Q 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?

The future of the photographic industry - wow, that is a question. Who would have thought that film would have been replaced as quickly as it did by digital as a means of image capture? Though I still use a lot of film, alongside digital, I now have retired my wet darkroom. I never anticipated doing that at all. This does mean that colour management will become even more important than it is now. As stated previously, I would like it to become part of those image consumption.


Q How is color management related to your artistic process?

It is fundamental. Without it I would be hard pressed to carry the emotion I wish my images to convey. Colour management gives me a level of assurance that what I see on the screen will transmit accurately to the print. Just as a writer makes use of grammar etc so must a photographic artist make use of colour management. I need to ensure that the aesthetic judgements I made when making the image have a foundation that can carry that aesthetic outwards onto the screen or the print on the gallery wall.


Q Do you see color management as an advantage for saving money?

Too right. As they say 'time is money' - as I previously stated, I have just spent 2014 archiving, scanning and restoring my entire 30+ year back catalogue. That job would have been so much more time consuming and harder but for having Colour Management planned from the outset. In addition, I am embarking upon a total rebuild of my websites so as to have a more fitting online home for these images. Colour Management has made all of this much easier, faster, more accurately and has saved money.