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Marianna Santoni

When did you first understand the importance of color to the photographic process?
When I was a child and I used to watch the black and white pictures of my grandmothers I always wondered what colours their dresses were. Without those colours it was as if a part of their female personality still remained a mystery to me. A red or brown or blue dress would make a huge difference to me. I think it was the very first moment when I realized that colours meant so much to me. Later on another event took me aback. When I was 12 I printed my first photo in the darkroom. But only after a while I realized that, although the negative was black and white, I was seeing it all coloured. Sometimes words and grey shades are not enough. So you need colors.

What is the most important aspect of color management that an aspiring photographer should know?
I think color consistency is the most important aspect of color management. We make so many efforts to get the colors we desire! This is a key for every photographer no matter if they are serious and reliable professionals or super creative artists. Yet, colour consistency is not possible if colour profiles are not managed properly. Many people think that colour management only concerns technicians or printers, but this is wrong. Actually colour management is an issue for everyone...even for those who post their pics on the web. A "monitor-centric" vision of your pictures is completely out of control if displays are not calibrated and you don't manage profiles. Color profiles are probably the most hidden and crucial aspect of a digital imaging workflow: from capture to final output. If you underestimate them, this deficiency will reveal on every final image in the worst and most unexpected ways.
During these 20 years of experience I've understood that one of the differences between a wannabe photographer and a professional lies in their ability to control all the stages of the colour management. It is a real work method that influences the image from the click to the post-production and up to the printing: this is a chain that mustn't be broken. Surprisingly enough, the chain for the colour management is for all, it doesn't extend the workflow and it doesn't need a lot of money.

Can you make an example of how a solid knowledge of color management (or an accurate color environment) helped you – for a project or for professional consultancy? 

Color management is paramount every day in my job. Specially for all those works that need a perfect colour matching, I mean photos of fashion, products, works of art or architecture.
Each photographer knows well that colours deeply change under a different source of light. Unfortunately many do not consider that different cameras, lenses and filters give different colours, the same happens for monitors, printers and papers. How can you focus on the white balance correction only and hope to get the desired colours?

Why are you committed to using X-Rite products?

I always try to offer the best so I have to use instruments that give me the best of it. X-Rite is the world industry leader in colour management solutions. Their products are totally reliable, easy to use and carry and with an excellent price-quality ratio.

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

Each technological development that X-Rite launches on the market will surely enable me to achieve a better result in the shortest possible time... a professional mustn't say no to that!

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 photographic industry is offering products that allow to obtain more and more colours at all levels: from cameras to monitors up to printing technology. Having many colours available is not a big advantage: it is only if you can manage them. So, I do think that colour management will be more and more crucial.

How is color management related to your artistic process?

The main advantage of a workflow with a proper colour management lies in my artistic freedom to use the language of colours with a full control over it.
I'm quite a color control freak and I am very thorough when I have to choose the right colors I want for the lights, style, make-up, hair, props, background and the overall color correction and color management.
Colors influence human emotions, reactions and behaviors and they can really speak louder than words.

Do you see color management as an advantage to save money?

Yes, sure. A proper colour management has never made me lose any single client. I have never had bad surprises even when, in case of works on the other side of the world, it would have been impossible to check the printing personally. And the full control over my chain of colour makes me save time, printing materials and... I never need tranquilizers!!!! :)

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