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How to master black and white printing

Updated: Mar 27

Helen Bartlett is passionate about family photography and shoots entirely in black and white for its timeless appeal. “It’s all about longevity and pictures not just looking good when children are small, but when they’re 20, 40, or 60,” she says. “Black and white takes out the distractions of clothes and it becomes more about people, emotions, relationships, and the story rather than about what they’re wearing.”


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Printed images have always been an integral part of Helen’s work. “At the end of the shoot, I want the family to have something tangible, whether it’s an album or framed prints to go on the wall,” she explains. “Having a physical print is hugely important. I want people to look at the pictures and use them. If I just gave clients a disc, even the most tech-savvy parents would probably just put it in a drawer and forget about it.”

Helen currently has her leather-bound albums and framed and unframed prints made at professional labs, but is keen to explore the process of making her own prints using Canon’s range of professional printers. She was invited to experience one first-hand at Canon’s west London office, with expert guidance from printing specialist Jay Sinclair. Helen brought along a selection of files from which to print and got to work with Jay. Let’s see what she learned. Canon UK’s printing expert Jay Sinclair advised Helen on how to produce great monochrome prints. High-quality, large A2 prints are a great way to showcase your shots and give your clients an impressive physical product. Preparing the perfect black and white photo print Jay started by outlining his steps to a perfect black and white print. First was calibrating the screen, which he did with an X-Rite i1 Pro calibrator. Using the calibrator’s software, he set it to the correct colour temperature to match a Canon printer, which is 5000K (D50). Sometimes, he explained, this means overriding a screen’s default setting. He also chose the option to set the screen’s luminosity to its correct level for printing – between 80 and 120, depending on the display. These steps help to ensure that Helen’s printed photograph would exactly match the image she saw on the screen.