"My printer gives me an edge"

Action sports photographer Richard Walch explains how printing his photography benefits his business.
A print of a skier dwarfed by the vast, sheer mountain he is skiing down. Photo by Richard Walch.

Canon Ambassador Richard Walch produces his own custom photo prints on his Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 printer and uses them to build relationships with clients and create business opportunities. © Richard Walch

As a teenager, Richard Walch dreamed of travelling the world as a professional snowboarder. While that didn't happen, he instead managed to combine his two main passions to become a winter sports and advertising photographer, working for clients including Red Bull, Apple, Audi and BMW, and winning multiple awards. Creating his own custom photo prints is a key part of his business, as it enables him to stand out from the crowd and can serve as a unique calling card in retaining clients and attracting new business.

Despite developing a faithful customer base over the years, he feels that building and retaining good client relationships has become more of a challenge since the pandemic reduced face-to-face meetings. He also says, "Photographers, like everyone else, are now competing for a slice of a much smaller cake, but my Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 printer gives me an edge.

"When I do a shoot for a client, I like to create a beautiful print, frame it and hand it over as a gift. Selling prints isn't part of my business portfolio but giving a handmade, large-format print as a present adds a personal touch. It's a way of saying, 'Thank you for the job, I've really enjoyed working with you'. It's a great help in building a close relationship and retaining business. If I give the client a new print after each job, they'll start to build their own private collection to treasure."

Richard's investment in his client relationships continues well after the initial job is complete. "When somebody leaves a company that I've been working for, and they move on to the next, I'll call them up and say, 'Hey, it was really nice to work with you. Why don't you pick a picture that you like, and I'll print it for you as a thank you?'

"That's been very successful because it's a nice gesture, and a little reminder for them that maybe in the next job they could call you up again. You usually get commissioned for jobs by people you know. It's all about relationships. It's just a natural process in advertising photography."

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A photo print of a snowy mountain emerges from a Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 printer.

Richard's trusty Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 produces another amazing print. It has been an investment that he says continues to deliver benefits.

Printing at scale with the PRO-1000

Richard started printing his work in 2016, as an early adopter of the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 – the printer he still uses for all his work. For him, the biggest draw is the printer's large A2 print size.

"You need to be able to print bigger images if you're planning on doing it to a professional level, because they're more desirable. They give you a better return on investment," he explains.

The printer's ease of use is also a primary factor in Richard's dedication to the PRO-1000. "It works without needing to connect (via cable) to the computer, which makes things simple," he says. "You can't focus on making unique work if you make things needlessly complicated."

Uniqueness and exceptional quality of printing are what Richard aims for when creating items for clients. He admits that he could pay a photo lab to print his work, and respects that the products they sell are of good quality. But he believes that the personal touch of his personally-made prints leaves a far longer-lasting impression.

"The labs are brilliant. They have multiple frame options, they're quick and affordable, all of that," he concedes. "But when you unwrap one of their prints, you understand that it's an industrial product. It's not handmade. There's a market for that, but it's not what I'm looking for."

''Canon Europe Product Marketing Lead Suhaib Hussain recommends the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 and PRO-300 for creating professional-quality photo prints. "The pigment-based inks of these printers give superb quality, especially on matte and fine art papers, with extended gamut and tonal range, as well as superior black and white photo performance. The technology is essentially the same in both printers but the imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 is capable of larger A2+ prints and is more cost-effective for higher-volume printing. The imagePROGRAF PRO-300 is more compact but can still create A3+ prints and the black density is even a little better."

For getting the best out of these printers, Suhaib suggests using Canon's free Professional Print & Layout (PPL) software. "It works as a standalone program and as a plug-in for Canon Digital Photo Professional, as well as with Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom Classic," he says. "It covers all of your printing workflow needs, from colour management to ICC profiles for wide-ranging photo papers and fine art media from Canon and other high-end manufacturers such as Canson® and Hahnemühle.

"PPL also makes short work of creating custom layouts, from full-bleed prints to arranging multiple images on a single page," he adds. "Built-in tools for soft and hard proofing ensure accuracy, and there's an option to create 'pattern prints', so you can tailor the look and feel of the final print to evoke a specific mood."

Cloud-based service adds ease and security to the capture-to-print workflow, enabling you to seamlessly upload images from your camera and store them in the cloud. A monthly subscription gives you access to the Cloud RAW image processing service, which uses neural network technology, or AI-powered imaging processing, to perfect your files for printing – all with the security of end-to-end encryption.

"With Canon's range of supporting software, I can create what looks almost like an HDR print that shows a lot more detail," says Richard. "It just does its magic, so that I can quickly and easily make a photo look its best on my choice of paper."

A Canon printer printing out a black and white portrait of an older man.

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A photo print resting on a box of fine art printer papers.

Richard keeps a variety of different papers on hand and experiments to find the best for each print's requirements.

Play with paper

When making high-class prints for any occasion, whether to sell or to give away as gifts to clients, the thing that truly sets your work apart from the crowd is how you present it. Richard recommends exploring how you can use different elements to transform your work into a genuine piece of art.

"It's really up to you to find out where it can take you," he says. "For example, the standard ambition is to make a big, glossy, shiny image. But for me, I find it much more appealing to use papers that offer something different – perhaps a more matte finish, for example."

"There's a huge variety of paper, but you need to experiment to find out what works best for you and for your photography. You can start this journey and really personalise things in a way that you're happy with, and create something that's really unique," says Richard. "Then you can mount it and frame it, and it becomes a truly unique work of art." And who can resist that? .

Shot from above, a BMX rider performs a stunt on a circular patio surrounded by hedging. Taken by Richard Walch on a Canon EOS R5.

Not all of Richard's captivating shots are taken in exotic, far-flung locations. This image of a BMX rider, gifted as a print, was shot closer to home, at a BMX school in Berlin, Germany. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R and a Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM lens at 20mm, 1/200 sec, f/5.6 and ISO 320. © Richard Walch

Competitors in a horse race gallop towards the camera on a snow-covered track in an image taken by Richard Walch on a Canon EOS R3.

Horse racing on ice is a typically high-adrenaline sport that fits right in with Richard's core business. The fast frame rate and tenacious autofocus tracking abilities of his EOS R3 ensure that Richard never misses a definitive moment. Taken on a Canon EOS R3 with a Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R and a Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS III USM lens at 1/5000 sec, f/5 and ISO 640. © Richard Walch

Making a photography business plan

A key part of making a photography business plan is identifying your USP (unique selling point) and marketing strategies, and how these will help you stand out from the competition.

Richard explains that finding a niche in snowboarding photography has helped his business to develop, with contacts and jobs in the field leading to related commissions. It's vital to advertise yourself and keep pitching for work, he says, but to remember that a success rate of one in 10 is above average when pitching. He prides himself in fulfilling client briefs "to the letter" but then throwing in additional creative ideas on top, which he puts together in his own time and then offers as extra options to complement the main brief. These additional shots, and the photo prints that he creates, all feed in to the client relationships and marketing of his business.

 A stack of framed prints next to Richard Walch's Canon printer.

The finished product, framed by Richard himself, ready to be shipped out to the fortunate recipient.

A less glamorous, but crucial, element of a photography business plan is to work out the costs, including for taxes and equipment. "Not factoring tax into the equation kills many photography businesses. People often think, 'Wow, I've made this much money so I can go out and buy stuff', but then the tax bill comes along after a year or two. It pays to take advice from the start, researching the financial side online and using free advice from government agencies and business coaches. It's a bit like the boring homework side of things but essential for building a solid business. It's also important to have a strategy about buying equipment. You'll probably find that camera bodies will last for four or five years, and lenses for around 10 years. You have to separate the two areas and slowly grow as you go along."

Getting started in printing for yourself can be exciting and daunting, whether you plan to use your printer to create gifts for valued clients or produce prints to sell. For Richard, printing has been very fulfilling, enhancing his business prospects and his photographic career.

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

Oliver Cuenca and Matthew Richards

Richard Walch's kitbag

The key kit pros use to take their photographs

A Canon DSLR with a Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM lens on a desk alongside three other Canon lenses.


Canon EOS R3

A mirrorless camera that is ideal for sport, wildlife and news photography, the Canon EOS R3 captures fleeting moments at 30fps, revealing details missed by the naked eye.

Canon EOS R5

With revolutionary video performance, this hybrid mirrorless camera can capture sensational 45MP photos at up to 20fps, or cinematic 12 bit 8K RAW video at the flick of a switch.

Canon EOS-1D X Mark III

Canon's flagship DSLR, successor to the EOS-1D X Mark II Richard uses most. "This camera is totally designed for speed and toughness with no compromise," enthuses Richard. "That's exactly my kind of photography, so what a perfect match!"



Canon Control Ring Mount Adapter EF-EOS R

Allowing you to take full advantage of the EOS system, this adapter allows EF-S and EF lenses to be used on EOS R cameras seamlessly, opening up a whole new world of creative opportunity.

Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000

Print in stunning quality with this A2 desktop printer, which offers high levels of colour and detail. An advanced 12-ink system faithfully brings your pictures to life. "If you want to seriously get into print, don't settle for something small," advises Richard. "No matter what you're doing with your prints, you'll eventually need a printer that can create bigger images."

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