So why do a couple of landscape photographers want to start doing their own clothing designs?
For us landscape photography is more than just taking pretty pictures it is about telling stories in a socially responsible way. Previously, landscape photographers have been quite limited in the types of mediums they can use to tell stories. Usually, it's been calendars, cards, books, fine art prints, canvas prints and glass.
These are all great mediums for telling stories and they all have one thing in common, they are static, in other words they sit still and for most part remain in the privacy of people's homes or art galleries.
Printing on different coloured background
There is also something else about these mediums that is important, the printing is done on a white or cream background apart from the glass. This is a really important thing to acknowledge, that for all the advances in photographic technology photographs have the most part continue to be printed on white (even images online are viewed against a white background for the most part) and that is something we wanted to change up as well.
In short, some photos that work well with a white background don't look so great printed against a black, blue, yellow, red or pink background. And correspondingly, there are some photos don't look that great against a white background but printed against other colours look amazing. So clothing is the best way to test this out, not to mention give people the chance to compare how a photo looks against different coloured backgrounds.
Taking photography from a static display to telling stories that you can wear
We want to take photos from being something you look at to something you wear. Even photos uploaded by smart phone are just looked at and viewed for a nano-second, before being discarded.
We want landscape photos to be in the public arena and to do this storytelling in the public arena. To tell stories, look nice and help people make statements about where they're from and where they are connected to.
And yes, for the most part we have initially focused on T-shirts, hoodies, and canvas bags. But it is fair to say jeans and dresses are also in our sights for the future.
So how do you turn photos into clothes? First, you take the photos.
Firstly, there is going out and taking the photos. Which to most people seems relatively straightforward but it is actually one of the most involved stages of the entire process.
Planning the photos
A great deal of planning is involved in taking the photos, including identifying locations, visiting and scoping out potential locations, identifying where the light is hitting against solid objects (e.g. land, sea, houses and trees). As well as deciding what time of day would be the best time to take a particular photo.
The lighting is constantly changing throughout the day, not to mention the position of the sun. So there may actually be only 10 to 15 minutes were you can get that shot you want and if the sun just happens to be behind the clouds during that 10 to 15 minutes, you need to come back the next day.
Which just goes to show taking photos is just as much about mathematics in particular geometry as it is having an eye for the beautiful or different.
Sunrise and sunset provide the best lighting
It's also worth mentioning that the early morning and late evening often provides the best times of the day for lighting as the earth is closest to the sun. So it usually involves getting out of bed before sunrise or being out as the sun is setting.
As well, sometimes the best angles for a photo are not in the most comfortable places; it might mean lying down in mud, it could mean going off the track and going into the thick undergrowth in the bush, or it could mean clambering up some rocks.
We don't use preset lighting to touch up our photos
You can use preset lighting ( a preset is set of ‘already made’ adjustments to exposure, contrast, colours, etc. that some photographers add to photos once they are processing them on their computer) to overcome the various issues about lighting and timing but it is not something we choose to do.
Often times, presets can turn extremely dull photos into very vibrant photos that look nothing like the scene the photographer was seeing with their naked eye, in a sense it is creating an image that is not visible to the naked eye.
That is not to say we don't adjust the lighting once we are processing photos but we only tweak them to enhance what was already visible to the naked eye.
Selecting the photos for the clothing
Once we've taken the photos and processed them the second stage of the design process begins. For us it is very important to choose photos that not only look good against a range of different coloured clothing but are also suitable for integration into the clothing as well as telling a story.
Our graphic designer Charlie then works at coming up with designs that integrate the photos into the T-shirts or hoodies (we might make some very broad suggestions to our graphic designer such as integrating the photo into the shirt so as to avoid a square or rectangle being plonked on the shirt, or turning some of our photos into written words, but we try to give her as much creative licence as possible).
Refining those initial ideas until we get it right
Charlie will then work away on some ideas and submit some to us. At this stage there will be some designs that we like and some that we don't like. There will also be some that spark other ideas.
It is then very much the case of exchanging ideas over a period of time to come up with a finalised design. This can and does take several weeks to refine ideas.
Once we are happy with the designs and the stories they tell, we print them onto shirts to see what they look like and see if our ideas will work in real life. It's quite likely that at this stage we will go back to Charlie to make some more amendments having seen the designs on the material for the first time.
Socially Responsible Clothing Suppliers
Then there is the matter of choosing where to get our designs printed.
Our printers use high quality clothing items designed specifically for printing onto clothing. They source their clothing from a socially responsible clothing supplier AS Colour who take a great deal of care over who supplies them and the quality of their product as this quote from their website shows.
"AS Colour’s Code of Conduct forms the principal part of our commitment to social responsibility throughout our supply chain. It guides us in conducting business to the highest standards of business ethics and respect for human rights".
"We require each of our factories to comply with the Code as part of their contracts. In this way we ensure they adhere to standards that meet or exceed internationally acceptable good labour practices found in law, regulations and treaties (especially those from the International Labor Organisation). This helps to set out our expectations for conducting business and is part of our effort to encourage the continual improvement of local standards in all the areas we work".
"All of our factories must agree to external audits, and they are expected to make improvements where standards are not met to ensure ongoing compliance. Should any non-compliance be found, AS Colour required proof of compliance within a reasonable timeframe in order to continue working with the supplier."
We use two New Zealand based clothing printers Print Mighty and DigiTee. On the links you can check out their processes they use to print onto the clothing and if you scroll down their webpages you can find out how it might cost of you wanted to print some of your own design (for t-shirts the pricing starts at $27.50 and for hoodies $47.50).
Both have similar pricing structures but there are swings and roundabouts with the pricing of each business. For instance one business offers free shipping for orders over $100.00 but they charge slightly more for their t-shirts and printing. So in our pricing we've averaged out the cost.
And we do charge for shipping and handling because each order we get, we need to manually upload each design to our print partners and make one off changes for customers. When we say we print to order, we mean it!
What's really important to us. Standing out from the crowd, telling a story while being ethically and socially responsible!
For us it is really important that our clothing stands out from the crowd, helps the people wearing the clothes to tell a story or make a statement about where they're from and what's important to them, as well as looking good in a ethical way.