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Albert Watson considers the art of printmaking—and HP Designjet printers—integral to his work


“A print needs to feel like what’s on the screen. HP printers are brilliant at doing that interpretation for you.”

— Albert Watson
Fine art photographer

Originally trained as a graphic designer and filmmaker, Albert Watson didn’t find his true calling until he received a simple fixed-lens camera for his 21st birthday. “As I unwrapped it, it was like a bolt of lightning came out of the sky,” says Watson. “I never put the camera down.”

Quick facts

  • World-renowned photographer Albert Watson relies on HP Designjet Z series photo printers and HP printing materials.
  • The new HP Designjet Z6200 Photo Printer prints up to 60 inches wide at speeds of up to 1,500 square feet/hour.
  • ARTtrust helps artists, galleries and buyers certify the authenticity and longevity of fine-art prints.

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»HP Designjet Z6200 Photo Printer
»HP Designjet Z3200 Photo Printer

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A world-renowned fine art, editorial and commercial photographer, Watson is a master at seeing his subjects as graphic elements—and the result is a stunning, dramatic body of work. Also a master printmaker, Watson does much of his digital printing in-house, using the control, consistency and immediacy his HP Designjet Z series photo printers offer.

“I think photographers should always print their own work—it gives you the ability to explore another dimension of the original image,” Watson explains. “When you send work out to be printed, it’s a compromise. Where I might want a print to be dark for the effect, a technician might say it’s too dark. The advantage of my HP printers is that it’s my choice whether it’s dark or light—not somebody else’s.”

Sensational art deserves sensational equipment

One of Watson’s current exhibits, UFO: Unified Fashion Objectives, supported in part by HP, is a retrospective of four decades of work, much of which first appeared in the pages of Vogue and Rolling Stone. The images, recently on display in Hamburg and Vienna, were printed almost entirely with Watson’s HP Designjet Z3200 Photo Printer on HP Matte Litho-realistic Paper and HP Super Heavyweight Plus Matte Paper.

With his HP Designjet Z series photo printers, Watson can achieve the gallery-quality colors and sharp blacks that meet his rigorous standards. “There’s a depth of color and black and white. It feels three-dimensional,” he says.

Albert Watson

“I get the same quality,
charisma and depth as a
platinum print— that’s
pretty impressive.”

What you see is what you get

Watson also recently released UFO: Unified Fashion Objectives, a 408-page coffee table book of his iconic images, and Strip Search, a two-volume set of photos taken in Las Vegas between the years 2000 and 2005. To ensure that the digital files were published to his exact specifications, Watson turned to his HP Designjet Z3200 to print all of the masters for the books.

“Providing a master is how I ensure the subtleties and balance of color in my books,” says Watson.

Because HP Designjet Z series photo printers provide exceptional color matching, creating the perfect master became a much easier task. “A print needs to feel like what’s on the screen. HP printers are brilliant at doing that interpretation for you,” says Watson.

Promising solutions

Of course, even the most brilliant prints are impressive only if they last. By relying on HP printing materials and HP Vivera pigment inks, Watson knows he’s getting exceptionally fade-resistant prints.1 And thanks in part to ARTtrust, a self-certification system developed by Prooftag™ in collaboration with HP that Watson uses with some of his prints, he can give buyers even more confidence that the prints are authentic.

“I think it’s a necessary innovation in this day and age,” says Watson. He sees ARTtrust as a promising solution in the digital era to help combat counterfeiting—and make it easier to certify authenticity.

Recently Watson also had the opportunity to review prints made on HP’s newest product, the HP Designjet Z6200 Photo Printer, which can produce gallery-quality prints up to 60 inches wide (152.4 cm).

The photo printer uses an embedded spectrophotometer to print with excellent color accuracy and consistency. And photographers are never more than a few clicks away from professional ICC profiles customized for the printer, paper and environmental conditions. Of a set of test prints from the new photo printer, Watson says:

“They’re fabulous. The
HP Designjet Z6200 is very promising. ”

1 Image permanence estimates by HP Image Permanence Lab based on testing on a range of HP photo, fine art and specialty papers: confirmation tests in progress at Wilhelm Imaging Research, Inc. For details, see www.hp.com/go/supplies/printpermanence.