Brought to you by our friends at Richard Photo Lab
Max Wanger doesn’t discount the power of print in a digital world—or the value of a great partnership.
Wanger is a Los Angeles-based photographer who shoots commercial, editorial and wedding assignments. His work is dreamy, romantic and perfectly Instagram-able. About three years ago, he opened an online print shop with his wife and business partner, Margaux. People had been asking where to find prints of his work, and he thought he’d give it a go.
“Pretty quickly it turned into something way more serious than we had imagined in terms of it being successful and something we had to pay attention to as a business, which was really exciting,” Wanger says. “It’s another challenge. It gives me another outlet to be creative and think about photography in a different way.”
Today Print Shop by Max Wanger ships pieces to interior designers and other buyers in the U.S. and overseas, providing a little slice of heaven for viewers. Much of his imagery, such as his series of Waikīkī Beach in Honolulu, celebrates the beauty of expansive skies and bodies of water.
“They’re images I really like or think would sell well or that I’ve been asked about before,” he says. “It’s what I feel like would be a good representation of my work.”
He’s found photographs take on a different life when they’re printed and hung on a wall. “It’s important to see your work in print,” Wanger says. “Colors can translate differently, and suddenly you realize an image is much more powerful when it’s printed.”
For buyers, photography can generate powerful connections, he says. “Certain photographs might bring back a memory,” he explains. “Oftentimes the shots of the ocean and surfers or the ones I shot in Hawaii—they mean something to somebody because they’ve been to Hawaii or it reminds them of their honeymoon, or the colors in the photographs are their favorite blues.”
Wanger printed his own images in the early days of the print shop, but that didn’t last long; it was too expensive and time consuming. He turned over printing duties to Richard Photo Lab, a local lab that retains their one-on-one service despite their international reach. Richard staffs a close-knit team who utilize word of mouth to keep their business growing. The quality of the prints speaks for itself.
“Richard is a big reason why the photographs look as beautiful as they do,” he says. “Papers, quality and know-how are huge, and it really does make a difference in articulating your work in the right way.”
He got a taste of the lab’s personal approach early on. “When you first start working with a lab you want someone who will work with you to guide you and find the right papers [for your photographs],” he says. After some initial tests, he and the team found the best paper for his color palette, which he describes as softer and quieter with pops of color. Wanger also appreciates the lab’s ability to accommodate a variety of his print size requests, including standard sizes that go up to 30 x 45 inches and custom sizes as big as 45 x 65 inches.
Partnering with Richard Photo Lab has enabled Wanger to focus on other aspects of his growing print shop, like connecting with new audiences and challenging himself to take more photos to sell. “I don’t have to worry about the print quality,” he says. “I know I can count on them, and that makes my life so much easier and makes the business run—they’re a big part of what makes everything so successful.”
It doesn’t hurt that he really likes the team he talks with two or three times a week. “It’s that personal connection that sets them apart and is why I trust them so much,” he says. “They’re really friendly and supportive and super knowledgeable, and they make you feel like family. Why go anywhere else?”