The Catalog Doctor Marketing Remedies for Multichannel Pro
Option #2: If your design studio or agency has the right kind of printer, and if it can calibrate to SWOP, it can provide you with both loose proofs and composed page proofs. (It should also work with your print vendor on calibrating.)
Option #3: Install your own SWOP-calibrated printer.
Option #4: Send all your images to a color house, which already has high-end, calibrated equipment.
Option #5: Have your press vendor generate your proofs.
In all cases, you'll need to review proofs, correct color, and then keep re-outputting proofs until all the colors are right. So who should correct the color?
Problem: "I learned Photoshop, so can't I correct color in the studio?"
The Doctor's Remedy: Photo studios have gone through a huge technological learning curve (and equipment investment) over the past decade. They've learned vast new skill sets, including color correction. And most studios nowadays are selling color correction as an added service.
Does that mean you can skip using a color house anymore? That your photo studio's color-corrected images can go directly to press? Maybe, but not likely.
Back when catalogers shot film and always used a color house, color correction was done by highly skilled folks with years of experience. Good color correction was — and still is — a complex, detailed operation requiring a combination of high technical skills and artistry. Even though your studio's color correction may look great on its studio monitor, unless your photo studio has an old-line color house operator on staff, you're unlikely to get the level of skill and finesse you need for great, printable color.
But does your catalog really need great color? If you're shooting tools, work clothes or office supplies, then studio color may be fine. But if you're shooting fashion, gifts or food (or any high-quality products needing high-quality color and images to match), then studio-corrected color will almost never work for you.
Susan J. McIntyre is Founder and Chief Strategist of McIntyre Direct, a catalog agency and consultancy in Portland, Oregon offering complete creative, strategic, circulation and production services since 1991. Susan's broad experience with cataloging in multi-channel environments, plus her common-sense, bottom-line approach, have won clients from Vermont Country Store to Nautilus to C.C. Filson. A three-time ECHO award winner, McIntyre has addressed marketers in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, has written and been quoted in publications worldwide, and is a regular columnist for Retail Online Integration magazine and ACMA. She can be reached at 503-286-1400 or email@example.com.