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Printing with Jeanloup Sieff

A few years ago, my printing team and I had the privilege to print a book for Jeanloup Sieff, the famous french photographer. The title of the book is «Faites comme si je n’étais pas là» (Do as if I was not there).

I was very excited that JL Sieff came to see us !

I loved that moment when photographers came to our printing shop to have their books printed.

Usually, they felt quite nervous before the printing started. Why ? Because their precious photographs were no longer in their hands ! They generally spent a lot of time to get perfect results before they open the door of our workshop.

But, Jeanloup Sieff was not at all worried.

When he arrived, I went to welcome him in the guest room and I noticed that he carried his Leica camera around his neck. I said : «You have brought your camera with you ! That’s great ! » then he answered : « No, my camera brought me here! ».

I knew that he loved the play of words, and I thought to myself, well, that’s a good start !

He was so kind and humble, like most top world photographers. Regarding this, It is interesting to observe that the more experienced the photographer is, the more modest he is too. Therefore, the moment we spent with him on the printing machine was characteristic of this great photographer’s behaviour. JL Sieff knew exactly the printing result he wanted.

We printed in tritone process allowing us to get very deep black tones while keeping details in gray shades.

You know, we sometimes spent a lot of time with customers around the machine repeating the procedure many times to get the good result, a result that we could have obtained in only five minutes if the client had not been there !

With JL Sieff, the press checking was quick because he knew exactly what he wanted.

He never hesitated, straight forward regarding the image. Besides, it was not necessary for him to check the proofs or even the prints his publisher had brought.

Occasionally, during the printing of this book, JL Sieff found that the result was better than his own prints. As sometimes the results of the photographs we printed were closer to his memory of the original scene he captured in an instant with his camera. This happened to us many times with a large number of photographers.

So by now, which is the reference ? The photograph from the negative, the original print or this new printed image ? In my opinion, none. There are so many ways to enjoy a photograph ! The book is one of them and I love that !

Note : The printing of this book proved to be the last for JL Sieff as he died a few months later. We keep in mind a really charming man.





« Faites comme si je n’étais pas là » Editions de la Martinière, Paris-France – 216pp, hardback.