In the digital age, we spend a lot of time in front of screens. Many of us retouch our own work, distribute it digitally, and even only have a digital portfolio. Some sell prints of client work, or fine art prints. And, some get published in magazines. In a past article on reinvigorating your love for the craft, I touched briefly on printing your work, and would like to expand on that today.
When I purchased my Epson 3880 wide-format printer (now replaced by the Epson P800), it raised a lot of eyebrows in the community around me. People were uncertain of the need for such a printer, or the need to even print at all. However, I have found printing, both digital and analog, to be one of my favorite parts of the craft of photography. I hope that I can convince some of you who may not yet print to dip your feet in the water and splash around a little. Here's why I print.
A Print is Tangible
A print is tangible. You can hold it. You can appreciate it. You can spend time with it. Hanging it on the wall allows you to stop as you pass it in the morning, or study it as you enjoy a cup of tea. Spending this time with your images is a great way to not only learn to love the finished product, but to see areas you can improve in.
A Print can be Personal
A print of your work for yourself is a very personal thing. It is not made for Facebook likes, or the satisfaction of the masses. It is for you. This is a powerful thing. When you print an image that you are proud of, hold it in your hands, and appreciate it simply for what it is, you are able to get a clearer sense of who you are and what your image is about.
A Print is Final
Once you hit the print button, you're committed. Sure, there are small touch-ups that can be made to a physical print, but not like being in Photoshop. I find that this makes me examine my images more carefully during the retouching stage. If I know I'm committed to making a final print, I tend to look more carefully. This has given me great insight into how I can improve my compositions and my retouching.
A Print can be Social
Prints can be a great way to share your work. For my recent series on craftsmen in Korea, I printed my work in order to get feedback from trusted friends. This meant that we could sit in the beautiful light of a cafe window, hold the work, and study it closely. There was no barrier between us and the image, no distractions. The conversation stayed on the work, and the focus was on the large prints – the way they were intended to be viewed.
A Large Print is Impressive
Although a print is not necessarily large, printing does enable you to make prints that are larger than a monitor, or other device. This is impressive, and there is great satisfaction in seeing your work large enough to fill your field of view. It is with these large prints that you truly get to appreciate the tonal qualities of your image, and the fine details that you have captured.
I certainly print for clients from time to time. However by and large, my prints are personal. We have a rotating gallery in our home that gets updated or changed depending on what we feel like looking at. Have you printed your work? Why do you print? What do you print? If you haven't printed, would you like to try? What is holding you back? Or, what makes you not want to print?