How and Why You Should Print Your Photos

However good your photos might look on your screen, there’s nothing like holding a print in your hands or having it hang on your wall — and there’s a few other good reasons to have physical editions. Photographer Joris Hermans explains why you should be printing your work and has some solid tips on how to go about it.

Hermans is not wrong when he says that owning your own printer isn’t necessarily the right route to take, and landscape photographer Thomas Heaton runs through a few of the downsides in this video. The Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 will set you back just shy of $1,300, and there are ongoing costs — print cartridges — to factor in as well.

If you’re printing from a reputable lab, it’s worth calibrating the screen on which you edit your photographs. While you can buy something like a Datacolor SpyderX Pro Colorimeter for $170, keep in mind that some labs — such as theprintspace in London — will very kindly calibrate your laptop for you if you drop by when they’re not too busy, a process that takes about 15 minutes. You can then download and install the lab's specific print profiles to give you confidence that what you see on your screen will be very close to what the printer delivers.

Something that Hermans doesn’t mention: there are advantages to putting images behind glass, such as UV protection and the fact that when it gets dusty, you’re not going to be wiping down the print itself.

What other tips would you add to Hermans’ advice? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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Tom Reichner's picture

I think that photos look best on a hi-resolution computer monitor. Why? Because the light is coming from within the image, which is freaking awesome! With a physical print, light is being reflected off of the surface of the print back to our eyes so the colors aren't as true because we are looking at reflected light instead of intrinsic light.

Anyway, despite the fact that I think images look best on an internally lit electronic display, I still do have quire a few or my images printed. I have them printed on metal, and I like them big. The smallest I have had anything printed in the last 4 years is 36" by 24". But I really prefer 48" by 32", especially for prints that I am selling to clients.

I hope to get some larger prints made on metal, but it is hard to find labs that print 6 foot by 4 foot or 5 foot by 7 foot metal images for a reasonable price, and the shipping is preposterously expensive. Hopefully, someday these larger sizes in metal will become more readily and affordably available.

There's nothing like a nice presentation on metal. The fact that there is no frame, no matte, and no glass makes for a very clean presentation, which I find preferable.

microteck's picture

I'm pretty much an amateur so I don't have much printed. But I do have one image printed on metal and it looks amazingly close to what I see on my 5K monitor. It shines!

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Probably because I live in a huge house and my walls feel empty?

derek j's picture

pretty much why i print stuff out. giant empty walls in a dark basement look better with landscape photos hung on them

Lee Christiansen's picture

Prints on paper invite us to look at them whereas electronic displays seem to announce their presence and demand attention - so I prefer the subtly of paper prints. They reflect the natural ambience of a room and have a more organic vibe.

Whilst backlit images have a lovely strong look, it is going to be a long time before we have affordable electronic displays that don't look - well... electronic.

That said, I have my Eizo CG319X set at a lowish 75Cd/m2 so it almost looks like a print - almost.

But paper, with it's varied qualities, looks amazing through quality non-reflective Miroguard glass that has high transmission qualities. And framed suitably, these can make an impact. I've yet to see an electronic display with the same quality of frame.

I'm sure one day we'll look back at paper and wonder why - but for now, a great paper print still holds something special.

zave smith's picture

I actually made two prints this week. My Epson 800 had not been used in 6 months or so and I was worried about the nozzles becoming clogged. I printed on Moab Lasal, matt. which is one of my go-to papers. Looking at these printed images reminded me how good, how rich, how deep and full of subtle texture a good print can be. It is a very different experience than viewing on a monitor. A good print invites you to linger. A good print relaxes the eye and allows the beauty to seek in. It only made me wish that I had more walls in my house to hang pictures on.

Jon Kellett's picture

Texture is something that adds so much to an image, yet never looks good onscreen.

David Mackenzie's picture

This article says absolutely nothing.