I remember hearing stories from other photographers about the magic of watching their print come to life in the darkroom. Even though I’ve never darkroom printed, I still get pretty excited when a print of mine comes out of my Canon printer. This isn’t an article about Canon, but it is about printing and why it’s the ultimate proof of self-worth as a photographer. That’s a journey that many don’t map out; but here’s what you should know.
A Print is Self Worth
A print is self-worth. It’s a statement that you’re putting on an image that you’ve created to make it manifest. It isn’t necessarily a collab with a brand where you’re building their worth. And it totally isn’t a thing where you’re creating for likes and comments to build the interactivity of another brand. Instead, it’s devoid of all there. There are no ads or notifications trying to ping for your attention with a print. It’s just exactly what it is.
Years ago, people used to get dressed up and shot photos of special occasions. That’s part of the reason why we’re so in love with vintage photos. We don’t do that anymore and we surely don’t treat photography with the same sense of ceremony that previous generations did. That’s the same sort of ceremony and importance that you should treat printing with. It should really just be only your very best.
The Paper Counts
I remember there was a time when my mother wanted all of the photos that we’ve shot before printed. But the problem was that the paper we used was awful and fell to issues like flooding and time. So with that said, the paper that you’re using to print photographs really counts. The higher end stuff truly does last and doesn’t patina the way that many other papers do. Further, it gives another feeling when you’re holding it. You treat it with care and respect.
Bigger is Better
Small prints simply just don’t hit the spot anymore partially because of the fact that phone screens and tablet screens are so large. An 8×10 print is almost laughable these days. Instead, go bigger! I regularly print at 17×22 because it helps you really look at a scene and feel it.
Oh, and don’t fold your prints up.
Fun fact: canvas is the best thing to print your photo on because it’s the most versatile thing to hang in your home. If you’re printing a glossy print, it’s a different story as you need to minimize refelctions and you need the light to really make it pop. Said light also needs to hit from a particular direction. If you’re printing a matte photograph, consider hitting it with a lot of light.
Years ago, we did an entire guide on how to light a print you should take a look at because the information is timeless.
One in a Million
There’s an idea in communication theory that scarcity makes something more attractive. A photo on the internet is what it is — you can always come back to it. But a print is something that can only be experienced in person like your favorite burger, the feeling you get when you smell an alluring perfume, or experience you feel when you see your favorite band live and listen to the music. Printing is our concert — and we should embrace it as such.