Print Your Work.
Seriously, it’s an important step for the photographer to go that extra step and these days with computers so prevalant photos are being left to view on a screen. And I know, I do it often also, but I’m making a point in 2015 to print more, either digitally on an inkjet or traditionally in the darkroom. But it makes such a difference to be able to hold your prints and look at them. I love looking at a well made darkroom print, to see the texture and tone that comes out of them, and appreciate the time the photographer took to produce this. But that’s just me, but why should you?
There’s a reason that when Ansel Adams wrote and released his three books on photography they were in order: The Camera, The Negative, and The Print. Printing is really the final step in the photography cycle, to have that physical image in your hands to see it as you want it to be seen. And as I mentioned before, I love seeing prints, inkjet or optical. It helps bring that final vision to life. And it’s a good way to edit your work, that is, to bring your collection down to a handful of good shots that you’re super proud of! Plus with printing it offers so many more ways to be creative about your work. From adjusting everything in Photoshop and then printing it on an inkjet or sending it off to a lab. To making crazy modifications in the darkroom through dodging/burning/toning then even more with alternative processes like VanDyke Brown, Platinum/Palladium, and Lith Printing.
But you may say, it’s so much easier to just leave them on a screen and look at them using my smart phone or tablet. And sure that’s great when you’ve gone on vacation and come back with hundreds (or thousands) of images and just need to dump them online, I do that. But what I’d love to see is maybe 20-30 images printed of your favourite photos from the trip, nicely printing in an album or mounted. My friend Melody does that a lot. When she was in university she would often show me her print wall, and be very happy when her latest prints came in. And now that she works, she has some of her work displayed in her office! I do the same thing, and keep a handful of darkroom prints hanging by my desk at work. Often switching them out with the latest out of the darkroom. In fact I always make a couple extra for that very purpose.
Another good thing about making prints is that they make fantastic gifts! Need a quick house warming gift, or a birthday present, give art, and prints that you’ve produced! At the Photostock event that I love to attend there’s always a print exchange, put in a print, and you get a print! Or even through smaller print exchanges between photographers have yeilded some great images in my growing collection which when I have a place of my own I can’t wait to make a gallery wall!
Now if you’re printing on an inkjet you can skip this part, this is more for those working in the darkroom, but good practice for digital printers/shooters as well. If you are planning on making a print series, it’s important to maintain some level of constancy right from the beginning. Shoot with purpose of printing, make sure you’re exposures are nailed, make sure you’re using the same camera, film stock, and developing methods. Why, because once you get in the darkroom you can have your baseline set with the first print, then maintain it all the way through. Therefore you only really have to worry about dodging and burning or smaller adjustments for individual prints. Also set yourself a realistic goal. I usually go for 50% for my film print collections, so if I shot a total of 24 images, I’ll only print between 10-12 images, that’s a good day’s worth of work in front of me. And print multiples, usually I do 2-3 copies of each image so I have spares. And finally take notes, detailed notes of everything you do (exposure, location of the neg, toning, dodging/burning), so that if someone wants a copy, you can just set it up right away and know exactly what to do.
Hopefully this has inspired you to print! And if you know me personally, I can’t wait to see some of your work!