If you saw the headline for the article you’re probably thinking “Wow! Matt has really lost it these days”. But bear with me and if you make it to the end, I have a very rewarding assignment for you.
I recently released a course called “The Perfect Print” and it’s all about helping you get your prints to match your photography vision. I’ve showed many tutorials to help achieve that vision on the computer, but I also think it’s important to achieve that same vision in a print – and as most of us know, the computer screen and the print are two very different things.
I think it’s easy to think that the world has gone all digital and nobody cares about tangible items (like prints) anymore. But let me pose this thought to you. Why do so many people still play board games (adults and kids alike), when most of the board games also have a digital version too?
Take monopoly as an example. Monopoly exists as a computer game or an app you can download to your tablets and phones. But most families that play it, still use the board game? Why?
It’s easier on the app right? It’s much faster. I don’t have to count money, we don’t have to worry about accidentally hitting the board and moving the pieces and mis-counting something. And nobody has to worry about me being the banker, and “mistakingly” putting an extra $500 in my stack (because I would never cheat on purpose) 😉
The app does everything for you. But yet, people still use the board game.
I think printing is similar. Social media and websites are a much easier way to show off a photo. And they’re a much faster way to do it too. Making a print requires more time right? Well kind of… but once you hone your skills you’ll find you can do it in your sleep. But still, it does take more time. And it takes WAY more thought to make a print. Just like hand-writing a note to some one right?
But the impact is so different. Send a text to share a digital photo with some one and they’ll think “Wow… great shot”. But actually print out a photo for some one and hand it to them, and watch their eyes light up. It’s like that handwritten note. We unconsciously know this person took time out of their day to do something that was a little harder than normal… for us. We appreciate it more because we know that, well, it’s commonplace to do anything digitally nowadays. It’s fast, quick and easy.
Your Weekend Assignment
So here’s my assignment for you this weekend (or within a few days of whenever you read this). Make a print and give it to some one. You all know some one that you’ve talked photography with in the past that would appreciate it because maybe they’re not a photographer. If you have your own printer, then print one for them. If you don’t head over to a site like Mpix.com.
Stuck on the details? No sweat… here’s the formula.
- First, don’t get caught up on perfection. Nobody but you will ever know what perfect is because nobody will ever be able to hold that print you gave them up to their computer screens and compare it (watch my “Don’t fall in to the Side-by-Side Comparison Trap” video for more – it’s at the bottom of the page). Perfectionism and procrastination are the enemy of all things good in photography and creativity. As Nike says… Shut up and Just Do it! (okay, I added the shut up part).
- Take down the brightness of your monitor by about half and add some extra Exposure setting to the photo before you print it. Prints are always darker than the screen. Forget about noise reduction and sharpening. Just brighten it a little more than you normally would.
- If you’re stuck on what size to make, make them an 11×14 inch print. It’s less than $10 online. It’s small enough that even your smaller home photographic printers can make it (with a 13×19 sheet). And big enough that it makes an impact. And, they can very inexpensively go out to Walmart, Target or Amazon and buy a cheap frame for it.
- Write a note on a small piece of paper that you hand over with the print. Maybe tape it to the back. Include the name of the photo (if you have one), and a brief story about the photo itself. Something like “I took this photo at sunrise at Delicate Arch. I remember it being a cold morning, and anticipating the sun. And when it came up, I forgot how cold it was and the beauty of the scene in front of me took over”. Then sign and date the paper. Don’t overthink this part. It doesn’t have to be long and drawn out. The shorter the better.
That’s it. It sounds like a lot but I bet it doesn’t take you more than 30 minutes. And the expression and response you get will be well worth it.
Now, I know most of you reading this won’t do this task. And that’s okay. If anything, hopefully I’ve moved you over a bit more to the importance of having something tangible of your photography. I think online sharing and the digital world we live in is indeed great. However, I don’t think it was supposed to totally replace the tangible idea of printed photo. And it has. I don’t care if you only print small 4×6’s of your family moments. In fact, if that’s all you ever print, my article is a success because those are among the most important moments.
Just like we love to sit down and play monopoly with the family, we love to sit down with people and look through prints, rather than scroll through a phone or tablet to see them.
Have a great weekend!