As a photographer you probably hear over and over again about how you need to print your work. How there’s nothing like holding a print, etc… And I’ve heard people get very preachy about it. Don’t get me wrong. There is indeed nothing like holding a print. But my take is a little different. To me, it’s not just what holding a print does for you the photographer. It’s what the print does for everyone else who sees your work. A print makes you real. It doesn’t make you a real or a good photographer, but it does make your photography real. And it makes you memorable. In this digital age, we get so caught up in showing everything on our tablets and phones. There’s nothing wrong with that. In most cases, that may be the first and only place you can show your work. But you know what happens as soon as that person walks away? They forget about you because there’s nothing lasting and memorable about that digital tablet/phone image.

Say for example you don’t have prints in your house. Friends and visitors come over and every once in a while, and you show them your phone or tablet. I don’t know about you, but you know what happens to me when I do that? They say “Did you take that with your phone?”. NO!!!! But they don’t know that. So you have to convince them that you took it with a real camera. That there’s so much more detail and color than what they’re seeing. That this photo can actually be printed and seen larger than what they are seeing on that tiny screen. And what about the people that come over that you never get the chance to grab your tablet to show your work off? They never see your photos. But if they’re printed and hanging on your wall, they’re always there for people to see. Again, prints make your photography come to life. They give it a permanent quality.

I don’t know about you, but I plan to save my prints. Eventually I’ll hand them down to my kids. I hope my kids and my grandkids save them and always look back at them to say their dad took these photos. You can’t do that with digital files that sit on your computer though. In a way, a print makes them timeless.

It’s Kind Of Like Writing A Book

I can equate this to writing a book vs. making a DVD. Does writing a book pay more than making a DVD? In most cases no. Regardless of the industry, you can easily make more money (and spend less time producing) with a DVD than a book. But I bet if you asked 10 people what they considered more credit worthy, you know what they’d say? A book. The printed form of something immediately invokes a feeling of realness, quality and credibility. I’m not sure if it’ll always be that way, but regardless of how “digital” things have gone today, it’s still true.

I think the same goes for prints. They automatically feel more real than simply looking at a digital file. If some one saw one of your photos and said “Wow, I love it, I’d sure like a copy”, what do you think the impact would be if you send them a USB drive with the image on it. Pretty lame right? But if you sent them a print, now we’re talking.

This past Wednesday, RC and I did a show for The Grid called The Live Print Show (it’s free by the way). We talked a lot about the print, what it means, what paper we like, how to get a good print and what kinds of options you have if you’re not going to print yourself. The show is about an hour long, so if you’re looking to kill some time this weekend I hope you’ll stop by and watch it. Thanks and have a great weekend!


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