If you’ve printed from film in a darkroom, you’ve experienced the real magic of seeing your print appear on a blank piece of photosensitive paper when submerged in a tray of chemicals. Shooting film offers a different experience than digital does – developing a roll is like Christmas in a way; you may not remember each and every frame you’ve shot, so it’s a surprise when you see the photos appear on the developed negative. However, you can’t fully experience an analog photo fully by viewing a tiny, inverted transparency. To get the full experience, you need to print.
In these digital days, so many wonderful photos will never fully “live”; will never become tangible, archivable, real things. They float around hard drives and cyberspace and if humanity ceased to exist, the archaeologists of future races stumbling upon our Earthly remnants would think there was a sharp decline in photography in the early 90s and a comparatively small resurgence beginning a decade or so later. They would wonder why photographs became a rarity when in fact the truth is very much the opposite.
The ever-exuberant Peter McKinnon knows this, and he’s made a video to help digital-era photographers see what they’re missing. Watching jets of ink spray onto a piece of photo paper may not have quite the same ‘wow’ factor as printing in a darkroom, but it really rounds out the photo experience and will literally show you your work in a new light.
McKinnon asserts that if, like so many digital photographers, you aren’t printing, you’re only halfway practicing your craft. You miss out on a whole other side of the experience of being a photographer, the tactile bit of birthing your work into the physical world and finding the right materials for each photo to fully represent the vision. Do you want to print on canvas? Matte paper? There are so many options out there and they suit different purposes, so go play and enjoy!
If you’re a photographer who works directly with the digital-demanding public, this is good information for you for another reason – selling printed goods, whether that’s albums, desk prints or huge wall pieces, is infinitely better for your stream of revenue than simply offloading digital copies, especially if you aren’t charging much. Remember – a digital file is your negative, so to speak, so once you hand it over, the client doesn’t need you anymore unless they want another session, so do price your hard work accordingly.
Once you see the value of a print, you can impart this on your clients and on top of added monetary to you as the photographer, you will get the joy of knowing that your work is alive on someone’s mantle or wall, not forgotten in some dark corner of the digital world as a jumble of digital media is piled on daily.
If you’re interested in getting your own large-format printer, the best are made by Epson and Canon. McKinnon unboxes his new Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 17″ Professional Photographic Inkjet Printer in the video, but there are many options from both brands, so have a look around. Happy printing!