The Print – They confront us esthetically and emotionally with wonderful memories and stories-They are there screaming look at me again.

The Print – They confront us esthetically and emotionally with wonderful memories and stories-They are there screaming look at me again.

This is a difficult subject. It shouldn’t be but for the fact that prints seem to be a very minute part of the photography process in this day and age. More and more people rely on some form of digital to see their images.

Images that other people make get shared through digital media devices such as pads, phones, computer monitors, and the like and it is pretty instantaneous. For some that is enough.

The stroke of a finger or mouse allows anyone today to rapidly cross over large amounts of images in a single press. Two seconds or less and they are on the way to the next image never lingering to study or imagine.

The amount of time is really a few seconds. That’s long enough to know that you saw a familiar person or place or maybe something close to unique in its presentation and you gathered all that up for a matter of seconds and then moved on. You will more than likely never refer back to those images. They will be stored digitally for however long digital storage is (no one really knows) and those memories will be forgotten as we move on to today and tomorrow.

I am seventy-four years old. My years in photography are extensive and like many others from my era, I can remember the family pulling out the big black albums when “family circles” got together. They were big heavy albums with thick black pages and had “corners” that pasted to the pages and pictures were inserted in the “corners.”

My uncles & cousins (all of us between 5 and 18 years of age) would carefully go from page to page, slowly, looking at pictures of the family and friends of the family dating back for so many years. Memories of the children, aunts and uncles, family friends, grand parents, their parents and each picture caused lingering looks once again offering up their stories that we had seen before and heard before.

There were plainly framed pictures on the wall from years past showing baby pictures, graduation pictures, and the like that were always there as constant reminders of our lives. So yes between albums, wall hanging, coffee tables, dressers, there were stories for us to be reminded of.

While recently preparing to downsize to smaller home, my wife and I began to go through lots of boxes that were in the basement. These boxes had traveled with me from New York to Ohio, then to Atlanta and finally Washington DC. I moved so much that some things never got unpacked.

In those boxes were slides, negatives, and prints of all sizes. There is a lot of really old stuff shot by my dad. Besides the fact that he was a part time professional photographer he was also anal about documenting our family and friends, relatives as well every day life around him. In some ways he could have been considered one form of a street photographer.

Instead of packing stuff, this great find had me sitting down on the cold basement floor going through images and sorting them and remembering years past from childhood, and on. Thank you dad once again for teaching me photography and showing me the value of the print on paper.

To clarify all of this before you begin to think I am a against digital media presentation, I AM NOT. I think all forms of presentation have their place and it is more than possible that some day digital presentation, without prints may become the only method of viewing your photography. But we are in the here and now so let’s get your really terrific images on to the wall or into albums.

I still feel that printing images brings out the true essence of the image.

Prints draw a person’s eye’s to an image and makes that person linger to study and admire what you have accomplished.

We look at images that are printed, differently than we look at images that are not. I find that I have a tendency to stop, and look for a much longer time at a print than I do an image on a tablet or phone. Prints endure. They stay in our homes and businesses as well as albums and require little effort for us to view them and study them. They confront us and insist that we do look at them more often and to delve into their meaning and the artists meaning.

Making a conscious effort to select images you want to print (because you just can’t print them all) makes you focus on those images that are most appealing to you.

Images that get printed and displayed carry greater meaning and are always going to open your mind to contemplate the moment the image was created.

This leaves us with decisions to make. Print or file digitally. If you do not care about your images and do not want them to have the ability to truly stir emotion and meaning then just leave them as cold ones and zeros that form the image that will be get the 2 second view from you and others. But if you would like your work to be recognized and be appreciated by others as well as yourself then you must consider making prints of those images that mean the most to you. Whether they are for hanging or becoming part of coffee table albums does not matter. What does matter is the ability to look upon them and remember things past and be warmed by their meaning.

Should you decide that making some prints and keeping the rest as digital information, then there are printing options available.

You can print your own images at home. There are printers available in all shapes and sizes. However, printing at home is time consuming and to get images to be correctly interpreted one should have the printer, computer, and screen properly calibrated. That is easy to do when you have a calibration tool like X-rite.

You could settle on a small and portable printer that makes just 4×6 prints virtually automatically or you could opt for one that makes murals. The small printer that I would recommend is the Epson PictureMate Charm Photo Printer. Test reviews indicate the best color and speed and cost per print.

However you could decide that you really want to become a print master and go for the larger Epson or Canon printers that are very capable of surpassing lots of the bigger professional labs.

If printing your own work is not for you and you want great results without spending hours learning, experimenting and ultimately printing then bring your images to a local camera store like District Camera in Burke Va. as well as many web based labs.

Sometimes it is well worth it not to invest in expensive printers and inks for the occasional special image.

Finally there are some excellent on line services. Mpix seems to be one of the more popular ones, but there are plenty for you to Google. The only problem with on line services is you do not have the local contact to discuss what you are trying to achieve.

In the end, just print some of your great images and make a conscious decision that while saving your digital images you should also be printing them for others to enjoy them as much as you had creating them. It is the best way to truly preserve your precious memories.

addendum:  I shoot Fuji X cameras.  Other folks shoot other brands.  It does not matter which mirrorless or Dslr you use.  They are all capable of producing prints of most any size you want.  What is important is understanding image quality.  Everything looks good on computers, phones and tablets, but pictures taken with tablets and phones simply do not bode well for printing a really great image.  They look the phone, computer screen or tablet.  So if you do not own a great Dslr or Mirrorless camera then you should consider one so you get the best of the best for printing your memories, your masterpieces

Another article of interest on this subject is HERE


8 thoughts on “The Print – They confront us esthetically and emotionally with wonderful memories and stories-They are there screaming look at me again.

  1. Hello Elliot, I always enjoy your posts. I am going through zillions of old family photos myselfand having them digitized by Scan Cafe. Where was it that tou told us in an earlier post to rent eqipment? Am anxious to try the Fuji xe? Also, have signed up for your tulips in Haymarket workshop and dont believe youve told us where we’ll be meeting. Looking forward to seeing you and the tulips in April, Sky

    Sent from my iPad



  2. Elliot, Spot on essay. You are lucky to have those. My Father had shelves of albums of our family going back to the late 19th Century. A sister took possession when he passed and then lost them all in a lightening strike fire, followed immediately by massive flooding.

    Prints are great. They are, however, really hard to back up.


    1. My brother has a bunch of albums and I have prints and negatives at least dating back to the 1930’s. Today our digital files are our negatives, but the time frame for how digital storage will hold up is still not known. I am amazed that none of the old negatives and slides have gone down in quality. In the meantime I have tons of prints to scan. I hate scanning.


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