I don’t print many photographs anymore. It’s a shame, really. In college I learned traditional darkroom printing, and while I wasn’t very good at it, I enjoyed the process. There was something satisfying about holding the print in my hands after hours spent dodging, burning, making adjustments with filters, and finally developing the paper. Nowadays, I still spend hours working with my images—albeit on a computer—but I rarely get the satisfaction of holding the final product in my hands. In fact, I hadn’t made a print of my personal work for five years until last week, for the gallery show now on display here at Pro Photo Supply.
I thought I knew the three images I chose for the show pretty well before I printed them. One was several years old, and all had been worked on for hours. Yet when I got the prints back from the lab it was as if I was seeing them for the first time. Despite all the technology we have to help match screen to print, nothing on a computer really compares to looking at a physical print, the level of detail is just so much higher. The printed images seemed to almost jump off the page. I was, quite frankly, stunned. Then came denial—were these actually the same images I had shot?—followed by guilt—why have I not printed anything for the past five years?—and finally acceptance—I guess this is just how things are going to be now: I need to make more prints!
We live in a time of instant gratification. We snap photos on our smart phones and they’re enhanced, saved, and displayed for public consumption in less than a minute. Our medium of final delivery is Facebook, where most people will view an image at less than one megapixel. The immediacy granted by digital photography and the Internet means we are now sharing ideas and art more quickly, and with a wider audience, than ever before. I can’t say that’s a bad thing, but I will say you owe it to yourself to slow down every once in a while. Take the time to really develop a photo and have that photo printed. Hang it on your wall, give it to a friend as a gift—or have your first gallery show. Your photos deserve to be seen at their best, and if you’re anything like me, you will be amazed by how good your images look in print.