Over the past decade, with the focus on social media and doing everything on our phones, printing photographs has diminished significantly. This is unfortunate in my view.
When was the last time you made a print of one of your great images, or had one made? When last did you visit a gallery or photography museum to enjoy high quality prints of photographs? Currently going to galleries is more challenging, but we need to support them so they can survive and be here as we recover from the pandemic. They are an important part of photography. Another option is to get good photography books by top photographers. One of my treasures is Ansel Adams Images 1923-1974.
Seeing well-made prints of good images has a special meaning and beauty. It can evoke strong emotions when done well. Using well chosen papers or other print surfaces, as well as careful framing, mounting and display, the full impact of an image can be realized. Seeing a great image on a tiny phone screen for a few seconds misses so much of the potential of that image. We, and all the people that see our work, are missing out on the full experience of the work using phones, tablets or laptops to view the photographs.
It has been years since I made digital prints and more than 2 decades since I made prints in a darkroom. In December of last year I decided that printing my best photographs would help me improve and potentially create a different path for my work to be displayed and hence seen.
Making, mounting and displaying an archival quality fine art print is a not trivial task, but well worth the effort. My knowledge was rusty, but there is a plethora of articles, Youtube videos and blog postings that helped me get back up to speed on current printers, papers and tooling. The first big decision was selecting a printer. After many hours of research, reading reviews and watching various video reviews and instructional sessions I selected the Canon P-1000 Color Printer that can print on up to 19-inch wide paper or print media. While I waited to get the printer to come I selected some paper to try out. I ended up getting several packs of fine art variety packs of Hahnemuehle paper. I also downloaded all the ICC profiles for all the paper finishes so that the color profiles could be adjusted correctly for the particular paper. If you are just printing Black and White the ICC profiles are not needed.
I was not disappointed with any of these choices and have selected a subset of papers after trying out a whole raft of them. I picked 4 papers, a Smooth Matte finish Matte FineArt), a heavily textured fine art paper (William Turner), a Glossy Byarta (Glossy FineArt) and their Metallic Paper. The Metallic is very interesting. It has a silver finish and is very reflective, but appropriate prints on this paper look stunning. The William Turner, creates beautiful prints, again for the right subject. Some folks may prefer the Museum Etching paper which is excellent as well.
Having the printing part set up leaves the matting and framing process to learn and get in place. I am working on that, but do not yet have all the pieces to start practicing and fine-tuning how to do it properly. That will be in a future posting.
Doing all this, together with being restricted from serious travel, has inspired me to put together a new and very different body of work. I have just started taking the photographs and will share the results soon. The good news for us all is the constraints of our current situation can also be the spark to do something different than we usually do expanding our skills and horizons.