When was the last time you printed some photos of your family and gave them away as a gift? When was the last time you went out and printed some of the vacation photos that turned out really well? I’ve been sorting out the last of my grandfathers stuff in his house since he passed away and I’ve found tons of those 4 x 6 prints from the one hour photo labs. It’s a cool experience seeing all of the photos that someone took from a roll of film. I get a sense of what happened at the dinner/party that night, I see a lot more of the little details around the area and I feel like I’m watching a scene go by as opposed to experiencing a single good photograph (as I usually do).
I’m glad that growing up I would see a bunch of 4x6 prints from the labs, I think for children growing up today the idea of a photograph is going to be mostly a thing you experience on a digital screen. Now there’s nothing wrong with that, what matters is the person behind the camera not the medium you view it in. But I still believe that the best way to view photographs is to hold them in you hand, and really put your nose up to it. I used to enjoy getting “professional mattes” done on all of my printed photographs but nowadays I have loose prints to hold in my hand, feeling the texture of the paper is a something I love and I don’t really care if the matte protects the photo better, I don’t toss around my photos. Being able to stick your nose up to the photograph without feeling a burning in your eyes from the brightness of the screen is a wonderful thing.
One day I would like to own a photo printer of my own, and test out different kinds of papers and adjust everything exactly to my liking. When I was in school at da Vinci college we had an exhibition of our photographs at the end of the program and the school had a very nice epson photo printer, it made great prints but somewhere along the line the settings got messed up and I was the one in charge of figuring out how to make the photos look good. It was a painstaking task but totally worth it, the feeling of getting everything to work out was great once it was all over. I enjoy the feeling of making a project work, everything has problems that happen along the way and rolling with the punches just makes the final night feel so much better.
Bu back to printing photos, why don’t you print more photos? It seems to me that it’s one of those things that nobody has time for anymore. Why bother when you can view the photos on a digital device? Photo paper is a delicate thing, you can’t crumple it or the whole thing is ruined. If you manage to find a space to store it in safely it almost always gets put away and rarely looked upon. But I think that it’s the very effort that you put into safekeeping and eventually coming back to the same photographs that make them special. The fact that we don’t print as many photos as we used to doesn’t mean that we don’t have as many great memories, it just means that we won’t waste our time preserving the useless ones. I believe that today the printed photograph is even more powerful now that it’s become a non-necessity. Nobody needs to make prints which is why all of the photographs that people do print are usually really special and have some kind of sentimental value. One last word of advice, most hard drives will only last a few years while professionally printed photograph should last hundreds.