Photography is enjoying a renaissance and that is a very good thing. When everyone is taking part in photography on some level it means that photography is fulfilling one of the great promises of its invention; to act as living chronicle of our lives that will be a legacy for future generations. Part of fulfilling that promise is dependent on what is left as a record of these passing days and years. How else will these images be seen by those in years to come? The consideration of the legacy of our photography brings us to the print. There are many reasons why the print is important, but lets consider three;
- Prints are artifacts – images displayed on screen are by their nature ephemeral. You view, you click, you move on to the next. If the image makes an impression on you it is possible that you will bookmark the page to return later. Of course if the web page is taken down or the image deleted it is gone forever. A print is a physical object. Being in the presence of a well made print is very different than viewing an image on screen. It is about a subtle nuance, the engaging of the senses on an entirely different level.
- Prints require skill – The making of a successful print engages skills that are very different from making an image successful on-screen. For the photographer it means a better understanding of the image and a deepening of their own skill and aesthetic. For the viewer it means a deeper experience by experiencing something masterfully made.
- Prints have longevity – Even drugstore prints, if stored carefully, are likely to outlast digital images which threaten to become inaccessible as technology and storage media changes. The sheer number of images taken digitally presents a daunting prospect of transferring those images to future storage media or converting to future formats. Most images will be lost. When you make a print of your work you are committing to it’s existence. Something that can endure.
If you are engaged in photography today you can do yourself a great service by printing your work. Not all your work but your best and most meaningful images. It is a sign of confidence and a commitment to your efforts as a photographer.