Screen shots and prints:prints have always been my goal.
I strongly feel that a photograph’s worth is ultimately determined by how it lives -or dies- in print form. I’ll even add ,and this is about as close to dogmatic as I’ll ever get, that for me prints are the best way to experience photographs. No matter what they’re printed on, as long as it is well done, I always “enjoy” a printed version of a photograph more than a screen version.
Although presently I work digitally, I still find, just as I did in my darkroom, that photographs best reveal their strengths and weaknesses to me when I print them. If a photograph looks good on screen but “won’t print”, it’s most often a sure sign that I was kidding myself and that I can bin it without regret.
One of my favourites, works on screen, in a small way but a print really makes it come to life.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with some photographs having only an” on screen” digital life. And I enjoy working in a light room rather than a dark one, but still, a screen shot just doesn’t quite cut it for me . Simply put,with a screen shot there is no guarantee that the viewer is seeing what the photographer wants him to see at the size and in the colours she/he decided best works for that particular photograph. ( I know, this is also true with prints but to a much lesser degree in my view.) That’s why, even if I’m delighted to share my photographs as screen shots, and generally speaking to access the works of others on a screen, the digital revolution hasn’t changed my goal , which is for my photographs to exist as prints .
What the digital revolution has changed is how I go about taking photographs and printing them: I’ve traded in my film cameras, processing tanks and trays, contact printer and enlarger, for digital cameras,a scanner, a computer and an inkjet printer.
Of course, and I’m only talking black and white photography here, there are differences in the look and feel of film and digital negatives, and also in the look and feel of silver halide and inkjet prints, to name but the two processes that I’ve practised ( and that I mix at times when making inkjet prints from scans of my negatives). Having found both processes to fulfill my expectations with respect to what constitues effective prints of my photographs, I now exclusively print digitally whilst acknowledging that there are subtle differences between the two.
Inkjet prints are hard work and costly: I make my own.
When I took my first steps in photography, I quickly understood that to have control over the final result, the best route for an amateur was to learn how to process film and how to print, and do it yourself: which I did as the other route,collaboration with high quality labs, was out of the question.
Likewise,when I took my first steps in digital photography, I wanted to control as much as possible the final result and learned how to do it myself. Contrary to my experience in the darkroom, I expected that making an effective digital print would be cheap and as easy as hitting a button. How naive ! I quickly discovered that making an effective inkjet print is just as costly in quality materials, and finicky and challenging but infintiely less messy, less manual labour intense and possibly less wasteful and tedious than making silver halide prints. Once again, they are different creatures. As for that often referred to” exclusive magical experience” of the image progressively emerging on photographic paper in the processing tray, I remember it with a mixture of fondness, excitement and frustration and must say that I now experience something similar in my light room, when a print progressively emerges from the printer. And I get an extra rush when a print is finally framed.
I still get a sort of buzz as a print emerges from the printer,similar to that of seeing the image build on traditional paper in the processing tray: will the image hold its promises or be a disappointment ? Do I need to tweek the file or the settings to get it just right ?
In a nutshell, making inkjet prints involves a lot of work and skill ,quality tools and materials and costs money even before factoring the added value of the photograph itself ! At present, I print all my photographs sold through this site myself, with a high end inkjet printer and printing materials. Printing continues to give me great satisfaction. So if you buy a print of one of my photographs, you can be sure that it was made by me.
(Because I feel some of my photographs need to be bigger than whatI can achieve with my set up , limited to A2 paper, I am looking to collaborate with a lab to make bigger prints. When/if I put those up for sale, I’ll make it clear that I’ve outsourced the print.)
Limited edition prints ? Maybe one day.
Collectors and buyers like the idea of limited edition prints. In photography, where there is no theoritcal limit to the number of precisely identical prints you can make of a photograph, there is no justification for it with respect to guaranteeing a consistent quality of print. On the other hand, limiting the number of prints made, can by reducing the offer, contribute to them commanding an ever higher price if they become more and more in demand.
About limited editions and vintage prints, as David Vestal points out in the chapter “Print Esthetics and Beyond” of his book “The Art of Black and White Enlarging”…there is a danger that the photographer might later on come to a better understanding of an image and be able to make a better print of it but be restricted because held to a limited edition or to the cult of the vintage print. I couldn’t agree more . I revisit my photographs before printing them and it does happen that I interpret them differently. Thus I see no point at present in making print runs in limited numbers. I only wish to sell prints that I am happy with at the time I make them.
So for the time being I am content with giving each of my prints a unique catalogue number( that I write on the back) and with keeping a copy of the file that I used to make it and with providing buyers with a certificate of authencticity that includes a list the materials and tools used to make it.
Prints are physical objects that need to be framed ! ( Or at least kept in a decent presentation box.)
Obvious I know but prints are physical objects: they breathe, have a surface, reflect and absorb parts of the light that fall on them and can present minor imperfections . When exhibited, they need to be hung to allow for an appropriate viewing distance and framed to enhance how we experience them and to protect them.
A print on heavy weight Harman Fiber Based Glossy Paper, printed with Epson Ultrachrome K3 Inks, un mounted in an archival storage and presentention box. Note the framed print above it,:it’s actually one of the rare silver halide prints still in my possession ( most of my “traditional” prints I either gave away or sold ).
I am not in the business of framing my work except for my own use or for exhibits: even then I only mount them temporarily. Framing is a serious craft and rightfully costly when done professionaly. A good print deserves a good frame that will work for it and also protect it. Many photographers sell themselves too cheaply: ironically, the framer ends up making more money than the photographer, creator of an orignal image and possibly, like me, of an orignal high quality print that many clients are less willing to spend money on than the frame they’ll eventually hang it in ! Madness .
So if you’re interested in buying an original print made by me of one of my photographs…..
Just get in touch via email at firstname.lastname@example.org prices from £50( for a print on A4 ) not including handling and shipping