4 Compelling Reasons To Print Your Photos

I can’t flat-out state that printing is a lost art; there are beautiful photos being expertly printed on a regular basis, but prints are no longer the go-to medium for viewing photos. Why would they be when you can have an ultra hi-def screen in your pocket to view photos on? Makes perfect sense to me.

But even as someone who enjoys looking at photos on a screen, I still have a deep appreciation for the printed image. I’m really not trying to twist any arms here, but I want to present a few thoughts that will hopefully inspire you to print more of your photos.

Prints Represent The Ultimate In Creative Control

Monitor calibration is a topic that many a photographer has obsessed over, something that indeed needs to be addressed if you care about things like color accuracy. But even if your monitor is calibrated, that doesn’t mean everyone else’s is. Given all the screens/monitors out there with all manner of different settings applied to them, the look of your photo is going to vary from screen to screen. This isn’t an issue with a printed image; when you print, you remove all those variables and create a way for everyone who sees your photo to see it the way you originally intended.

Photo by Jenny Hill on Unsplash

Prints Provide A Greater Degree Of Detail

I’m not necessarily referring to conventional sharpness. Anyone can increase image sharpness in software, and every popular mobile device in the world is equipped with a sharp, state of the art display.

A print, however, provides a deeper look into the nuances of a photo — the contrast and tonalities and textures. Even the medium you choose for your printed image (paper, canvas, metal, acrylic, etc.) contributes to the particular look of your photo, something for which there is no digital equivalent.

Photo by Jean-Philippe Delberghe on Unsplash

Prints Allow The Viewer To Bond With A Photo

A print is static in comparison to the digital experience. When you look at a print you’re more likely to spend some time with it, reflect on all that you see in the photo, perhaps try to put yourself in the mindset of the photographer (or, if you’re the photographer, recall how you felt when you made the shot).

Of course, a captivating photo is a captivating photo regardless of how you view it, but mobile devices and social media cater to short attention spans; most people won’t spend as much time looking at one photo on their phone as they would if that same photo were hanging on a wall or printed in a book.

Photo by Sarah Dorweiler on Unsplash

Prints Are Satisfying

To assert that prints are satisfying probably rings hollow at first, but there’s really no other way to put it. The tangible nature of a printed photo — the feel of the paper, placing the photo into a frame, hanging the frame on a wall — provides a pleasant escape from the pixel-based universe we spend so much time in. It’s fun to share photos on social media and email them to family members, but there’s something uniquely gratifying about making a print for someone.

Photo by Squared.one on Unsplash

Final Thoughts On Why You Should Print Your Photos

There are many other reasons why you should print your photos — the risk of “digital rot,” potential file type obsolescence, to serve as a backup to your backups. Those are all legitimate and pragmatic reasons. But this is photography we’re talking about; photography is a creative pursuit and it’s nice to have creative bases for continuing to make prints in the digital age.

Do you print your photos? Feel free to share your reasons with us.


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About the author

Jason D. Little

Jason Little is a photographer (shooting macros, portraits, candids, and the occasional landscape), writer, and music lover. You can see Jason’s photography on Flickr, his Website or his Blog.

  • Kent DuFault says:

    I love printing my photographs. I also hang the photographs of others. I purchased a Steve McCurry print that hangs in our bedroom. My problem is I have run out of walls. So now I have to start rotating. Not a bad problem, I guess. 🙂

  • I am a portrait photographer, shooting a lot of family portraits in a vacation destination. I have found an incredible decline in not only print sales but a general disregard for the NEED for a print.
    My #1 question used to be: “do you do those large prints on canvas?”. earning 20X30 or larger.
    Now my #1 question is: “how will these shots look on my phone?” As they use the universal hand symbol for scrolling.
    Even my regular yearly clients no longer replace the big print over the mantle.
    There must be a lot of naked walls on the mainland.

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  • Summerfields says:

    I like my digital privileges as much as anyone — witness: my website — but besides the unfortunate fact that every manmade device breaks down, one day we could even find ourselves without the power we have today, then what are people going to have? Our photographic recordings can easily be lost to the wind, and I already realize that my digital files will disappear when I’m not here to keep them backed-up any longer. They may not be Da Vinci’s, but I can’t imagine leaving my art, or precious family photos, to such presumption. I believe in keeping one hand on what’s great for today, but the other hand on Classic Tradition. My walls are covered in it, and hopefully it will all find good homes when I’m not here any more. Print it!

  • SteveO says:

    As a child I loved perusing old photos stored in boxes and albums. I print today to leave an archive for someone else to peruse in the future.

  • Cfife says:

    Printing keeps the “pixle peepers” from peeping. Nothing us worse than showing someone an awesome photo.. and the first thing they do is pinch and spread. You know what im talking about.. and we all have “pixle peeper” freinds. When i have a photo I really love .. I Print.

  • D. Russo says:

    I find that people who are educated in photography or are photographers themselves are the ones who appreciate a well executed print. When I am asked the question – will it work on my phone – I usually launch into a discussion about how technology becomes quickly outdated and all those beautiful photos you took years ago are now lost and never to be retrieved. A photo is a legacy. It is there for all to see and know that YOU were here and YOU were beautiful or handsome and loved life. Relatives begin to see the importance of having a photo of grandma and grandpa – or even photos of their small children as they are growing.
    A photo is love. Not just a black and white or color spot on the wall with a frame around it. It is framed with importance.
    I was a yearbook advisor and photographer for a high school annual for over 7 years. One year the students wanted their entire yearbook on a CD. It’s years later…how many of you play CD’s now?? Does your computer have a CD player? Isn’t it easier to put it on a USB? Oh wait…that technology will be outdated soon too. And there goes all your memories, your photos, your treasures.

    Still want to do just digital? Think about it.

  • Diane says:

    I absolutely do print my photos, both in print and in photo books. I’ve also written multiple blog posts encouraging others to do so. Without a print ‘in hand’ our photography is no longer permanent or, as it was intended, a tangible art. Great blog post.


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