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.
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.
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.
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.
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.