While the original saying is about pictures and words, I do feel that the printed image has the same relationship to it’s digital counterpart. Online newspapers are superseding their printed cousins, digital maps are available on every smartphone, and the largest way people share their images is through Instagram. I know many photographers who have only ever seen their images on a screen, but to me a print of an image is still very special and always will be.
Prints are special for a number of reasons. In practical terms you know how the image is going to look when it’s printed, as it’s there and you can examine it, digital images look slightly different on every device so you have no real control of how they will look when viewed. Prints also have the tangible element, when I give a model or another person a print it feels more special than emailing them a digital image, and they can also be put on permanent display.
I give talks to camera clubs, and all of my talks are usually with mounted A3 prints, apart from when I was visiting Dublin to give my talk, as I was flying over I could not take my prints due to their weight and bulk and agreed to do a digital presentation. I’d just booked hand baggage, but a few weeks before the talk I got cold feet and realised that I would feel naked giving my talk without any prints, so I calculated how may I could fit in a case and booked a case as checked baggage and filled it with prints! My talk was still all digital, but my prints were scattered around the room for people to see and so I felt much better. I know other photographers feel the same, and fellow lecturer Ross Mckelvey from Belfast even ships his over beforehand when giving his talk on the UK mainland.
Here’s a picture of a few people having a look at some of my prints during the break at one of my talks:
You can only display so many prints around your house, so the ideal way to show lots of images is by making a book, and it’s so much easier now where you can get single copies of books made at a reasonable price. I made my first book in 2010 after I promised a good friend some prints for their new house, and then they didn’t move so I quickly made a Blurb book, and ordered a copy for them and a copy for me. This started a tradition that I have continued every year, I started with 10″x8″ books, and have moved on to 12″x12″ with a single image on each page. One year I even did an A3 book as there was an offer through the RPS. I can highly recommend making a book, both as a great record of your images from the year, something to look back on in the future, a nice way of showing your images to friends who visit, as well as a way of motivating you to edit more images. Blurb also send you discount voucher codes on a regular basis, so I always time my books to coincide with their arrival, as I can generally work out when they will come!
Here’s my previous years books, looking through them is a great way of seeing how my photography had changed and hopefully improved – unfortunately I’m not that imaginative with titles for the books:
I’m currently just finishing the images for another A3 book, I’d hoped to finish the images over Christmas but that didn’t quite work out. Once this book is finished I’ll be doing another Burb book of my best images to date, and as a number of people have requested it I’ll be making it available for purchase online.
Here’s a few of the latest images for the book I’m just completing. I’ve worked with Lulu Lockhart so much over the past 18 months in so many great locations that I wanted to document all our adventures, and also be able to show my gratitude to her by giving her copies of our images in a practical format she can keep.
Hopefully I’ve encouraged any who don’t already to print their images or even make a book, and many thanks to all the models who’ve created all the lovely images that make up my books and prints.