Should we print photographs more?

I’m old enough to remember film and prints. My early life is documented in photo albums and prints in boxes.

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My transition to digital photography was gradual. I was given my first digital camera, a compact, for Christmas in the early noughties (a 1-megapixel Kodak Easyshare that ate AA batteries like there were no tomorrow). I used it for snapshots as I had a film SLR. Two, actually; an almost retired Zenit TTL and a Nikon F60. After a couple of years, I replaced the Kodak with a Fuji F710 – a great little compact that gave me a bit more control and a lot more quality. Sadly, after many happy years together, the sensor died; prompting me to finally consider it was time for a digital SLR. I got the Nikon D90 in late 2008 and never looked back. The immediacy of seeing pictures and not being restricted by the number of shots on a roll accelerated my learning beyond my expectations. I got off of Auto for good and began to think about exposure more creatively.

Another advantage was being able to browse my photographs easily, on screen – I didn’t have to rifle through albums or boxes of pictures to find one I was looking for. It was also easy to show pictures of holidays and occasions, these days I make an album and sync it to the iPad and people can swipe through at leisure (if and when I remember to show them!), or share pictures to social media, or create a photo ‘story’ using Adobe Slate and share the link.

However, the sad thing is I rarely print my photographs. There is a magic about print that’s difficult to explain. A distinct difference in holding one in your hands or looking at one on a wall, as opposed to flicking through images on a computer screen or other device. Is there something more ‘permanent’ about a print (even though they can suffer from light or water damage, or be destroyed some other way)? Do prints make us linger over the image more, make them seem more precious?

I recently updated the prints for our dining room wall (we have a collection of frames there) after thinking for a long time that they needed refreshing. It wasn’t expensive to do (I used an online service) and I resolved to do it more often, in other parts of the house too. It is great to see those memories in physical form.

If you shoot digital, how do you feel about printing your shots? Do you like to display them in your home, or are you happy to keep them as pixels?

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5 responses to “Should we print photographs more?

  1. My shift to digital photography was pretty late, as I wanted to resist the change. after changing over to digicam things changed for good. I print few best pictures after every trip. I have experienced loss of entire album. With medium of storage changing, hard disk crashing etc you can always be sure that print will be around.

  2. definitely yes, emma. especially ultraprints in b&w. i just ordered a 1.80 x 60 cm print for my living room. if you look at it on any digital medium it looks excellent. but on a wall it is just awesome. i spent actually more time working with prints than with digital media in the moment. and i read real books too. gave up reading e-books on my ipad. back to the past. smiles. reinhold

    • Hi Reinhold, sounds wonderful – I imagine the b&w images have great impact in print. I like reading real books too, but I don’t do so much of that these days! Have a great day.

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