Today, when I got home first prints from my Toronto Unknown collection have been waiting for me in the post. I always print at The PrintSpace as their quality is stunning, service excellent and prices moderate. And I always use giclee prints on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag paper. It has a beautiful smooth matt surface, great tone definition and is excellent for B&W. But that’s not what I want to write about. The thing I do want to write about it the amazing feeling I always have when I open the envelope and hold the prints in my hands for the first time. Every time I do that I realise again and again how big a difference turning a digital image into a physical print actually makes. A photograph in its digital form is indeed great for archiving and sharing. But only when it is printed it can reveal its full beauty. Only when an image gets a physical form can one truly appreciate the full spectrum of emotions that it creates with the viewer. I keep telling to myself to print more. Despite the fact that I have nowhere to put it I even considered buying one of the excellent Epson printers to be able to print at home. Having a real print of my work allows me to appreciate the elegance and potential of photography as an art discipline.
If this was 20 years ago, such a sentiment would make no sense - ‘Of course you need to print, how else do you want to see what you just shot?’ But with digital photography people started shooting more and printing less. You might say there’s no reason to print so much anymore as all is available on a computer screen. But boy, what a difference it makes. A print not only allows you to finally see the image in a natural reflected light (as opposed to monitor backlight), but also you can mount it, you can put it in a frame a present your work at its best. I would even go as far as saying that the creative photographic process that starts in photographers head is finished ONLY when a physical print is made. Yes, such assertion would mean that a digital image that so many of us operate with on a daily basis represents still only an unfinished product. As harsh as it may sound, I think that’s exactly what it is. Printing is simply the grand finale of every creative photographic process.