Or Why It Is Important To Make Prints

A pile of pixels on a screen is not a photograph – at all. It is cold light emerging from a flat surface giving the illusion of a photograph, at least as long as you don’t compare it to a print on paper. I knew that (and know it better after each new print), still I was far too lazy to regularly print my work, even though I have a decent inkjet printer.

Maybe a mayor obstacle to the habit of regular printing is the pure possibility to browse through the archive on screen. Convenient, but unsatisfying. Only watching a print (as opposed to a superficial glance) lets you really experience your photos. A print on paper changes its appearance according to the ambient light, viewing distance, viewing angle and your mood. Watching prints makes you (re)discover your photographic work, find patterns you didn’t know, rethink your understanding of what constitutes the essence of a photograph.

Very obvious advantages of physical prints are that a) you can view multiple prints at once even after b) your computer is shut off, and/or c) spread them around the room and let the set grow on you. By doing this you will discover nuances and subtleties that you could never find on a screen.

So, considering all this, I found Mike Johnstons proposal for a regular print exercise simply brilliant and worth following. The basic idea is to print a photo at a time on a regular basis and improve your skills. For me, the crucial thing is the regularity-part. But a nice side effect is that I can print pictures that I like but that don’t fit any specific or thematic set.

Plus, I started with pictures from my very photographic beginnings in late 2005, and I see that the series of regular prints from this exercise are starting to form a nice track-record of my visual endeavor. So I decided to share them along with my personal lessons learned, which need not necessarily to be related to the techniques and aesthetics of print-making.

Schlitten mit Phantasie Schlitten mit Phantasie

The photo of the sleigh is probably not ideal for a first example (according to Mikes instructions it should be a typical scene, with lots of tones and sharp and blurred parts etc.), but it is my first photo that I really like. It was an overcast winters day and at the time I was not happy that my camera was loaded with tmax 3200 film. But now I find that this film suits the scene very well.

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