In all my years of printing and teaching printing workshops, the single most important thing…
It never ceases to amaze me how differently people react when they see actual prints of my work versus their initial reactions viewing them online. I often hear similar comments and sentiments such as “wow, so much richer,” or “there’s much more depth,” or my favorite, “I never noticed that [detail, texture, color] before!” Another common thread is that images that were passed over online became much more interesting and engaging once they were experienced on paper. So much so that I often sell prints that originally were not considered at all before the potential buyer visited my studio to view actual prints.
Often I’ll get a call or email from someone who is interested in coming to the studio to see prints because they’ve looked at my online gallery, but aren’t exactly sure what they want. Or more likely in my experience, they really don’t feel comfortable making aesthetic decisions until they see the “real thing.” I’ll ask them if there are any images particular they like, and they usually have a specific few in mind. I’ll show them those prints first of course, but may suggest others that are similar. Or perhaps they’ll see others and want to look at those as well. And with few exceptions, I’ll hear the above comments. Another common one is, “I passed over this one online, but it looks so different in print.” Then they put that one aside as a potential candidate.
And I love this aspect of sharing my work with others. No, not the potential of making a sale, though that is also exciting and very gratifying. But as an artist, what I value is the appreciation of something that I’ve invested time, energy, thought, dedication, and good old fashioned blood, sweat, and tears. Over and over again. It’s not the validation that I seek, but rather a simple acknowledgment that someone else sees what I saw, felt, and experienced, especially in a medium that I think best represents the work, without any compromises whatsoever.
All of this brings me to the real point of this post, which is that printing is a profound way to experience and appreciate photography on a whole new level that many either do not appreciate, or have not been exposed to. This is especially true for those who started their journey in photography in the digital domain, or before high quality archival printing was something you could do in your bedroom. We’ve become so accustomed to the digital nature of everything these days, and I enjoy and love every bit of it. But, we still live in an organic world where we react in very predictable and sub-conscious ways to things we can hold, touch, feel, see in different lighting conditions, and ultimately make a deeper connection with.
The image below is the result of one such encounter with a customer who just had two images in mind to purchase based on what he saw online. As you can see, there was more for him to discover that just didn’t connect with him from his computer screen. All of these are 13″x19″ prints on Canson Infinity Rag Photographique 310, my favorite “emotional impact” paper.
I feel so strongly about printing that I now include two large fine art prints of a students choice with every multi-day workshop. For me it completes the entire experience, and helps reinforce all of what we’ve learned in the field.
My recently announced Digital Fine Art Printing Workshop for June 14th sold out almost over night. I will be announcing another in early July – sign up for the waiting list here to be the first to know.