Wednesday, June 09, 2010

In Defense of Printing

When I began photography I was unsure about making my own prints. I found it a difficult and expensive process. This had more to do with my objectives rather than the difficulty of the process or the cost of the materials. I was continually interested in raising the quality of each new print, an objective I still maintain.

Shortly after beginning photography I became friends with Minor White. He convinced me of the value of making one’s own prints. His principal argument was that it was a contemplative process, where one would learn to take better photographs from printing, as well as think about photography as art and what that meant while being engaged in the activity of making prints.

A few years later I met Aaron Siskind. During our 10 year friendship we talked lots about printing and I got to see how his individual prints were the process of experimenting in the darkroom rather than just trying to mechanically reproduce the negative.

I realize that many of today’s most important photographers do not print, have no plans to print in the future and still produce eloquent prints with the help of a staff or a professional lab. I don’t think it is necessary to print to be a real photographer.

But if the choice of printing is made, the options today are pretty amazing. One paper in particular has got my attention – Epson Watercolor Paper Radiant White. This paper seems to work well on a variety of printers. What I am seeing in classes is students experimenting with this paper using inexpensive HP printers, as well as other printers, mostly the type of printer that is often thrown in for free when buying a new computer. The best results are from high end Epson printers, as would be expected. But the results from inexpensive printers are pretty impressive. This paper may damage the printer over time, but is this really not much of a concern with an inexpensive printer. This seems to be a worthwhile starting point for anyone who is new to making their own prints.

© 2010 Paul Light all rights reserved


Blogger Katarina Silva said...

I love seeing photographs in print! Is there any INternet printing service you would recommend?

3:49 PM  
Blogger Paul Light said...

No - but there is a lab I am very impressed by that I imagine accepts online orders

4:20 PM  

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