There was a time when the only photographs you could look at that you had taken were printed images. They may have been square Polaroids, 6×4, 7×5 or larger prints, and even passport sized images. They were stored away in photo albums and once in a while they were taken out to view. Inside those albums you’d find images of your friends and families, moments in time captured forever. You’d find photographs of places you’d visited, landscapes you’d admired, music artists you’d watched, random shots of animals and so much more.
In those photo albums you’d have photographs that your parents had slipped in from a time before you were born, and you could study your parents as children, your grandparents and their parents. Photographs sometimes hundreds of years old… Rarely seen… But there to bring back memories.
I’m sure after reading the first couple of paragraphs you’re already realising that the people before you, probably cared about photography, and the longevity of preserving the story of the past, far more than you ever thought. Think to yourself, when did you make an effort to print out your images on this scale? The chances are you haven’t (unless you’re one of the rare breed, like myself, who actually do print digital images and still take 35mm format film images).
For most of us, if we are of a certain age, if we were to lose our lives tomorrow, very few relatives would have the incline of where you store your digital photographs. Even if they have your computer or back up drives, do they have a password if it’s protected? Are all your images raw files, making it next to impossible for non-photographers to view or print? Possibly some will, but even not getting into your laptop or computer because of that password could instantly mean all your images will never be seen again.
And then there’s the old enemy called time. While generations from now can look at your fading, tattered photographs, will they be able to open your digital files as easily as looking at those photos? Will the digital files become corrupt over time? How many have lost files over the last few years because hard drives etc have failed on them?
Benefits Of Printing
If this hasn’t scared you into understanding the importance of printing nothing will! But as well as the significance of historical value, there are some true benefits to printing out your images for yourself, friends and family which we will look at here.
1. You can learn from looking at the printed photo – Yes! It’s all well and good looking at a monitor or your mobile device to look at photos, but when they’re printed they take on a whole new different life. You’ll see things you hadn’t seen before, you’ll appreciate them in an altogether different light. Print a few large enough to hang on the wall, and you’ll really start to understand where you’re going right or wrong as people comment on them, or you just judge it more over time.
2. People will appreciate your photos more – When people look at a digital photo, they have seen so many digital images, they don’t take in what exactly they are seeing. When people see a photograph printed, they can see, touch and smell and have a very different experience.
3. The image lifespan vastly extends – Your digital images will have a lifespan of interest of anything from a couple of hours to a couple of days depending on where they are on the internet. A printed image lasts forever. Your grandchildren will be able to pick up your photo album and admire your images many years after you have gone. Your digital prints will be gone from memory days after you’ve shared them.
4. You’ll understand you rarely need to edit – Editing has become a term synonymous with digital photography for those who think they are more serious about photography than others. Getting it right in camera, and printing the image as you seen it and you’ll realise, that the majority of the time, you don’t need to do anything to landscapes, people, buildings or places. Printing on various film stocks just make things look perfect!
5. You’ll learn to be selective over composition – Similar to the first point, over time you’ll learn which compositions work and which don’t. Seeing your photographs evolve over time, you’ll learn what works as what doesn’t.
What To Print?
We all have different things we want to print, so I’ll just describe what I print out and keep in my photo albums. Firstly, and mostly family, friends and people. The reason for this, it will be interesting for people now and in the future to view. There’s always something about family photos that draws people in, and it’s a historical record of your life. The important thing to me about these photos is that they are totally unedited (by me) and straight from camera. Thankfully shooting Fujifilm, these photographs look absolutely amazing when printed!
Secondly, for my photo albums, I print selected images that I’ve edited of landscapes, buildings, animals and insects etc. I don’t print many of these, just the ones I think people will find interesting, and the ones which offer some reference to a time or a place of possible. I also go over these photos quite regularly and think about how they would look as bigger prints for hanging on the walls
As mentioned, I also print out photos to hang on walls. Anything from A4 to whichever size I feel suits the room that it’s going to be situated. These are normally up on walls for a long time, and when it’s time to change them, they are usually given away to family or friends who have shown interest in them in the past. These larger prints are usually sunsets, landscapes, animals and insects or places.
The Benefit Of Being A Fujifilm Camera User
There are many benefit’s of using Fujifilm mirrorless camera’s, but one of the most beneficial, and the one that attracts so many photographers to the system is it’s ability to emulate older film stock. Fujifilm film simulations are more than just presets for your photos, they processed in your camera and act more like film than many think. They add grain and the colour reproduces as if you were using a 3mm film camera. Because of this, you can simply sent your camera’s jpeg straight to the printer and the final image will be as if you have had a film developed.
I’ve shot in most of the various film simulations, and Classic Chrome, Acros and Provia are my favourite straight from camera, while Velvia and Astia need to be experienced more as I think they have great potential. Also of course, with Fujifilm you can use your own film simulations and when they are printed, they look amazing too!
Regardless of how seriously you take your photography, print out your photographs. There’s literally no reason why you shouldn’t. If you have a printer at home, the quality is amazing these days so no excuse, if you haven’t got a printer, there are plenty of services which offer 50 free prints a month, cheap larger prints, canvases and much more at reasonable prices.
Having your images as digital photos only is a day reflection of the days we live in now. You won’t realise what you’re missing until you print. Even if you only print any special occasions you attend, or one of your favourite photos a month… Get printing and get hooked to seeing your photos as they should be seen. If they’re family photos, keep them real and just print the jpeg, it’s much more fun looking at photos that may not be perfect for whatever reason. If they’re photos of something you’re interested in such as landscapes or sunsets, print them and hang them on your wall and use them to improve and develop your photography skills.
— I’ve been a photographer all my life, printing all my life, taking photos all my life. I’ve done a few years of being a semi-professional photographer selling services and prints, however the last year I’ve taken time out to just enjoy photography, write blogs, give free lessons and run free photography groups. Please support me by following the blog and liking any pages or blogs that you read.
— Special thinks to my good friend Mike Winson for his wise words of wisdom on the importance of printing as opposed to just using digital files.