This Changed My Photography Forever

Whether you’re new or have many years of experience, printing your work can be the most satisfying part of photography. Something you may not realize is how much your work can change after the first impression.

If you break down photography into capture, retouching, and printing, printing has as much weight in the equation as the other two variables. The transition to digital has removed much of that physical interaction and absorption from photography over the past 20 years, which means for someone like me, I’ve never been able to do the experience. There is nothing more satisfying, in my opinion, than seeing your work in print. Witnessing it in a space surrounded by the presence of other tangible things, touching your work in its physical form for the first time as if it now exists in the real world.

Seeing my work for the first time on a wall made me realize how much I needed to start thinking about the print before I even took the picture, and it changed my work forever.

The art of printing

Printing is an art in itself. Consider what you see on your monitor is backlit in the RGB color space. Maybe you’re viewing your images on an IPS LCD panel, or an OLED, or how old is your monitor? Then you take the image you see on your screen and change it to CMYK color space, which means you are now creating colors using a completely different algorithm. On top of that, the paper you use completely affects the look of this image. Bright? Mast? Metal? All of those dark areas that you can make out on a screen suddenly get a lot darker in print because there’s no backlight. This process is an entire industry that you could spend your life learning. It’s great fun to print your own work and learn the nuances of it, but if you’re like me, you just might not have the resources to print your work the way it should.

The good news is that if you want to print your work, you can skip a lot of the technicalities by having it professionally handled and focusing on what’s most important, which is the medium these parts are printed on and the how they will present themselves. themselves in a room. When I started thinking about prints and the rooms they would fit in, it completely changed my perspective on landscape photography. The world of big, awe-inspiring images with insane dynamic range, vibrant colors, or those extremely dark images with hints of light has been around for 10 years.

It wasn’t until I started thinking about how these images would look in a space that it clicked. I started looking at wall art in public places, hospitals, waiting rooms, hotels and anywhere there was art. I started noticing and paying more attention to the types of pieces that were actually on a wall. I wasn’t concerned with sharpness, perfect color accuracy or anything like that. I paid attention to the type of image they were in and how their weight felt in a physical space. It changed my photography forever and I think it’s really important to think about it for your own work.

It changed my photography

When I started thinking about my images for a place on someone’s wall, I started to see my photography change. It’s not like the images I’ve taken that are bright and vibrant don’t belong in someone’s home, but the reality is that they’re far less practical. Think about what your job would look like in the room you’re sitting in. Is it a centerpiece that’s meant to be the center of attention like my photo of the Dolomites you see above? Does the room need something subtle? Something that can grab someone’s attention but can also sit quietly on a wall without needing their attention. So when I sat down and looked at all my work, I realized that the majority of them were more “dominant” pieces. Photos that caught everyone’s attention. Photos that kept people scrolling on social media. Pictures that wouldn’t look good in most rooms.

That was about two years ago and since then I’ve started thinking about my work differently. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still shoot an epic shot if he’s in front of me. But it got me thinking about how the gravity and allure of a scene will handle framed on a wall. It also made me want to know more about the different articles and presentations.

How to find your perfect print

If you log in right now, you’ll be completely overwhelmed with all the print options you have: metal, acrylic, gloss, matte, platinum, luster, satin, and the list goes on. It can be overwhelming. And the only experience I really had was that large vibrant prints such as the photo of the Dolomites I shared earlier would look amazing on metal. But that’s about all I really knew.

So I ordered a few styles of my own images on different types of paper to see how all of these images look on different surfaces and textures. I strongly recommend that you do. Many places offer small packets of different types of paper, but the problem is that it’s not your own image, but it will still give you an idea of ​​the surfaces and the type of print. What I would highly recommend is to take an image you know and have it printed small on 3-7 different types of paper from the same printer and see which medium you prefer. What matters is understanding which papers and finishes look best based on the type of photo you’re printing. This is where the art and exploration of printmaking becomes really important. Choosing the right print media is so important to your finalized image. It can be really overwhelming at first, how are you supposed to know which papers are going to match which photos?

Ideally, I would be a master at this and be able to see a photo and know exactly which paper would fit the needs of each particular image I’m creating. At the very least, be able to print an image on a few different options and pick the one that works best. Living in my car makes test printing next to impossible. So I decided to break down my photos into different categories to try to simplify my prints: images with lots of contrast and bright colors, images with more subdued textures and tones, and images that needed the paper to “shine”. If I could find a document that covered each of these scenarios, I would cover the majority of my portfolio.

Go explore printing!

If you want a full breakdown of how I print on the road, which company I chose in a blind test, and which papers I chose for my own prints, be sure watch the video at the top of this article.

There are many great places to order prints online, and I highly recommend that if you live in a big city, you use local stores for a more convenient experience. Feel free to buy a budget photo printer and try printing the photos yourself. It doesn’t matter who you print by, just print your work! It will change your vision and your view of photography as a whole. The satisfaction I’ve had as a photographer seeing my work in print, only me – no one else has to see it, is leaps and bounds more satisfaction than I’ve ever had from publishing my image for people to see online. I can’t recommend it enough.

Once you define the types of prints you want to create and start putting them on the walls of your home or selling them to your friends and relatives, you will probably be surprised to find exactly the types of pictures that sell. Or you might find that choosing a photo for a specific place in your home might be more difficult than you think. It is these experiences that will kick-start your creativity and the next time you are out in the field, you might start shooting different scenes than you had before just because you think about how beautiful that scene is in a specific physical location.

As always, thanks for reading and I hope this inspires you to get out and print your work if you haven’t already.

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