This morning while I was enjoying my morning bowl of mush and reading the Wall Street Journal I came across a wonderful article on photography. It had me on the first paragraph:
Ansel Adams, a piano prodigy before he picked up a camera, once declared that the photographic negative was like a musical “score,” while the final print was akin to the concert “performance”.except from What does Art Look Likeby Richard B. Woodward
This brought me right back to a conversation I was having with a friend about the pros and cons of printing your own work. Yes, printers are a pain in the ass and the ink expensive. Yes, you can send your files out and get a perfectly serviceable image back. But if you want to take your game to the next level there is nothing to compare to making minor and major edits to a print based on seeing a proof come directly out of your own printer.
When the world was only shooting in black and white it was not uncommon to have a dark room in your own house. With the advent of color printing this became unfeasible and most photographers where content to send their film to a lab for printing. Now with excellent inexpensive printers (a relative statement I know) plentiful, it seems a shame to send out what can be done easily in the comfort of your own home.
I’m not usually a control freak, but I find it indispensable to see what my images look like off the screen before I deem them worthy of showing and selling. Light, color, shadows, highlights all look different and once the image is on paper. I will often see corrections that need to be made that I could never have foreseen by looking at a screen.
So call me old school, but I agree with Ansel Adams and feel that to fulfill your potential as an artist you need to print your own work.
In further defense of printing, if I had not enlarged this image myself, I would never have seen the spider climbing on the rock. This is a detail that can only be seen at A2 or larger. In my opinion this small detail makes the image.