Why Printing your images will make you a better Photographer.
When I first started on my photographic journey I only got to see my images once they were printed. It was invariably a feeling of excitement and trepidation as I collected the little envelope with negatives and prints from the chemist.
Admittedly the sense of excitement was all too often followed by disappointment when I discovered that what I thought were carefully composed and metered images were in fact often riddled with errors, focus, exposure and composition. It was an expensive hobby… Occasionally there were some nuggets, and these often ended up as larger prints on the wall.
The advent of digital cameras and in particular the DSLR means we no longer have that delay between taking and seeing, the feedback is immediate. ‘Chimping’ images means we can fiddle with settings, alter the composition, reset the zoom, and reshoot, but only if that ‘decisive moment’ hasn’t already disappeared.
Once we are happy with the image the very brave might post it on Facebook or Instagram, yet the image is rarely seen larger than a phone screen or an ipad at most. If you only ever see your images thru social media, the compressed file size may well be hiding potential issues such as focus, exposure, and lack of detail. Its worth noting that the number of ‘Likes’ you get is not an objective measure of quality!
On a large format print there is no hiding place for these errors, the quality of your image will be exposed for all to see. If you set out to take pictures with the intention to print them, you are likely to be more selective in what and how you shoot, to take more time, and consequently improve your technique and knowledge.
Processing your images for print rather than the web will also improve your skills and understanding of what makes a high quality image. Controlling highlights and shadows takes on a new significance when they’re not backlit on screen but printed on paper.
Perhaps most importantly, printing your images allows you to share them in a more tangible way with family and friends. Having your favourite images as framed prints or canvases on the wall instead of buried on a hard drive, might just be the justification you need for all that investment in camera gear.