On Printing

Photo by Jason Roberts Dobrin

Not sure how many people are actually making prints in these modern times, but I thought I’d say something about it. I was blogging about how writing is helping me read better and vice versa, and it reminded me of how printing helps my shooting technique and vice versa.

The intended output for photography has always been for print. You would finalize your prints in the darkroom and then send it off for reproduction in a newspaper, magazine, or book. I was taught that the final print was everything. And to get that final print right, you had to expose and process your negs properly. In fact I had a lot of assignments in school where I had to turn in negs to prove that I was using my camera correctly and properly processing my film.

Eventually when you’re printing a lot and fixing things in the image, you start to realize you can fix certain things in camera when shooting. And when shooting a lot, you realize you can fix certain things when printing. And this is the ongoing cycle of life in photography.

Nowadays you would say “files” instead of negatives and “Photoshop” instead of darkroom. I process my edits in Adobe Camera Raw and finalize it in Photoshop and am constantly making zines and prints. Specifically, I will make some prints and get my stuff right before I drop them in Adobe Indesign to make a zine or book. And I guess this message is for those of you that don’t. I am trying to say if you want to level up consider making some 8×10 prints, hang them on the wall, and stare at them. Find out what went wrong and what went right. Your shooting will shape up and your photography will benefit.