If there was just one thing you could do to make your photography better would you do it?
I would be willing to bet that if you were to print more of your photographs you would put yourself on the fast track to getting better.
When you print you can no longer hide behind any notions that you have about fixing it later in post-production. It is now committed to the piece of paper.
If you print big, you will see just how much you have to improve. Focus, camera shake, little things on the edge of the frame, overlapping subjects, color distractions, framing issues, and a host of other issues come into focus.You can no longer run and hide from them. You can’t skip over them. You are forced to confront your own need to grow and push yourself to get better.
If you print, you learn to see color as meaning, metaphor, and story. You learn how color changes when it is in the print. You can see how colors relate to each other and how they don’t You find out that you see color better behind the camera when you see it in your prints.
You learn to see how black and white images express tonal relationships as creators of not just space and volume but meaning.
When you learn to print, all that stuff that sound scary about color management becomes clearer. You find out that you can get what you want from your images and that words like calibrate and color space are no scarier than shutter speed and aperture once were.
Printing teaches you that you can work with materials to enhance your story and our experience as a viewer of your work. Changes in paper types, surface, and color all shift our way of seeing and experience the photograph.
A print lets you take a grease pin and mark it up. Marking up the image can let you see your crop options differently, X out distractions, circle things that work. Mark dodge and burn locations. They are more real when you can’t Undo. They are more intentional.
Printing puts you a fast track to selecting the images that truly matter to you. They help you better understand your story. They let you see how images sitting next to each other can change and morph into something new.
A print makes the photograph real.