Just one thing to be better

Written by Daniel Gregory

February 20, 2015

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.

File Feb 20, 1 54 37 PM


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.



Affiliate Links

This website may use affiliate links. This means when you purchase something through links marked as affiliate links (usually noted by a *), I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products and services that I personally use or have tested.

New Course at KelbyOne

You May Also Like…

Questions to ask yourself and others about photographs

Questions to ask yourself and others about photographs

In a follow-up to last week’s podcast on the value of interviewing others and yourself about photography, this week we talk about some possible subjects or ideas to consider when planning your interview. I always recommend that you start with the work. Look closely at the images and projects someone has created to get focused. Think about what you want to know about how the work came about, what they learned from the work, and their approach. As long as your asking questions that focus more on the why and awareness of the images and projects,  you really can’t go wrong.

The power of the photographic interview

The power of the photographic interview

One of my favorite exercises I use to teach photography and learn about my own work is called the interview project. This process involves you doing enough research about a photographer you are inspired by or want to learn from and then create a set of 10 to 20 interview questions that you would want to use to interview them. In some cases, you might be lucky and be able to use those questions to interview the photographer. Still, sometimes they might no longer be alive. Either way, part of the process is to answer those questions as if you were the photographer. This will help you get some insights into how you might approach the work. You then use those same questions, slightly modified to fit your work, and then interview yourself.
The podcast this week walks you through the process and so possible insights you might be able to get with a simple little exercise that gives you big rewards in understanding your own process and work.