For reasons that will be obvious, there is no picture embedded in this post.
I was at a party about a week ago, at a house where a fair amount on art was posted on the wall, and a piece of art that caught my eye was a black and white photograph of a person on an old deserted city street. I was immediately struck by the quality of the print; the tones were liquid and luminous, inviting me into the print; the tonal range was amazing. In addition the matting, framing and overall presentation of the image was top-notch; putting everything together set a tone and mood that said “Stop. Look at this image. And take your time.”
The sad thing is that so little photography is encountered this way today; even drugstore-quality prints are rarely made these days; we are dominated by vast virtual photo albums on Facebook and yes, Flickr. We see photographs on monitors, the backs of digital cameras or maybe a digital photo frame; in every case the experience is lessened, and so many images deserve more.
On Inside Analog Film Radio, I hear the host say every week “You don’t have a photograph unless you have a print in your hand.” A little overstated perhaps, but there is a lot of truth in that statement; if a photograph never makes it past the virtual, how is it ever different from being a mere single frame from the endless digital movie, barely registering as we drink from the fire hose of inline content?
Here’s an idea: select one of your favourite images that you have never printed, and get it printed as a true photographic print (not a run-of-the-mill inkjet) at a decent size, say 11 x 14 inches.
You’ll be shocked at what you’ve been missing.