Do you print your photos?

January 11, 2030

Printing As a Professional Photographer

One of the most important – and fun- things I learned how to do in college was printing my own photos to be professionally critiqued. Every detail, every color, every area of the photo had to be perfect. And let me tell you, getting a photo to print exactly the way it looks on the screen or the way you see it in your head can be a bigger challenge than you’d think; or maybe it was the printer I was using. Who knows? Nevertheless, I spent much more time and money on paper than I’d like to admit and really learned to appreciate and love the process. It taught me a lot and actually really helped me with my photography.

The most helpful way printing improved my photography was by getting sick of my photos. Have you ever heard a song and think to yourself ‘Man, I could listen to this song every day for the rest of my life and never get sick of it’… but then 100 listens later and you’re changing the radio station? Same idea. This was the best advice any of my college professors ever game me: Print out your photos, your best picture. Hang it up in your room, in a hallway, somewhere you’ll always see it. At first, you’ll feel proud and say ‘wow, what a great photo’ and you should! But over time, after seeing the same photo over and over again… you’ll just get bored of it. You’ll yearn for something different, something ‘better.’ You’ll start to notice all of its little imperfections, and this is probably the most helpful part of printing.

The best part of looking at your photos every day  is learning what’s not so great about them. ‘This is too dark’, ‘her hair is covering her eye,’ ‘there’s too much space in this corner.’ You’ll start to see small details that you wouldn’t have seen at first glance. These are things you can improve on.

As time goes on, after you’ve printed photo after photo, you’ll start to make better photos while you’re aiming the camera at your subject by paying attention to detail and by having a better idea of what your final product will look like. As I said before, it’s often hard to get a photo to print out exactly how it looks on the screen. Printers use a different color system than cameras and monitors. This can cause some things to turn out slightly different than we see them in the camera. For example, I’ve often found that dark areas will lose detail when printed. Therefore, I’ve learned to open my aperture on location or take advantage of HDR or correctly expose for certain things that may print too dark and combine two different photos in post processing.

Now we come to my personal favorite part of the printing process; the satisfaction. There’s just nothing quite like it. The feeling you get when you’ve finally found the perfect photo, spent precious time editing it, and hold that finished product in your hands is something you can’t get from looking at a computer screen. For me, once that photo is in my hands, it becomes real. It becomes mine.

At the end of the day, I can’t recommend printing your own photos enough. You’ll get a better idea of what the finished product will look like, you’ll learn to pay attention to small detail when taking photos. And the best part of printing-it’s fun, and in my opinion, one of the best motivations to make better photos. 

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