Thoughts on Life, Art, Photography, Technology, Teaching and Travel…..

The Photographic Print

I never really thought about the “Thingness” of the actual printed photograph before taking A.D. Coleman’s online workshop on Photo Criticism. The term “thingness came out of one of our skype discussions on photography. Since the digital era the photograph has been displayed, shared and transmitted digitally without ever making it to printed form.

The print used to be the final step in the photographic process before matting framing and possibly exhibiting. This is still occurring no doubt, but a new generation of photographers and even many older photogs like myself and viewers of photography have other options and avenues for using, viewing, appreciating and analyzing photographs besides making actual prints.

So what about this THING we call the print? In gaining all these new creative venues (outlets) for showing / sharing photography, has the print been relegated to an after thought or more commercial realms?

Photography is now shown prolifically on blogs, social networks like Facebook, sent via e-mail and twitter and yes is still exhibited in galleries and museums in print form, however is the mystic behind the actual printed image fading?

I am speaking for myself as well. I create many images with my cell phone, point and shoot and Canon 5-D that are posted to my blog, but never get printed. Does the viewing experience change when viewed from a computer screen or cell phone? I personally think so!

Is there a real difference between looking at an actual print and the same image posted on the web in digital form? Photo Educator Tom Finke a fellow colleague taking A.D. Coleman’s online workshop stated “Our students when they graduate are required to have a book (or books) of physical prints that are part of their graduation requirement. They always ask why; why not just an I-pad with their portfolio on the screen? The reason is because we can’t touch them (the prints), really see it and understand the choices you made with regards to presentation, materials, tone, color, etc. I may be a bit old fashion but give me a print to hold and look at any time.”

Tom Braswell at Gray Gallery ECU by a John Scarlata Print

So yes…photography is rapidly evolving and many of the changes in the medium are great and exciting, however I must admit to missing the “thingness” of the printed photograph. More food for thought…


4 comments on “The Photographic Print

  1. souldiaries
    June 12, 2011

    i started photography with film, and used to develop prints in the old dark rooms at newspapers. i miss the whole sensory experience from loading the film to the smell of chemicals and hanging pix up to develop. but i guess it is a bit like choosing to use a typewriter as opposed to a computer to write a story. one is just so much easier and better to work with…(thanks for bringing back the print for a moment, i miss them)

  2. keoughp
    June 12, 2011

    There was something absolutely magical and mysterious about the entire darkroom process to me. It is certainly a powerful sensory experience and one I will never forget. I spent many years working and teaching in the darkroom but now I have migrated to the digital darkroom “computer lab” not only because of the technological shift in photography but for health reasons. I like your analogy with typewriter vs. computer.

  3. dawn
    June 16, 2011

    there is nothing like that sacred experience of printing an image in a darkroom….the smells of the chemicals, the timing, ….all of it. and although the digital age has definitely changed the way we produce our art, i think it definitely has brought an exciting element to photography and imagery. i can tell you that printing out my images now, even though not in a darkroom, still has such an exciting feel for me….there is nothing like seeing your image printed before your eyes and holding it in your hands… i think it’s important for us to print our images regularly because it heightens our awareness of our art…that it is visceral, tangible and meaningful.

  4. keoughp
    June 17, 2011

    Yes Dawn there is definitely something magical and mysterious about the old darkroom. So very different than the clean, sterile digital printing most people do today. I don’t get in there much anymore, but when I do its like stepping back in time. The traditional printing process is like taking a step back to the roots of photography and that’s what I like about it along with being able to make “real” tangible pictures. Its one of the things I love about photography.

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This entry was posted on June 12, 2011 by in Keough Journal, Photography and tagged , , , .
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