Friday, December 20, 2013


I tend to go on and on about how digital photographs, social media, most-recent-first viewing, and so on have changed our relationship with pictures. We treat them as temporary and ephemeral.

Recently I was asked "well, what about prints?" and I have to say I have no idea!

It is said that we're making more prints than ever. As a percentage of photos shot, it's dropped off to so close to zero as to make no difference, but in absolute terms we're making more prints than we ever have.

Surely many of these are local drugstore prints, not necessarily very good, but exactly equivalent to the old school business of dropping off a roll of film and picking up an envelope of prints an hour later, or the next day. Probably these are a little better, overall, since we're generally selecting the pictures we want before ordering prints.

Surely many of the prints we're making are in the now-ubiquitous photo book. Everyone on earth, it seems, is running a business to print books of pictures. Some of them are pretty bad, others are pretty good. They mostly let you do a little book design, so the results are usually pretty awful, most people not being book designers. Still, there's a lot of these things being churned out. Surely we give a little more weight to a Book than to a handful of slippery prints?

I know how my family treats these things, but I can't take that as typical. I don't even treat my digital/online pictures in a typical fashion. I print, frame, and hang pictures. I make nice books of the very very best pictures, which books we take down and look at several times a year. But we're atypical.

I don't know what typical is, on this point. But I'll keep my eyes open for analysis and discussion! Maybe someone knows, or has an idea.


  1. At $80.00 to $100.00 a box of 100 sheets 8x10 fiber paper, I think my printing days are numbered. Too bad as I was hoping to catch up on the last forty years, but then why? It all goes under the stairs and with the astounding number of us these days, even the fantasy of posthumous discovery fades. This has become an absurd activity that offers mostly the discipline of advancing ones capacity for finding the reward in the activity and only that.

  2. Honestly, I think the whole thing has to be an exercise in pleasing yourself. If you ever think you're going to sell these things or put them in museums or whatever, you are (mostly) kidding yourself and (definitely) letting yourself in for a lot of hard work. If what you really want to do is marketing, then go for it. If you just want to make pictures, your best bet is to just do that. If that includes printing, great. As noted, it costs money, but what hobby doesn't?

  3. yup...I reckon so. Good to get that young and not spend all that time in school, assisting, shlepping, modest success, bundles of wasted cash on galleries, and then finally obliterated by the web.My perspective of it was that transitional period of genuine possibility to a full blown reorientation to this democratized version and remarkable explosion of talent. Relevance is not possible and so it seems I have a "hobby". Still I suppose it's a good thing to burn off all that small self ego hang-up.