Luminous Landscape is rolling out, with all the dizzying speed of a glacier bounding down its mountain valley, a series entitled "Get Back to the Print." This was launched, supposedly, in response to Kevin Raber's experience with a box of photographs, with the tactile feel, the longevity, the sense of history. It had the potential to be an interesting series, but of course it's turned in to a series of reviews of software and printers. This will presumably allow you to make enormous prints with hyperactive detail and precision color of whatever it is you've shot merely by spending enormous sums of money and time.
You know how else you can get prints?
Any number of online services. The local drugstore, grocery store, department store.
You know what else?
The prints are pretty good. If getting the shade of green to exactly match what you see on the monitor is somehow vital to your vision of your soulless interchangeable landscape, then by all means subscribe to LuLa and start wading through their incredibly boring videos (why they insist on overlong badly made videos full of ums and ahs instead of writing I do not know.) If you can muddle through with a little less precision, consider spending 17 cents a print instead.
Why do I print? I print for a couple of reasons. I print because a physical print defines an endpoint, a place where I can stop mucking around with the picture and call it Done. This is surprisingly important in this era of digital imaging and software. Sitting in front of a computer fiddling endlessly with something, anything, is an incredibly compelling activity and incredibly bad for us. I print also because the physical object has a purpose. I can look at it, I can put it on the wall, I can put it in a book. I am interested in presentation, and the print affords me possibilities for presentation. The computer, ultimately, does not. Yes, I can embed the pictures in an eBook or a Gallery or whatever, but ultimately it's always the same thing: a glowing picture on a screen.
I don't print for longevity, for future generations. I know perfectly well that my children will, at best, treasure a small handful of objects from my life, possibly including a 2 or 3 or 10 photographs. The generation after that will winnow the stash down to 1 or 2, and then it's gone. I am OK with that.
My approach to print and presentation embraces the ephemerality of it all. One of the beauties of the digital world is that it is, at least in theory, trivially easy to bang out a new print whenever I want. My presentations need not be robust, preservation of the physical object is simply not a priority. I don't even need to preserve it for a year, let alone for future generations.
In the following pieces I'm going to break down some details of how I stick things on walls, and how I stick things in books.
Now is the time to step out for a smoke and a coffee if you're not that interested in the details of cutting and gluing.