… or not to print. That is the question.
I picked up the latest edition of my fave photo mag (Black And White Photography ) and it had a short snippet of news that made me sit up and pay attention. Jessops the large UK photo chain commissioned a survey which found that 20% of British adults have NEVER had a photo printed, 8% of British adults printed a photo at least once a month, and a whopping 44% have lost a digital photo they wish that they had printed. Amazing stuff.
It maybe an age related thing, but, I have always liked prints. Even when I shot slide film I had prints made. To me prints are the ultimate expression of my photographic endeavours. I realise that for many people who came to photography post the digital revolution prints are anachronistic hang over from a bygone era, but for me printing is an essential part of the photographic process. I think many people are put off by the apparent complexity of the process – look on the internet and it all looks so hard, but actually it is relatively simple to get good prints. The first step in the process is to profile your monitor – this ensures that are no strange colour casts. I use a ColorMunki Display which is ridiculously easy to use and is relatively inexpensive. For the second step you can either send or take your image files to a lab and have them do the next bit, or like me print your own at home. I choose to print at home because I live in a rural area where there is no local lab, I’m impatient and want to see the results immediately and the surge to print often happens at odd times. I chose a Canon Pixma Pro 100S as it is an A3+ sized dye based printer. I prefer my prints to be on glossy paper and dye based inks look better than pigment based ones. Also dye based printers are less likely to clog. I don’t profile my printer for the paper I use I just use the canned profiles from the paper manufacturers website. The video below shows how easy the whole process is.
Shortly after reading the piece in Black and White Photography I was perusing the BBC website when I came across a piece on the science pages that was warning that the world was facing a ‘digital Dark Age” . Apparently Dr Vint Cerf an internet pioneer and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google (and yeah I had to Google him to find out who he was) has become famous for his predictions on how technology will affect future generations. He reckons that a lot of the digital images created in the early Twenty First Century will be lost as current hardware and software become obsolete so future generations will have no records of the period. I find this ironic considering Google is really pushing Google Photos as an in the cloud archive system. Anyway Google are apparently spending shed loads of money to try to prevent this with some you beaut techno solution. Personally I think the answer is obvious. The one material we know a lot about with regards to its archival properties is paper. In fact I’ve got quite a few family photos that date from the later half of the Nineteenth Century. So if you want to make sure your precious photos survive print them. Use good quality papers and inks and a lifespan in excess of 100 years is easily attainable. The Wilhelm Institute gives archival ratings for most ink and paper combinations and advice on how to store your prints. If you print at A4 then should your digital archive disappear into oblivion with a great deal of wailing and gnashing of teeth then you can scan your prints and salvage the situation.
So there you have it. Now you’re not only making art but you are protecting your precious images from a digital apocalypse.