Welcome to the digital century. A century, full of technological opportunities: we are now able to learn faster, develop new styles of photography and connect our work to the whole planet with some easy clicks. There is no doubt that the digital shift has been a positive one. Still, we should never forget the value of the "analog" part.
This article is not another digital vs print discussion. It rather outlines the print as an unique result of a digital process. We all love our laptops, smartphones and tablets, but in the end we should reward ourselves with something that has a real value: A lasting print on the wall.
The Digital Process
I already mentioned above, that a print is the final result of a digital process. But what does it exactly mean?
In the first place, we take a picture. We use a DSLR, a smartphone or any other camera to capture a great memory that can be a nice landscape, a family portrait or some spectacular building, it doesn't matter. The rest of the process is digital. We develop the picture with a software like Camera Raw, Lightroom or Photoshop. The digital possibilities are endless. Nowadays, we are able to create own filters and presets to optimize our workflow. And it gets even better: It was never so easy to share your pictures with the whole world: Social Networks, Photography Platforms and Messenger Apps like Whatsapp give you the opportunity to reach thousands of people. It's great!
The Value of Printing
But what happens after you shared the picture? If you got a nice shot, you will receive some likes, nice comments or even a feature in an online magazine. This "fame" lasts for maybe two or three days. After this period, there is nobody who cares about your photo anymore. Do you think that should be the finish line? A lot of work, a wonderful shot, just for this short hype? The answer is no, of course not!
If you are looking to create some lasting value, print your picture and hang it on your wall. It liberates your photographs. There is no scrolling to the next picture, no timeline, no pressure. You can see the value. People will stop in front of your print for minutes. A printed photograph gives you a certain degree of value, that digital files simply can not achieve.
"Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph."
How to print your Photographs?
You made your deciscion, you want to print your pictures. Awesome! The problem? There are hundreds of possibilites to print your shot. You have to choose between a different kinds of prints on paper, aluminium, acrylic glas, HD prints, posters, canvas or even a combination of them. Not an easy decision.
First of all, don't get overwhelmed. Take your time to decide. Think about the purpose of your picture. Are you just looking for a short term print for the next month? Or do you want to have a gallery photo on your wall, that lasts for your whole life? Answer these questions to your self and consider the pros and cons of the different types. A poster won't last as long as a HD Metal Print, but it will be much cheaper. It really depends on your personal purpose.
Another relevant aspect is the size. A big landscape print appears magnificient on your wall, while a small photograph can not even picture all the details of the countryside. But for some shots details are not that important. Or do you want to see all the all the wrinkles and skin blemishes of a family portrait on your wall?
What else is important?
The third aspect concerns the type of your shot. Every picture appears different on various materials. My picture of Frankfurt matches perfectly to a HD Metal Print. All the white parts are aluminium and reflect the lights from my room. The picture gets a shiny look and is a real eyecatcher. The shot of Warsaw fits better to a print behind glas, because it creates more depth. As you can see, it highly depends on the photograph itself and your personal preference.
Last but not least, you need to choose a print shop. There are hundreds of online vendors who promise you "perfect" quality. It's not easy to find the perfect one, but there are two things you should keep in mind. A quality indicator are ICC profiles. They offer you the opportunity to simulate and adjust the colors for your print. The second hint is the quality itself. Before you print an expensive large shot, try to print it in a small format to check the quality of the shop. Another option are free samples, which most of the online vendors offer for free.