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Why print your photos?

November 25th, 2022
Digital Photo Printing and Colour management workshop

The print was always the natural end product in the old film days, but now everything is digital so can’t we just look at our images on the monitor?

Of course you can, and that’s a great way to enjoy your photography. But a beautifully made print of a well crafted image is something special all by itself. It’s many steps beyond the image on the monitor, but it can be even more than that, it can also fast track your photography skills.

Supercharge your photography

Printing your photos is one of the fastest and most effective ways of supercharging your photography and post processing skills. When you make a print of your image many factors you may not have noticed come into play.  You will start to see things in the composition or technical aspects of your images that you could overlook when simply posting to Instagram or looking at small digital versions on your monitor. 

2.5m Ipanema Beach 2.5m image being printed on Epson 9900

Those large areas of black shadow, that are insignificant in the small image suddenly become overbearing, and those blown out clouds can no longer be ignored, maybe you’ve missed the critical focus and it’s just behind the subject… Or maybe your composition is too heavy on the left (or right), or a myriad of other (sometimes) subtle components that can make an image excel or fail.

Getting your photos on the wall

And when you put one of your photographs on the wall, and it becomes part of your daily life, your subconscious gets involved and the learning and understanding process steps up a notch, as you walk past and glance at the image many times a day. 

Ipanema Beach 2.5m print finished and on the wall

Pretty soon a print that looked fabulous to you hot off the printer will start to look… not so fabulous. You will have an overwhelming urge to get back to the computer to reprocess it, fixing those disturbing shadows or highlights, reducing that oversaturated foreground, or even to go back to that location and re-shoot it.

Doing what you’ve always done…

This can all sound very daunting, seeing all the things wrong with your images, maybe you are better off not printing, so you never have to face these challenges? Well as the old saying goes, “if you always do as you’ve always done, you will always get what you always got”. So face the challenges that printing presents, or go on doing the same things and getting almost good shots (provided we don’t look too close)?

Eagle Rock Pool at Dawn.  Pilbara Region of WA

Printing will change the way you shoot

There are also many positives to this process, not just the seeming disasters of discovering a bunch of stuff wrong with your shooting and processing techniques. If you choose to face these challenges your shooting skills will grow, especially as you begin to visualise how a print of the scene in front of you will actually look.

You will start to compose images with that print in mind, how the shadows and highlights balance, where is that critical focus point rather than relying on just depth of field, which bits to leave out to give the image better balance.

Bluff Knoll in the Stirling Ranges at twilight

Post Processing for print

And then there are your image post processing skills. Processing for print rather than instagram is vastly different, it’s a much more refined skill where the small details matter. You will start looking at bringing out shadow details where once there were solid black blobs, highlights with fine nuanced detail will become your obsession.

Your images will gain depth and subtlety that will work beautifully in print, yet somehow also look better on instagram too.

The Histogram

Throughout the shooting and processing the histogram, both in camera and in Lightroom (or Capture One, or Photoshop, or Affinity Photo…), is your best friend, and you will find yourself spending much more time looking at the histogram than the jpeg on the back of your camera.

Your photography skills will expand at a rate you never thought possible, and since you are no longer doing what you always did, you will be getting something new, something more exciting.

Digital print workshop

If you would like to understand the process of digital printing better I run a one day digital print workshop in Perth that demystifies the process, you can read about my workshop right HERE>>

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