The importance of printing your photos in 2023

March 27, 2023

The importance of printing your photos in 2023


As a photographer, I've come to realise the importance of printing my photos. While digital images dominate our world, there's something truly special about holding a physical print in my hands. It allows me to connect with my images in a way that viewing them on a screen cannot replicate. However, there are also some other strong reasons to consider printing your work. I delve into one of my main reasons below.

For years I have been very bad at printing my work, and many of my images have gone completely unseen. In 2022 I started to change this and going forward I hope to keep this change going. I started with images from a series I captured in 2019 in Kerry as I really wanted to see them in print. The rock formation images were captured on Valentia Island and the other image was taken just after sunset on Rossbeigh beach. 

I love how the prints came out, the detail in the water both in the splashing water and also in the soft, milky water in the Rossbeigh image. The vibrancy of the colours and the blues look stunning in print. That left me hungry for more prints and a way I have found to curate the images I might print is by getting small 5x7s done so that I can preview how an image will look before deciding on getting enlargements done. Worst case I have the small prints to keep if they don’t get selected for a large print. 

Printing my photography also gives me the opportunity to express my creativity in new ways. From experimenting with different paper types, styles of mount and frame and also different aspect ratios and sizes. It's a chance to take my creative vision to the next level. And let's not forget about the quality of printed photographs. Professional printing services can produce high-quality prints that showcase the full range of coluors and details in my images. The depth and richness of printed photographs cannot be matched by even the most advanced digital screens.

Sharing my prints with others is also a rewarding experience. It creates a shared experience that digital images cannot replicate. When I see others holding my printed photographs and admiring them, it's a feeling of satisfaction that cannot be matched.

Beyond all this however one of the main reasons I want to analog-ise my work is to archive it and create a physical record. I always have a niggling feeling in the back of my head about the impermanence of digital, or the concept of digital content just becoming lost in the abyss of forgotten hard drives or ill-filed folders. Digital files can also easily get lost or corrupted. Physical prints can be stored and preserved for decades. By printing my photos, I'm creating a physical record of my life, my work and the world around me. I fear that the way in which I have looked back on photographs my Dad and Grandfather shot from many decades ago is going to be lost in the future. People often discard years of photographic memories when they upgrade phones, or they fail to manage their digital files in a manner which will preserve them for the future. This is something that bothers me. I foresee a future where peoples entire photographic existence will become inaccessible or vanish altogether. Old social media accounts may be forgotten or get deleted, hard drives and computers will become obsolete or broken. Cloud services such as iCloud or google photos will perhaps be forgotten or maintained any longer, and worse, accounts such as these may never become accessible to relatives or future generations. Lifetimes of photographs will be behind digital walls so to speak. It is not common practise today for families to keep photo albums. Photos have become fleeting, instantly consumable tokens with diluted future worth. 

Remember that old photo you probably have of your grandmother or another relative, one that you probably found in a box or an old album? I'm sure it means a lot to you. It is probably precious because it is one of few, but because of this it evokes a special feeling. The sheer saturation of photography today may seem to have elevated the importance of photography, but at the same time I believe it has greatly diminished the importance each photo you take will have in time to come. In the future, perhaps descendants will have countless photos of their ancestors, or, maybe they will have none whereby they have all been lost to the digital ether?

In short, printing my photography has become an important part of my focus as a photographer. This might seem like a strange thing to say. Shouldn't that be a thing all photographers are doing? Not necessarily, today I believe many photographers operate fully in the digital realm. As do a lot of the general population who are guilty of snapping pics on their phone and never doing anything with them let alone printing.

I believe that printing photography is not just for professional photographers but for everyone who wants to preserve their memories and leave a lasting legacy for future generations. So, the next time you take a photo that you love, consider printing it. Who knows, maybe one day it will be a cherished family heirloom, just like the photos of our grandparents and ancestors are to us.