Do you hide your work away on your hard drive telling yourself it is not yet good enough to share, but you promise yourself that you will share it when you get better? All I can say to that is be brave – show up! Even if you only post your image on social media… think about that – just how many people will see that post and how many will remember it in two weeks, let alone two months. Can you remember all the images that cropped up on your feed on the longest day in 2020?
In design theory there is a process known as Iterative design, which is a circular model and goes something like this:-
design, model, test, evaluate, modify, analyse
I am a huge fan of this model and apply it to photography both for myself and to my students – I am always telling them best, better, repeat.
To apply that to your photography practice will help your mindset to publish your work – somewhere, some how… maybe you really don’t want to share your work on social media. That is just fine.
Printing as progress and not perfection…
Where do you keep your photographs? How do you enjoy them or do you keep them hidden on your hard drive?
I am passionate about the printed photograph… and love to make prints from work that I have done on personal projects when they come to a close. It is the careful choice of image and the size and then the choosing of the paper it will be printed on. The paper choice can make a huge difference in the final print.
I hear you say that your work isn’t good enough for printing!
Decide it’s good enough and move on. It’s not perfect, not ideal, but damn, it’s pretty good, right?
Good enough to put out into the world.
What about the idea that having prints made by a professional lab is a way of learning and at the same time improving your photography?
I’m not telling you to go out and have absolutely everything printed off.
There are plenty of professional standard labs to be found on the internet, but why not find and support your local printing bureau. Once you have found the right company, then I am sure that they will welcome your interest and direct you how to deliver your work to them and will happily talk you through papers. They will probably have samples for you to take away to consider. Ask questions – lots of. Ask what paper they recommend, ask if you can see your print file on their monitor screen as they will have their monitors colour calibrated to their printers. Your monitor at home may be way off the mark.
To start you off, a small print of say 10 x 8 inches made once in a while will allow you not only to enjoy your work in your hand but also it will become a record of your progress and improvement. Having this visual progress report to me is reason enough to have your work printed. Maybe have the prints made to the same size each time and treat yourself to a lovely print box. Make notes on the back if you want – or simply number them and keep a journal of the details – date, paper on which they are printed and any notes about how you could improve them in the future… in a year, you will be able to look back and see how far you have come.
Another idea to keep you motivated is to make your prints all the same size, buy a frame and keep your latest piece of work framed and hanging on a wall or on your desk next to your computer. Keep updating the frame and keep the outgoing print in your print box, annotated as before. There is nothing like having your work in front of you so prompt you to focus on areas that need work…
Having your work printed may inspire you further and in different directions – maybe you will become interested in building a body of work that is shot for and printed in monochrome.
Once you find your feet in the world of printing, then you will most certainly be wanting to buy a device to calibrate your home monitor so that you are always working with accurate colours. You may also want to start building a body of work that you can have printed out in a larger size and eventually exhibit… Who knows? It may even lead to you investing in your own printer.
Printing as a roadmap – start here.
Where ever you are on your photographic campaign to become a better photographer, you may take inspiration for future work or a particular project if you have a set of say 12 frames to fill… that Swedish home store has a really good selection for just this. Consider a print a month from a body of work that you are building – monochrome prints in black frames grouped together makes for a really strong style. Alternatively you may consider monochrome images with lots of light tones in white frames. You may be a fledgling food photographer – why not work towards a group of four Fine Art food photographs for your dining area? Or a set of calming location pieces with a close colour palette for your bedroom? The list is endless…
One last thing – stop dreaming, stop planning, start printing…
And don’t forget that you can subscribe to my newsletter through the panel on the right here. Not only will you receive a copy of the 33 page eBook The Little Book of Photography for immediate download but also access to The Still Room – a place with lots of goodies for you. I have just updated this space with a new Library section and have put the first book on it’s shelves that takes this post a little further for you…