On top of my framing desk sits what I affectionately call "The Pile." It is a stack of probably 300 or more images that I have printed and thrown on the pile, most of which will never be seen by anyone. But it’s my pile, and I love it.
I don’t believe that any image I shoot is complete unless I print it. There is just something about holding that print in my hand—whether it came from a professional lab or my own printer—that just makes it whole; makes the process complete.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate technology, I’m certainly not a Luddite. I’ve got all kinds of screens, from little ones that fit in my pocket, to various medium-sized viewing devices around the house, to huge ones 50 inches across. And yes, my images look nice, they are full of life and color (or black & white, as may be), but something is just missing.
No matter how I study an image on screen—even at 100%—I always see things in a print that I miss on screen. I get a better idea of the overall tone and brightness, but there is something even beyond that. It’s…the feel. Think of it this way: You can have a thousand dollars in the bank, but doesn’t it feel better to have 10 crisp $100 bills in your pocket? It’s the same amount of money, but one just feels so much darn better.
I get some fantastic prints from some of the greatest professional labs in the country, and those are mostly what I sell, but what I really love more is printing my own pieces. I like the process. I LOVE the papers.
I am always experimenting with different papers, and I like them all—for different reasons. Whether it is the lab look of Canon Pro Platinum, or if I want something that has more of a textural feel, I will try other things. For some of my less-contrasty monotone images I may try a Photo Rag paper like Moab Entrada Rag Bright, and I love the feel of it—smooth, yet a tactile quality to it. If I am printing one of my HDR images, I can’t wait to print them on a coated paper like Hahnemühle FineArt Baryta, I get dizzy just thinking about it.
If you don’t know what you may like, there are some good sample packs, like the Hahnemuhle Matte Sample Pack, so you can try a couple of sheets to see what works best for your images.
So I encourage you to start your own “Pile”. Touch your art. You will not regret it!