Remember when you were growing up…. the future looked bright, the world was your oyster, and you had photo albums of all your childhood memories. If you were like me, your parents would take snapshots of your life: birthdays, family vacations & that embarrassing photo of you as a baby, naked in the tub. Over the years the albums would pile up, gather some dust, until you re-discovered them and would take that trip down memory lane. My how things have changed….
Photo albums have been replaced by computer monitors, digital frames and cell phone screens. Try and find someone, under the age of 40, who carries a photo of a loved one in their wallet. People simply don’t print images much anymore. With digital cameras, people shoot a massive amount of pictures, upload them to the computer, post them to a site such as Facebook, and never go back those files again. While I am all for the “digital revolution”, there have been many drawbacks.
Not only does this apply to your regular family photos, but it also applies to many professionals and semi-professionals. I work at a local camera store and lab where we print both amateur and professional images. I can’t tell you how many times I hear “the color looked better on the screen on the back of my camera” or “what do you mean I can’t print this file 20×30, it looks good on Facebook”. Screen resolution and print resolution are two VERY different things. Many photographers are un-pleasantly surprised when they see their prized image come up, on a properly calibrated monitor, dull and lifeless. Or how soft their image looks when printed 16×20.
You can hide a lot of imperfections on Flickr, Facebook and so on, because the resolution of most people’s computer screens is not much higher than the resolution needed to print a 4×6. Gradations, highlights, and shadow details that you may not see on a computer monitor will definitely show up in a print. Myself and 3 other photographers had a gala showing of forty eight, 20×30 images a few months back. One of the photographers had a few images that had a fair amount of photoshop work done to them. When they saw the images in print, they were quite disappointed to see certain flaws they didn’t see on their monitor and that the images weren’t as sharp as they thought. Now this is also a drawback of some computer monitors, however people who print often are aware of these flaws and correct their shooting or editing technique to avoid them. I should also mention here that the quality of print you will get from the Wal-Marts & Jean Coutu’s of the world is the not the same as you would get from a pro or semi-pro lab. Just like you expect your $15 burger and fries that you just ordered at a good restaurant to taste much better than the $5 value meal you had the other day at McDonald’s.
I could go on and on as to reasons why you should print, but the only way for you to fully understand is to go out and print some images for yourself….