Create: The Importance of Print

I was fortunate. I came up in photography during a slower time. There were real budgets, no Internet, no mobile phones smaller than a toaster oven and let us not forget the innocence of the pager. Print was the focal point of our photographic lives. (It still is for many of us.)

92-pages of $20 photographic bliss. Can’t imagine NOT printing a project when it is complete.

Today we leave in the Digital Age, and if your life as a photographer is spent in the online space you may or may not know about print. You may not know that in the actual, professional photography world print is still very relevant. In fact, some would say it is as important as ever.

Print cuts through the noise. Print shows you can edit, sequence, design and encapsulate and it shows you can apply critical thought, extended critical thought to your work and the context in which you thrive or survive as an image-maker.

Every single serious photographer I know wants a book deal. Every one. Some will get one, others won’t but it won’t stop the pursuit. I’ve never been one to draw lines in the sand. Nope, I leave that to amateurs. The smart photographer uses everything at their disposal, picking and choosing on a project by project basis.

As for print, I have many thoughts.

16 Comments on “Create: The Importance of Print”

  1. Long live print. I’ve incorporated print into my life by producing a quarterly Blurb zine that centers around documenting my family. The zine is sent to family members along with one hero print from the quarter. Great way to keep in touch and forces me to shoot, print and share.

    Loved the video Dan.

    1. Tracy,
      My next film is about photographing family. In it, you will see the book I made with my mom. Great idea.

  2. Dan, you’ve made three key points on printing: 1) as an aid for laying out physical photos for editing and compiling a magazine, 2) making postcards (mailing, marketing, etc.), and 3) bringing the images into physical reality (exhibition, marketing, archiving, etc.). Please talk about appropriate printers, costs, footprint, etc., particularly for us serious amateurs who are choosing between buying a lens or buying a printer. And please keep these communiques coming!

    1. Alan,
      Many more on the way. I’ll add your asks to my list. And your spots are correct. Thanks for writing.

  3. I recently made a small magazine of a hiking trip using Fujifilm Japan (Blurb shipping costs are too much for me) and the speed, cost, and quality blew my mind. Made me realized that I should be making one after every photo trip/hike.

    1. Sean,
      Shipping is a MAJOR issue for anyone, even for Blurb which has an international network of printers. It’s daunting. And yes, you should!

  4. Hola Uncle Danno!!

    Been a long time. All my free time has been (and continues to be) dominated rebuilding our cabin after a huge flood (which I think I told you about) so haven’t had ‘free internet time’ in my schedule for over a year. Up early this morning and had time to catch on your site. Always inspiring and interesting and I thank you so much for keeping us all grounded with your thoughts.

    Even though I am just a hobby guy this post really resonated with me. I recently took a good wack of my photo books and prints to show to a group of neighbours I have gotten to know better up at our cabin…mostly people older than me. It was very interesting to witness the quietness of everyone as they (I felt) became truly engaged when viewing my work…no quick page turning like a magazine in the doctors office. So much more satisfying than sitting beside someone while they scroll through pictures on a laptop or (uggh) a phone.

    Keep on, keeping on brother.


    1. JT,
      LONG time. Flood, that sucks. But you Canadians have been hogging the water for years so maybe you deserved it? Or not. I’m guessing we invade soon anyway. Looking at images on a phone is so bad I’m really at the point where I have to get jerk-like and just say “No, I’m not going to sit here waiting for you to scroll through 800 images to find a sub-par image of your vacation.” Nothing worse. I am loving the Zine concept. Inexpensive, simple.

  5. Hi Dan, I’ve heard you speak about this project in a number of interviews online. I’d be really interested to see a hard copy, is it available to order?
    best wishes

    1. Hey Nigel,
      I’m an oddball. I really make no effort to sell anything I’m doing. In many cases, the reasons I make publications like this is solely to walk other photographers through how to do it. Why this is inexpensive, strategic, entertaining, etc. I always tell people, “Don’t buy mine, take the money and make your own.” I am returning to Albania to teach and to build on this story so there will be an update something in spring 2020.

  6. Shifter and Shifter readers – know of any concise topical forums related to printing books and zines? I’m using InDesign for the first time. I’ve definitely made a few mistakes that I’ve had to backtrack on. It’d be nice to know of a good place to exchange some ideas / tips.

    As an example only (no need for anyone to answer this), I just started over on my first Magcloud digest. I’m going for keeping it simple. To get symmetrical single images on opposite pages, I’m creating a rectangle frame, placing the image, and then fitting the content to the frame proportionally. I’m sure there are faster, easier methods.

    1. Scott,
      There are MANY small forums about photobooks. There is Photobook Club from the UK which now has locations all over the world. And, every major design organization has illustrated book related material. Also, history of the photobook volumes 1,2 and 3 are classics.

      1. Perfect, thanks! I’m almost done with my first test digest. My eyes feel like they’re going to pop out. I’m sure it gets easier and faster.

        1. Scott,
          It does in some ways, the feel, but perhaps not the design understanding. Always a challenge but it gets more fun.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *