Here I am sitting down once again at the computer musing over where photography as a business is heading. In a burst of nostalgia I remember sealing off rooms with blackout curtains, emptying bottles of noxious smelling chemicals into various trays, waving my hand under the enlarger to dodge and burn a negative into producing a beautiful photographic print to be hung on a wall, somewhere. The paper of choice at that time was Ilford satin, a lovely finish to a lovely printed picture.
The nostalgia was not for the time consuming process of blacking out the room, or the countless number of prints ruined by dust or hairs floating in the air, not for the terrible chemical fumes, not for the volume of the cursing when a print went wrong but for that final product – it was for THE PRINT.
Several years later things have improved, things have moved on and that is great. We are now used to seeing images, photos every day, instant photos some taken only seconds before they are distributed onto facebook and eagerly devoured by friends. I look at images every day, not just my images but other photographers and I look to learn something, to see what the photographer saw, to see what is in the photo and then I started to think. Do I look at an image on a computer screen differently to the way I look at a photograph in my hand. This is my nostalgia, I believe that I do look at the image differently. I look with more attention at the printed photograph, I linger, it isn’t an instant snippet of internet voyeurism, it is tangible, real, I can touch it, it is something in its’ own right and this I miss. I have just wandered over to one of my many old photo boxes and pulled out a rather large handful of old family photos I had taken a long time ago. I poured over each one, physically picking them up from one pile and placing them down on another. Quite simply the experience of looking at old photos is a different experience than looking at digital images. I was smiling as I wandered down memory lane.
So here I am wondering whether to invest in an upgraded printer to produce and market wonderful fine art photo prints using pigment based inks to keep my wedding clients images looking good for future generations. It will provide another possible media to present the clients favourite images of the day, maybe hanging up in the family home to remind everyone who passes of that wonderful time…… but the question still remains “have people stopped using printed photographs”?