To print or not to print...
That is the question I thought I had answered ten years ago when I first discovered digital photography. Living in Rapid City, SD I was old school, believing that digital photography could never replace film. Fast forward six months and I purchased my first digital camera. I can't even remember the brand but I do remember it was pistol shaped and also shot video. Bad video. I was hooked, instant gratification, did not have to pay for developing or film. This was the best invention ever! Upon returning to Texas in late 2003 I set my sites on a better camera. In January 2004 I purchased my first "real" digital camera, a Fujifilm S5000, a real competitor to my film SLR's! Full manual control! Long zoom capability! Never have to print a photo again! A couple of years later something happened, I shot a photo of a flower that was blooming in my Dad's flower garden. I loved my shot as much as he loved his flowers so I had a print made, framed it, and gave it to him as a Christmas gift. He loved it so much he displayed it prominently in his living room for all to see. He taught me the power of a print, however I still didn't give prints much thought as the digital world still beckoned to be the future.
My mother-in-law is about as tech challenged as a person can be. Over the years she kept pestering me to print my photos. She just wanted something "I can hold in my hands". I was trying so hard to give her what she wanted but in a new and modern way. First I tried loading photos on her pc but she couldn't find them (she doesn't understand Windows Explorer). Next I gave her a digital photo frame that I would load with new photos each time I visited her. Not sure what exactly happened but something was spilled on it and it quit working. Then I gave her a photo book for Christmas but as small as it was (8"x8") she didn't really like carrying it around. Simple 4x6 prints is all she asked for, it is what gives her the most joy. To be able to carry them in her purse and share with the people she comes across in her daily life.
As the years passed, my equipment and skills have improved vastly. I now shoot with a Nikon D5100 and am learning the finer art of Long Exposure Fine Art photography. I have reflected on these two people and how ink on paper, not 1's and 0's brought joy to their lives. I have learned from them that the pressing of the button is not the end, rather it is the beginning. We has humans have been putting art on our walls for thousands of years, be it cave drawings, Picasso's, or modern prints from a digital camera. A digital photo viewed on a screen cannot enhance a room the way a framed print can. We as humans want to involve as many of our senses as possible, this is what allows the photo to have real impact. A frame adds depth, the feel of paper between our fingers reminds us this is something real. Yes, to print is the answer.
I had been planning to write this for a while but this article in the NY Times inspired me to wait no longer.