Why Making Prints is an Important Part of My Art Process

Finishing the Vision: Other Creative Considerations

Fall colors and redrock near a slot canyon along the Burr Trail in Utah
Fall morning along the Burr Trail, Grand Staircase-Escalante NM, Utah

Image capture is the beginning; clicking the shutter captures the moment. It is from here that I begin to mold the light into the vision and emotion that I was experiencing and wish to convey.


In another blog post, I wrote as to why I use the RAW Format to capture the image data. Shooting RAW allows me the most leeway to mold the image and develop my interpretation.


Viewing “finished” photographs on a computer monitor has opened up the possibility of viewing all of the images of the world. Monitors are everywhere - on your phone, tablet, and computer. There are, however, several issues with viewing images on a monitor.


All monitors are different. One screen might be too blue (most are), another too red. What about brightness and contrast controls? And forget about missing color and shadow details! The artist has absolutely no control over what a viewer is looking at unless complicated “soft proofing” methods are employed by both the artist and viewer.


Monitors display color within a given color space. Most monitors struggle to even display the basic standard, known as sRGB, or standard Red Green Blue, which was developed by HP and Microsoft way back in 1996. Today’s inkjet printers are capable of printing colors outside of the sRGB gamut, meaning that there are probably colors and subtleties in the photograph that viewers will not see.


For me, monitors also lack the aesthetic that a physical print allows for; the texture and “feel” of the paper or other media. Paper is a physical thing. It is a pleasure to look at the ink on the paper! Most printmakers (myself included) also take into consideration what type of paper to print on; cotton fiber, smooth, textured, warm tone, cold tone, high gamut glossy are all choices to consider as the artist and printmaker for the finished print. Then there is the matter of scale. Large prints may be the way to go for display purposes, but I prefer something that I can hold at arms length and still see all of the amazing detail that today’s cameras and printers are capable of. 13X19 and 17x25 are probably my two favorite sizes. I personally prefer to hold and look at a print than to see one under glass on a wall.


Making prints is in my blood. It goes hand in hand with using the RAW file format. I was making prints in a darkroom by the time I was in the seventh grade. My Master of Fine Arts Degree (MFA) emphasis was also in printmaking (lithography, serigraphy). Call it old fashioned if you wish but I will take a print on paper any day over the electronic version. Next time you feel good about an image you worked long and hard on give yourself the treat of having it specially printed, or print it yourself!

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