Having someone else make my prints

August 21, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

I am a print maker and print making is what attracted me to photography from my earliest experimenting using “printing out paper” (anyone else remember that?) around 1950.  I did my own neg/pos  b&w and color printing and then for many years used the Cibachrome process which allows me to print directly from positive originals.  The arrival digital imaging and inkjet printing opened a whole new world but the quality and permanence did not approach what I could get using “conventional” printing. 

Very rapidly though printer makers gave us pigment inks, 8 or 12 colors and archival quality paper.  Everything changed. I worked on color profiles, calibrated my monitor and suddenly I could stop describing my prints as “experiments’ and show them as products which could be even better than the old system.  Printing, however, remained an art.  Proficiency with the complexities of Adobe Photoshop, dealing with color space, meticulous print-file preparation, printer calibration, paper choice, lots of mistakes and long experience of how prints would look when displayed made all the difference.  So in the last ten years or so I’ve derived huge satisfaction from making “good prints” and thought of myself as a good printmaker.  I hated the thought of anyone else printing my pictures, somehow I felt I would lose control.

But then I tried letting go just a little.  After all, almost all the creative decisions are made by the time you press the “print” button.  The print file has almost everything already encoded so working with a professional printing lab seemed like a way to avoid buying yet another printer.  I was so nervous when my first lab-made prints arrived.  I don’t know why because I found myself saying, with reluctance but complete conviction “those prints are better than I could have made myself”.

Fishing at Dawn

Fishing at Dawn

Brinsley Burbidge, 2013

The first print I asked someone else to print large (30" x 40".)


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