Recently I was printing some of my images in a local photo-shop, which also runs a tiny gallery at their premises. They liked my images and ask me to display some. Since I have not had the experience with printing and framing larger formats, other then for my home, I decided to give this a go.
Step One: Picking
Since the gallery is small and space is limited, I decided to go for 10 prints, 30×40 cm. First step was to look at the work I’ve recently done and decide on theme of the exhibition. For a small showcase like this one, I wanted to choose a connecting topic, a theme which would cut across all pictures displayed. Working in B&W, this step was already decided for me. To take it further, there were few questions I had to answer first:
Is it going to be abstract street photography?
Is it going to be architecture?
Is it going to be portraits?
Will I mix all of the above?
Eventually, I decided to go for something I’d call “abstract human minimalism”. I don’t know if this is a term or not, just made it up :) . What I mean is, the compositions are simple with clean leading lines and usually a silhouette or some sort of human element included.
Having this narrowed down, I was left with about 15 images and the task to choose 10. I printed them small and kept looking at them every now and then for about two weeks. I wanted to know how they will “speak” to me when displayed next to each other. I also wanted to figure out the layout – where will each image hang? Which picture is next to it? What is the relevance between them? Am I communicating a story by placing them in a certain way? …maybe I was putting too much thoughts into this :) Eventually I decided for 13 images, placing 7 individually into a frame and 6 paired. All in all, 10 frames. More on that below.
BTW, if you shoot both colour & b&w, then there are more decisions to make. Showcase only B&W, only colour or mix them up? If going colour – you can look into individual colours, how they will be displayed up on the wall and so on.
step two: Printing
Before I went to my print shop with pictures on flash drive, I had to prepare them for the right size and display. I would categorise this into two steps.
Step one: Editing
Going back to all the pictures and re-editing them. Since the time I shot few of these, my editing technique and style changed ever so slightly, so I wanted all the pictures to have the same look & feel. Moreover, I had to size them appropriately.
Step two: Sizing
After having edited all the 13 images, all there was left was to export and print. Since I use Adobe Lightroom, exporting is very easy. Moreover, my print shop provides exact pixel count for each image size which is used by their printer, so setting up the size was easy. You can do the same with mm or cm or any other metrics corresponding with the size of the image you want. For the final print I also decided to export and sharpen for matte paper, highest, 100% quality with 320 dpi (also suggested by the print shop)
Tip I: if you will be printing images in your local print shop, go there first and ask for the right export settings. They should be able to tell you all the details of what you need to know and how to prepare your images before submitting them for print.
Tip II: make sure you measure your frame before printing the images. I almost made a huge mistake. Let me explain: I purchased frames for 30×40 cm prints , therefore I automatically assumed this is the size of the prints I need. An expert in my print shop pointed out that this might not be true and she was right. I measured the frame and the size was 29×39 cm with few mm difference here and there. Should I have printed in original size, quite a lot of my compositions would become hidden inside the frame.
step three: preparing
Having returned with prints under my arm, last part was to prepare the images and insert them into frames. This experience is soooo rewarding! Seeing the pictures printed in top quality, on a very nice paper and framed, is an experience each photographer should have.
I carefully inserted each print into the frame, wiped it down to remove dust and carefully stored and prepared everything for the next day, when I went to the gallery to set up the exhibition.
Short video of how all of the above went down is here:
3 reasons to print photos
During this process, I realised the benefits of printing the images, specially when using larger format than a small photo size. I decided to list three most important to me below…
Seeing pictures in different shape and form than on PC or mobile screen is an experience by itself. It has shown me, that pictures I considered good or nice, were in fact, amazing when printed large. The detail and paper quality, feeling the image in own hands, working with it and hanging it on the wall at home or in gallery, inspires me so much more to go out and produce more art.
When I publish my work on my website and instagram, I get instant gratification. Likes, comments and all that. This lasts a few minutes, an hour maybe. Than I move on and the next day, same process repeats. Having the photo printed and hung on the wall, I can look at it and feel the same feeling every day. Moreover, the feedback from someone in person, when they see the picture at home or gallery, is so much more valuable and satisfying than any instagram/facebook likes.
Hanging the pictures at home and looking at them daily is very very valuable. I not only get to be happy about the art I’ve created, I get to see where I made mistakes, how could I improve my future compositions or identify where I lack technical skills in photography.
Overall, I hope, this will lead to self-improvement as a photographer… and on that note, thanks for reading. Go and print that art.