I have been honing my photographic skills over the last several years. Making strides in composition, storytelling and mechanics of photography, I still lacked some finer processing skills and the art of printing. I decided that a print is the ultimate goal of a photographer. There is just something very tangible, very permanent about a print. Anybody can flick through a series of images on an electronic device. But actually taking the time to make a print, matting, framing, hung on the wall and lit well -takes considerable more effort. It also then requires more contemplation by the audience. I think they place more weight and value on the print than in electronic form. They are more willing to commit more time with the print.
During the span of a year, I completed both of John Paul’s Intermediate and Advance printing classes. At that point, I believed that I had achieved the skills required to attempt my own Print Portfolio.
There is just something substantial about the physical print. Let’s face it, we can casually look through tons of images on our electronic devices. They are there and then gone. But having a book full of prints is something completely different. You engage two more of your senses, touch, and smell. Every book has a certain feel and personal experience to it. It evokes more of an emotional response than the electronic equivalent.
So my goal with this project was severalfold.
1. Create a body of work of 24 images
2. Improve my image processing
3. Improve my print quality / skills
4. Share with as many people as I can
A decision had to be made on the format of the book. Landscape, Portrait, or Square. I deiced that the square format was the most versatile of the three. With a square book, I could print any aspect ratio that I wanted and not feel constrained to a particular style. Since I knew this book was going to be a work in progress and may change over time, I thought being versatile was a good trade-off versus being locked into a portrait or landscape format.
The next decision that I had to make was the size of the book. I based this partly on the common size of paper available. The other influence was what kind of reaction I wanted from people when they viewed the book. I made 5 prints on 13×14 inch and 17×18 inch papers and then just stapled them together to simulate the two sizes of the book I was considering. I printed horizontal, vertical and square images. I had my own opinion and then solicited several peoples opinions. The larger size won hands down. You would not think that 4 extra inches would make that dramatic of a difference but it really did. It took the scale of the book from something casual to something cherished. The larger size was just so much more engaging.
The paper choice for my Epson 9900 printer, (after some experimentation) Epson Ultrasmooth. It brought an extra dimension of depth to my ice images. The warmth of the paper gave an extra separation to the printed images. I decided that the easiest form factor would be to use 17″ wide roll paper. Then I would just allow the printer to cut the sheets to a length of 18″. This way I would not have to do any post printing trimming of the prints.
For the physical book, I had a custom binding post book and slip cover made. I choose the binding post style so that it would be easy to replace prints and so that I could completely change the theme of the book if I desired. For materials I choose Black on Black on Black. This might be generic, or called corporate, but I liked the neutrality of it and its future potential. Each of the three surfaces were a different material, so that added a subtle variation to the book. I added just a splash of Red into my debossed logo. The inner front and back sheets are sanded mylar. This essentially adds an end sheet to the book and enhances the experience when opening the book.
I learned a lot through this process. It was a great growth experience. Having a project focuses your mind and creativity. Completing a project gives you a sense of accomplishment. Sharing the experience – I hope I can inspire all of you to do something wonderful.