• Steve Ball

The Joy of Printing

Printing is expensive, time-consuming, and fraught with technical challenges - so why do I, and many others, enjoy it so much?

Printing is just one option we have to share our creativity with others, but in todays world it is probably one of the least popular. The emergence of the smartphone camera, and the increasing use of social media has led to a huge increase in the numbers of people taking photographs. It is probably true to say that more photographs are taken and published each day than at any other time in history. It is undoubtedly a good thing that an increasing number of people are using photographs to express themselves and to share their creativity; however we should not forget that the vast majority of images posted on-line suffer from a limited shelf-life before they are engulfed by the millions of new images that are posted in the following days. Consequently it is highly likely that many good photographs are simply lost in the passage of time.

As well as posting photographs on social media, many photographers maintain huge digital libraries of images, the majority of which may never see the light of day. We all return from our photoshoot eager to download our photographs and see whether we have captured that one shot that stands out from the crowd. Realistically that only happens occasionally, and most of the time we leave our photos in an ever growing catalogue and look forward to our next photoshoot with eager anticipation. That was certainly my experience until I started to question myself on why I was taking photographs of the landscape, and more specifically what did I want to do with those images.

While I have always been primarily focussed on taking photographs for my own pleasure, I do recognise the value of sharing my work, both in terms of receiving constructive feedback, but also from the indulgent perspective of seeing one of my images hanging on someone's wall. I recognised that my body of work was growing, but also that it was hidden away on a digital platform and was therefore anonymous in every respect. I also knew that I did not want to expose myself to the world of social media so decided to do two things; publish my work on a dedicated website, and start to print some of my images.

Initially printing was technically very challenging. I had quickly committed to home printing, rather than using an external source, but wasted a lot of time (and money) producing prints that bore little resemblance to the images I was looking at on the computer monitor. Frustration grew at a rapid pace until such time as I realised that printing was as much

an art as taking the photograph in the first place. I invested in some professional help both in terms of my capability and my printing workflow, and immediately started to see the benefits. That is when the 'Joy of Printing' turned into an obsession. The whole process of choosing the right paper to suit the image, preparing the photograph for printing, loading the paper into the printer, and pressing the 'print' button is just a joy for me. It kicks off the anticipation of what the final print will turn out like; will the colours be rendered correctly, will the paper prove to be the right choice, and will the print match the image I prepared on my computer screen. I wait as the printer slowly works its magic and turns a blank piece of paper into my very own piece of art, capturing that small segment of the landscape that caught my imagination in the first place. I can feel it in my hands, cast my eye over every detail, look at the texture and colours, and regardless whatever anyone else might think of my photograph I can see it for what it is....my creativity, my work, my vision. It is the final, and very necessary, part of a process from capture to print. It is simply 'the joy of printing'.

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