Photography Prints (And What To Do With Them)

How did we find and enjoy photographs before the internet?

Of course when I was young, my family (specifically my nan on my dad’s side) took many photographs with very simple Kodak cameras and came back from Boots or SupaSnaps with an envelope bursting with prints of our latest adventures.

But aside from these bulging envelopes stuffed in drawers, we actually had very few photographs displayed around our home.

It wasn’t really until I moved in with my now wife around seven years ago that I experienced living somewhere with family photos on every wall.

At first it was strange – my previous residence had a large Mark Rothko poster, another by Barnett Newman and otherwise bare walls. And now, I’m used to having familiar faces all around, and enjoy it.

Recently, to freshen up the photos displayed, and to let more of the thousands of family photos we have on hard drives see the light of day again, I bought a couple of digital frames.

We have these in the main living room, one for portrait orientated shots and one for landscape, changing once every five minutes.

We’ve all really enjoyed seeing these dormant visual records of happy memories dusted off and given life again.

The great plus with these digital frames of course is it’s relatively quick and easy to add and remove photos, so every month or so I’ll mix up the content on the SD cards.

Just before I got these frames, for the first time I can recall, I ordered some prints of my own intentional (ie non family) photography, and bought two black frames to display them in.

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One has gone up in a bathroom, and the other is in a box beside my bed with the rest of the prints.

My plan is to hang this second frame, plus a couple of others of similar size in our bedroom, as well as ordering another batch of prints of my photos.

Alongside this, I have begun looking at photography books, as a partial alternative to viewing images online.

Some of the benefits I’m finding of physical prints (including those in books) over digital on screen photographs are –

– A physical image somehow has more presence and gravitas than one on a screen.

– With paper I am implored to spend more time with each print, whether one of mine or one in a book. Because they’re aren’t a dozen/hundred/thousand others in the endless incoming stream gnawing for my immediate attention too.

– By looking longer at each print I’m seeing more, and the images are making a more lasting impression in my memory. They’re burrowing deeper into my subconscious. I recall in my late teens and beyond having a measure for myself for judging a new music album – don’t make a decision until you’ve listened to it enough times to hear and know every word. Some of the greatest work is that which rewards prolonged and repeated exposure by unravelling itself. Completely unsurprisingly of course, I’m finding the same is true with photography prints.

– Even with a large-ish book and 8 x 12 inch or 8 x 8 inch prints, I’m finding I’d like them even bigger. Going back to trying to view images on my phone seems almost pointless, and even my iPad feels a bit cramped. This is influencing my device choice – now the vast majority of my online viewing is on my 15″ MacBook Pro again. More on devices in another post!

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I love books, and have always read and collected them in some form. I adore how opening a book can unlock a whole new world, whether fiction, educational or imagery.

Of course the internet is like this, many times multiplied, but books still seem to have a different magic.

Photography books are delicious for these reasons above, and that you can a finite, ordered collection of images in one bound volume, and get to know it inside out and back to front.

The internet is too vast, tending too far and too fast towards infinity, making it often unfathomable and overwhelming.

I have been using Pinterest to try to corral and curate a small collection of images and articles, and it feels like making your own book almost, something much more manageable and approachable than being open to the entire breadth and depth of the internet at once.

But to get to the crux of this post. Even with the few prints of my photos I have, I don’t quite know what to do with them.

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Yes you can frame and hang a few, but what of the rest?

You could alternate every now again, but it’s a bit of a faff doing this too regularly (one reason I love those digital frames), and having a separate frame for every print again raises the question what do you do with the ones that aren’t currently on display somewhere?

Or do you just keep adding more to the walls?

I guess I have a few options –

– Frame a few and leave them up one the walls for months or years.

– Rotate the prints in frames periodically, storing the unframed prints somewhere.

– Keep buying new frames and add ever more framed prints to the walls.

– Make a book instead of individual prints. (But then again, what to do with it, plus the vast array of choices that arrive when even considering such a venture.)

– But another digital frame (probably a larger one, those in our living room are roughly 7 x 5 inches) so I can upload a selection of photos and have them rotate.

– Give up on prints of my own “intentional” photography and stick to sharing those online and just have family photos at home (prints and in digital frames).

So I’m very keen to find out, do you make prints of your photographs? What sizes? Why do you make physical prints (or have someone else make them)? What do you do with them? 

Please share your thoughts below (and remember to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

Thanks for looking. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too. If you’re interested, this is what my photography life looks like right now.

43 thoughts on “Photography Prints (And What To Do With Them)”

  1. For me the ultimate end product of photography is the print! Book, Zine or Frame, no matter – even old fashioned photo albums will do. Nothing compares to a physical print. But I don’t like the old shoeboxes full of bulging envelopes… Just print the good stuff!
    Now there are several caveats:
    First, good printing is not easy. Be it darkroom printing (a dream for me still) or new fashioned inkjet printing. This requires a lot of fine tuning and skill to get it right.
    And second, ordering prints is not better by any measure as you mostly don’t have any control about the results, unless working with a professional printer – but that’s a very expensive way.
    As for displaying the photos I make, for the moment we live in a rented flat and I won’t hammer nail in every wall only to have to fix everything up when we move out again. In some months we’ll hopefully move into our own house and then I fully intend to go on an ego-trip and hang a lot of prints.
    I’ll try not to go over the top but I’ll use mostly smaller formats in very simple frames, combined for visual effect. Some few bigger ones…
    But most photos will find their way into simple photo books in my bookshelf.

    1. Frank, I thought you’d have pretty “old school” ideas about this, I’m glad you’ve shared your experiences.

      How often would you change prints of you had them on your walls? And would you replace a print within a frame, or buy another frame for a new print and just swap out one frame for the other on the wall?

      What did you mean by “most photos will find their way into simple photobooks…”? Do you mean you have photobooks of your own photos made? This has made me realise, I don’t need to have a fancy “Blurb” style book made to sell to others, I can get books of my own made from an online company (we had one made for our wedding three years ago with very pleasing results).

      1. I’d swap photos in the frames but not that often. And I ´d have ro find frames that make swapping easy…

        Up to now I just tried Blurb but there are others out there… cheaper too. Just have to see if quality is OK.

        And nice Zines, especially larger format are nice to display at home. Just put some on a coffee table, a sideboard….

  2. I don’t currently print but I’ve been thinking about this a lot as well. I live in a rented flat, so, like Frank, I don’t want to be hammering nails into walls! However, I’ve hung up canvas art (not my own) using velcro-style wall hanging things (don’t recall their actual name lol) which are supposed to come off the wall easily… Time will tell! So I’ve been thinking of doing the same thing with some of my own images, but deciding on which to choose is really hard! I literally had *one” printed about a few months ago, to see how Jessops handled it, and I was actually really pleased with the results, but haven’t sent them any more because I can’t decide which others to print (except for 3 photos taken on my Pixel that I want to get done as a set). Also I want to shop around a bit more because Jessops seemed quite expensive for what I got.

    I’ve also thought about doing a photo book or a zine… The photo book would be a coffee table book (except I don’t have a coffee table lol) of my favourite floral images and/or cat photos, and the zine would probably be photos taken around London. Problem I have with the latter is that I don’t know if I have enough of one particular style of photo for a book. I shoot London in all kinds of different formats that don’t necessarily work well together, but I also don’t take photos around London that often! Hopefully I’ll have some better material to work with this year as I’ve decided to stick to certain film stocks for the majority of my shooting.

    1. Mellisa, thanks for your thoughts. I had a handful printed via Photobox online. They’ve done lots of family prints in the past and we’ve always been happy with them. It was almost as cheap to order half a dozen prints as one, with the postage the same.

      I’m going to look into the photobook idea too. Looks like on Photobox you can get an A4 from around £30 and A3 around £50. Sure I can find a discount code somewhere… Books just make more sense to me than having the same number of images (say 12 or 20) as individual prints that then each need a frame and hanging.

  3. I print very little of my work.

    I love to see it printed. There’s a real thrill in holding a large print of an image you’re proud of.

    But what the heck to do with all the prints? I can’t hang them all. I have a lot of art that already fills most of my walls. And so I’d just store the prints in a box someplace. I don’t see the point.

    1. Jim I feel quite similar, hence the title of this post asking what to do with them. I’m thinking a photobook or a digital frame is a better solution for me. And take up less space overall!

  4. I ran out of wall space and storage space for prints a long time ago. I made prints with a good Epson inkjet printer for quite a while, but tired of feeding it pricey color cartridges. I’m mostly happy with exhibiting my work on line on my blog and at Flickr now. I have tried some other options in the past couple years. I did a Blurb book of my box camera work; I thought the reproductions of the images were quite nice and the final price including shipping was about ten bucks per copy. More recently I have done some slide shows to provide kind of an unobtrusive background for gatherings at my home using Chromecast and Flickr.

    1. Mike can you tell us more about the slideshow? I remember in another post the comments went off on tangents about displaying our photos (which led me to buying a couple of used digital frames at the time) and someone mentioned they have on old PC hooked up to a flatscreen tv playing a slideshow…

  5. Selecting the twelve best images of the past year and combining them in a photo calendar in the format DIN A2 …. having a large format print with changing images (ok, once a month) for the whole year. That’s how I enjoy my ‘work’ the old way 😉

      1. Well … that’s the point.

        Having to select (only) 12 from several hundred – depending if I had more or less photo trips during the year – and considering also landscape or portrait mode, as all images of the calendar should be the same orientation, together with my beloved wife it takes us around 2 hours … some kind of speed-dating … not always easy, but what counts is the result 😉

        And the result however is the best we both agreed on and which we can look at now the whole year long – each image for one month. You remember one of your last posts about the difference between viewing images online or viewing them in books – it’s the time what makes them special.

        It’s already some kind of tradition making our own calendar and when year’s end is nearing, my wife is calling to start our speed-dating for next year’s selection. Seems as if she finds my images are not that bad 😉

        1. I’m impressed you can select 12 from hundreds in just a couple of hours. Do you go for a theme each month or is purely what you both feel are the best 12 photographs from the year?

          1. We select the best 12 from the year, but we then try to put each image to the best fitting month, depending on season, mood, weather etc.

            The selection process is simple. We go through the collection multiple times, selecting each time the ‘best’ images and tagging them. In the next cycle we filter only the previously tagged. During this process, you see if you can continue with both, landscape and portrait orientation, or if you can focus on only one of it. After 4-5 cycles we are finally down to the 12.

            We learned that this speed-dating is the only way to come to a final result within an appropriate amount of time. Otherwise you would have endless discussions, lasting a lifetime.

            Another option would be to create more than one calendar 😉

          2. I actually do a similar thing with editing photos, first time through I delete any that just didn’t work on a technical level or made me wonder why I bother to capture them, then the next cycle I get a better idea of what the best look like and delete a few more that don’t make the grade, then repeat until I’m just left with the best few.

  6. In your case, I vote for “Keep buying new frames and add ever more framed prints to the walls,” Dan. But like Jim Grey, I print very little of my own work. Sometimes I’ll make a pack of greeting cards with my photos for a friend — and I did make a couple of Blurb books a few years back — but mostly I’m content enough to enjoy them on the screen.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Heide. The trouble with the walls option is you can maybe only get one or two or perhaps three as a series, on a wall. As long as the wall doesn’t already have a wardrobe or bookcase or something against it. We don’t have a huge house so I can think of maybe two walls really that are “available”. So that’s a maximum six prints.

      I thinking maybe one larger digital frame for a fairly large wall in our bedroom, plus look at make a book or two each year…

  7. Regarding Flickr slideshows projected to your tv:
    The little Chromecast gizmo is connected to one of the HDMI ports on your tv and you then select that output from the tv setup menu. Then, using the Chrome browser you cast whatever is displayed on your computer monitor via your wifi network to the tv screen. So, you go to your Flickr stream or one of you Flickr albums and select “Toggle Slideshow” with the little screen icon near the upper right corner. Apple has a similar gadget for connecting your tv to your computer output.

    1. Thanks Mike, sounds neat. My phone (Android) can do a cast thing like for YouTube videos, wonder if it can do it to our smart TV with Flickr or Google Photos or you need the Chromecast device…

  8. I make contact sheets of all my negatives, 4×6 prints to give to friends and relatives, and larger prints to display on the wall. The display prints are a rotating collection, with the most recent prints rotated out of display in a storage box in the living room.

    1. Doug this sounds so simple. I like it!

      With the rotating prints, do you use the same frames and change the print in it,or have a frame for each print?

      1. I have a collection of frames for 8×8, 8×10 and 8×12 prints (and one for 12×12).

        The prints that get the most attention are a set of three 8×10’s in the tiny bathroom used by guests – one each of me, my wife and our son. I change these frequently and regular visitors seem to enjoy them.

        1. Doug, do you always get the right frame for the print already made? Just think 8×10 is an unusual dimension, I guess these are for photos shot in 4×5 aspect ratio?

          1. I have extra pre-matted frames so I can make my “big” prints in whichever of the three aspect ratios, 1×1, 2×3 or 4×5, works best. (Which reminds me, I also have a couple of frames matted for 7×10.5 which is full frame on 8.5×11 paper.) I find that many of my portrait orientation pictures – particularly head shots – benefit from cropping to a 4×5 aspect ratio.

  9. I have a whole wall dedicated to my images. I bought a set (actually 2) of very reasonably priced matching frames in varying sizes. I printed off my forty favourite photos and filled a wall 15′ x 8′. I did this first in my previous apartment and covered the wall going up my stairs; no stairs here so the hallway is my gallery. I intend to replace them one at a time as more recent photos become favourites but haven’t done that yet.
    I also have some ‘family photos I have taken on our travels printed and on the wall.
    I have done a few photo books of trips and things i can put together as a collection but these have been in place of family albums rather than collections of me ‘Art’. I used My Publisher which is now part of Shutterfly.
    I have also printed off some mounted images as gift items through Shutterfly for desks etc.

    I do like having my images in a physical form; it is a very different experience than looking at a screen (of any size).

    1. This is a great idea, having a whole art wall. I have this in mind for our bedroom wall. But probably not 40 photos, maybe three or four. 🙂

      With the photo books, do you often go back and browse through them?

      1. I don’t have those books any more I left them in the UK with my daughter but the one I have here from a recent holiday is on display on our bookshelf.

  10. Some I print, frame and hang around the house in mixed groups. I don’t really change them much though, one has to check with the boss first, she always has the last word!
    As for sizes it really depends on the image, I display my pictures from a large canvas print 34 x 51 inch in the lounge to 12 x 8, 9 x 6 and 6 x 4 inch prints and all are wall mounted.

    Those I do put up on the wall I the images that please us together, I post them on Flickr and now my WordPress site.
    My storage is either on external hard drives, in the print draw or in A4 negative binders. I do look back sometimes and am amazed what I might have missed from past work.
    I think the vast majority of photographers both amateurs or professionals will have most of their images incarcerated to the filing system of some sort or another, many never to be viewed again.

    1. Yes that is why I invested in the couple of digital frames in our living room, we have years worth of family photos that are laying dormant on hard drives, and these frames give them new life, as it were.

      Which is also why I’m wondering about getting a large digital frame and having say a dozen photos of mine on their at a time, rotating once an hour or once a day. You get the variety, but also there’s only ever one image at a time to focus your attention on.

      I really like gathered groups of photo frames, and we have these in our house too. Just thinking with my own prints I’d like fewer of them grouped together. Or in a book with one per page.

        1. Yes, this is inevitable eventually with all electronics. I think we just have decide whether we want to use something for five, 10, 15 years and be prepared to replace it, or stick with something that will last longer, like a wooden picture frame or a mechanical film camera.

          I have a couple of digital cameras from 2006 that are working fine, I don’t think digital/electronic stuff necessarily has a very short life.

          In fact we have a third hand Sony DVD player in our daughter’s room that according to Sony’s website is a 1999 model, and it’s going strong at 19 years old. Works better and is much quieter than the much smaller Sony and Panasonic models we have elsewhere too, I love it!

  11. Oh? Now I’m just a ‘someone’. I’m hurt. LOL.
    Yes a 55″ TV portrait orientation is the way to go for me. In the kitchen, with 4 gigs of storage on a dedicated PC changing pics every 90 seconds randomly from over 140,000 jpgs.
    This reminds me to update the pics ASAP.

    I’m also a big printer. from 4″ x 6″ to 56″ x 84″. If you don’t have room to show big prints in your home, offer them to businesses from restaurants to offices and factories. Offer them for free, then they will ask you for custom work. Charge a crazy amount. If you do the work that they ask for, they will pay. This assumes the obvious, that you have a bit of talent.

    1. We love the digital photo frames, should have bought them years ago! Thanks again, those Philips ones are great, and they only cost me about £20 each.

      A 55″ portrait hung TV would be awesome, I’d love to see that. Is that what you have?? Yeh looking at the prices of larger digital frames (12-15″), a PC plus screen might be as cheap. You could probably get a decent smart TV with an SD slot or cloud capability and just use it for nothing but displaying photos for a couple of hundred pounds. Cheaper than a dedicated digital photo frame I suspect. Trouble is they’re all widescreen these days, and my photos are mostly 3:2 or 4:3.

      I’m still a bit torn between digital and prints though, With the family pics I love them on the digital screens, I don’t care about resolution, it’s plenty good enough. With my own “intentional” photos though, if I’m going to display some I may as well get prints (or a photo book) that still seem more special and more real somehow.

      Great ideas about giving away pics. If I had more professional photographer aspirations (and time) this is something I would love to explore.

  12. Yes, a 55″ portrait mounted TV is what I have in the kitchen. I have to use it with a PC though. I need to be able to control the time of display (90 second is a must for me.) Also I have to be able to find out information about the photos. (What camera, what lens, file location and date.) If you are trying to do this without a computer and mounting it portrait style, make sure you don’t have any issues with rotation. I always have in the past with ‘smart TVs’

    It’s really great when at night it fills the kitchen with reddish orange light from a random sunset pic. Also on a foggy day, guests can still see a large photo of the view from the house.

    Glad you like the Philips frame.

    1. Yes I had a bit of fiddling about with portrait photos on the Philips frames. It seems with some files they’re saved rotated (wrongly) but display automatically the right way up on a computer. There’s a little tick box inside the “info” of the images that tells you if it’s been rotated or not, I had to tick/untick a few so they displayed portrait in the Philips frames.

      A portrait on a 55″ screen must be larger than life!

      1. I have a problem with the Philips cutting off some of the photos even though they are sized correctly to 480 x 800. Takes some faffing to get them right but only sometimes.

        Yes the portraits are big on the 55″. But it also grabs the viewers attention from the other side of the room. Plus it’s fun for me to zoom in on a photo to see resolution or sharpness or focus quality. The 55 in the kitchen is the most viewed thing in the entire house. Best choice for me.

  13. I love your attitude towards books, Dan. “I adore how opening a book can unlock a whole new world, whether fiction, educational or imagery.” Me, too. To a certain extent, I could say the same about blog posts, but agree that there is so much joy in opening, holding, even smelling a book.

    I don’t take photos apart from my photobooth ones, but have the same quandary of what to do with the larger prints I collect. I generally mount them on acid free black A4 card, on the back of which I write details about the photo. I slide them into an archival sleeve and store them standing upright in an oyster shell box. I generally get them out every couple of months and enjoy looking through them, as I would a book.

    1. Yes there are some blogs that can take you on a similar adventure, and these are the ones I tend to be looking for more now, rather than in the past viewing far more photography blogs that were mostly about the equipment. I wrote about this a few weeks back – https://35hunter.blog/2018/03/12/spare-us-your-shutter-speeds-share-with-us-your-soul/

      That is a good idea with the photos, almost like an album, but looser. I might have a look at albums based on this idea, I’d kind of overlooked the idea and was thinking only of either having them framed on a wall, or as part of a photo book. A good old album at say around A4 size I can still leaf through like a book, and change the prints now and again – or get another album. Thanks for the ideas!

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