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.
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!
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.
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.