Digital Images vs A Real Print
“Photography is more than a medium for communication of reality, it is a creative art.”
It’s estimated that more than a trillion digital photos are taken every year. And the vast majority reside on our phones and other devices. All of us love to slide through Facebook, Instagram, or our Photos app and look at what’s there. And who doesn’t love a gorgeous “wallpaper” on our PC’s desktop? Perhaps an image such as Adams' classic image of Monument Valley Arizona?
But, there is also something immensely satisfying with looking through a photo book, or a scrap book, or enlargements on a wall that is different than looking at a screen. It’s the difference between a “photo” and a piece of art.
It is no secret that one of my personal “heroes” in photography is the legendary Ansel Adams. With a career that started in the 1920’s and really continues today (even though he passed away in 1984 his work lives on), Adams was probably the most famous and well known landscape and documentary photographer in the world. Best known for his work in black and white, he was a respected artist and his body of work remains one of the main reasons many consider photography to be a legitimate art form.
Over the past few years, I have been exploring this artistic side pf photography. I have discovered that although having images on devices is convenient, there is something lacking … there is a depth and sense of scale that can only be experienced when looking at an image displayed on a wall. Adams knew this as well, and was a respected master printer. His gallery, located in his beloved Yosemite National Park, continues this heritage today. In reading one of his many books on photography, The Print, I have been reminded of my own darkroom work years ago. No matter how we create images digitally, there is one part of the photographic process that is missing. There was something absolutely magical about placing an exposed photographic paper in the developer fluid and seeing the image slowly appear. That few seconds of discovery really is one of the most important aspects of the photographic art … seeing something appear that captures a single moment in time for all to share.
Adams said, “The fine print represents, to me, an expressive object of beauty and excellence. The difference between a very good print and a fine print is quite subtle and difficult, if not impossible, to describe in words. There is a feeling of satisfaction in the presence of a fine print - and uneasiness with a print that falls short of optimum quality. The degree of satisfaction or lack of it relates to the sensitivity and experience of the photographer and the viewer.”
That feeling of satisfaction simply cannot be felt when looking at a digital screen.
I have printed, and now display, a number of images in our home. Whether the subject is family or friends, or a particular location, each has an impact that far exceeds what happens when we look at a phone screen. There’s a sense of permanence that comes with each print that is completely missing from it’s digital counterpart.
Join me in rediscovering the joy of photography as art in your home.
Ken St John
And now, a few words from Ken about photographic arts.