The Importance of the Printed Image in the Digital Age
We live in the digital age where everything is available on demand at the touch of a button. Food, shopping, music, movies; it's all there how and when we want it. Even our most treasured memories of family, friends and travels are instantly available. The world we live in truly is amazing and I love the convenience of technology.
At the same time though, there is a fleeting impermanence to it all. Sure, my data might be secure on my device (until I lose or break it), or in the cloud (until I run out of space or decide I'm not paying for the service anymore), but are these 1's and 0's really real? Are they tangible? As a professional photographer, this is important to me. I want to be able to hold a photograph, feel the texture of the paper and see how the light interacts with it. I want to be able to take in the whole image, but at the same time step in close to pull out the details. I want to engage my senses in a way that I never will be able to with an image on a digital device.
I have been living overseas with my wife and two daughters for the past five years and so I am going to use Skype as an illustration (if you are an Apple person we could just as easily use FaceTime for the illustration.) My girls, ages 5 and 2, rarely interact with my family over Skype. Even if they are asked a direct question they will hardly even respond (we are working on this). However, when we went to visit my family this past summer, it was a completely different story. They could play, tickle, laugh and cuddle. The relationship was now real and tangible and they had an amazing time together. They built more of a relationship in a couple days than they had in a couple years over Skype. I am not saying I want to do away with Skype, but I would take five minutes in person over 5 hours on Skype any day.
Does anybody remember receiving letters in the mail? Do you have the same feeling when receiving an email? Probably not, because a letter engages the senses. The texture and smell of the paper, the indention and strokes of the pen, the way the letters were written, and even the parts that were smudged or crossed out. It was tangible, it could be held and you could experience it.
For the past month or more I have been searching for a professional printing service. Why? Because I am a professional photographer and I want to be able to experience the image, and not just see it. When I create work for others, I also want them to be able to experience and not just see the image. The printed image matters.
I would even take take it one step farther and say that a high-quality printed image matters. However, this will be for a different discussion.
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