When someone has a print on the wall, it creates a lasting connection between the viewer and the photographer. A print on display is unique because it exists in the viewers space on a daily basis. It becomes more than just a quick glance on the bottomless social media feed, or even the impulsive “like” that drives the algorithms. A print becomes part of the viewer’s life, and a point of continued dialog between the photographer and the viewer.
Like many photographers, I’ve collected prints over the years from friends and artists I admire. Even after seeing them every day for years, they continue to bring me joy, and I can discover new things within them. But they also bring me back to the moment I connected with the photograph, and the photographer.
That ability to connect is what makes a print so powerful. If an artist or a story moved me enough to put it on my wall, the print serves as a portal to reconnect to that artist and their story over and over again. It’s built a relationship in the way reading a good book does, or a fine conversation with friends. It’s a mile marker, a touchstone. It makes me, as the viewer, somehow more invested in the artist, and every time I view it, renews that investment.
It’s this “viewer investment” that begs us to give more consideration to sharing our work as prints. What photographer doesn’t want a more invested audience in an era of visual saturation?
At its simplest, that investment is in the photographer’s story and vision, whatever that may be. And a photographer’s story and vision can do powerful things.
I’ve seen it save the last un-fished ocean, stop destructive mining, bring attention to threatened species, bring back memories of a long lost family member, and so many other things.
Photography has an ability to connect us to current and historical events, people, places, and things like no other art form. It makes the sharing of that story between photographer and viewer a more personal connection. And it turns that connection into a long term conversation. It’s not gone in three seconds like an Instagram post at crappy resolution, it’s not on a shelf like a book that rarely is viewed. It’s on bold display for all who pass, sharing it’s story over and over again.
That is why the effort to make prints, sell prints, and display prints is worth being part of a photographers endeavors, and why I, as a photographer and printmaker, am so passionate about making well crafted, expressive prints.