There is one question that is very relevant to present day photography – Do people still print the images from their digital camera?
Industry might pull out charts, graphs and all sorts of figures to show sales of photographic prints to a consumer market. The Art World might speak about an increasing trend of people buying Fine-art collectible prints. But, do we see people around our immediate surroundings making prints out of their digital images? Forget others, let us ask ourselves how many prints have we made out of the images shot using our own cameras? Compare these numbers with the total number of images we open, edit and upload on photo-sharing websites and social networks, and what do we see?
I see an imbalance. At least in my case, I have made fewer photo prints of personal images. And I have made archival quality prints only when clients wanted to buy them, or for display in print exhibitions. These days even exhibitions have digital screenings and slide-shows.
Things have changed a lot from the time I was at school. Back then, I used to have a suitcase full of Photo-albums with images preserved in sleeves. Image sharing (showing-off) then meant displaying the physical album to visitors at home. Today, image-sharing has undergone a paradigm shift and it simply means pressing a ‘share button’ on the web which would push your digital album to all your friends at the same time. Image-sharing and Visual Communication have found newer mediums apart from print. This does not mean print-making is obsolete. It is just that the purpose of print-making is no longer the necessity of image sharing.
What then is the purpose of making photo prints?
I cannot possibly pin-point one reason. It could mean different things to different people. For some it is still the joy of traditional process of making photographic prints. But, in most businesses even print making is mechanized. Also, they say that there is an increase in the sales of digital photo frames!
Hence, it would interesting to know what determines an individual to go for photo prints. It could be an individualistic reason to go for a print. But, there surely is some joy in holding on to a tangible photograph in your hand than just seeing it on a tablet PC. I still get excited every-time I hold a photograph in my hand, even if the photograph is from a photo-booth at a mall.
One important observation is that it is a small percentage of digital images that we print when compared to the total amount of digital images we have in our memory(cards). So there is some specialty that people attribute to certain images which could be just one of the driving factors to go for a print. It could be that an occasion, an event, a place or a person that was photographed means something special to somebody. It could be anything…
Today, the medium of a print has gone beyond traditional photo-papers to coffee-mugs, posters, postcards, calendars, T-shirts, photo-books, and so on. This is an ever-expanding list of items. I once received a non-photographic gift but it was inside a gift-wrap on which were printed images from the special times I shared with someone.
Photo-books seem to have emerged as a nice alternative to traditional photo albums. As an independent photojournalist & documentary photographer, I prefer to distribute my photo stories through photo books. My project, “Fistful of Dreams ” is available as a Photo-Book and as well as an eBook.
Photo-Books (also commonly called as Coffee Table Books) have improved a great deal in quality in the recent years. There are many players in this business that tap on to the Print-on-demand market. For Fistful of Dreams I used US-based Blurb.com . Apart from creating photo-books for personal projects, I create photo-books for my clients too.
Since the day I went independent as a visual story-teller, a large part of my non-editorial clients have been from the weddings (apart from a spurt in the number of clients wanting multimedia projects). Today, wedding photography in India is seeing renewed interest and recognition. Especially contemporary wedding photography that involves documentary/photojournalism style of photography has garnered interest from young couples. I have been shooting weddings for clients by donning the hat of an embedded documentary photographer. And it feels good to have been recognized in the mainstream media for it.
For most of the weddings projects that I document, the clients are usually in India and Blurb is not a feasible option to make photo-books for them. The reasons for this are the over-head shipping costs to India and the long turn-around time (usually two weeks) for Blurb to process the order and ship a book to India. Hence, I had been looking for an alternative photo-book player in India.
Recently, I tried the India based Canvera, for creating photo books. I tested it by creating a 6×9 landscape Photo-book with a custom cover and I used their Free-life Art paper to make the pages. I was impressed by the quality of the Photo Book that I received. Also, since it is located in India the turn-around time (couple of days) at which my order was processed was fast. I think I will be use Canvera as one of the options for making photo-books for my clients in India. What I have shared above is a slide-show giving an overview of the design of the first photo-book I made using Canvera. I have used images from my own engagement for this sample book.
P.S: The end result is that my fiancée is impressed!
(Note: If you like my work, then please do share the link to this website with others. Also, if you’d like to support me in my projects, then feel free to do it via Flattr , a social micro-payment system. Alternately, you can even buy my Books/E-books. Or maybe even buy a fine-art print.)