In the midst of uncertainty, we find ourselves going through a time of constant change – impacting how we work and live in ways not imagined just a few short months ago. Living through this digital transformation has us all reevaluating the “hows” and “whys” of our daily life.
At Trope, like many of you, we are working from home and finding ways to produce our books and films remotely, in smaller teams, and in makeshift surroundings where Zoom meetings with our colleagues in Chicago and London have become the new norm. Spending so much time online and on video calls has also made us appreciate what we do even more – producing beautifully crafted books and artful prints that we can touch, see and enjoy. This “luxury” of holding and experiencing books by our amazing network of photographers and seeing their beautiful prints on our walls, is not lost on us. In an era of endless online content and “fake” news, books and prints represent a level of authenticity and permanence that builds on our innate desire to collect meaningful artifacts that bring us joy and calm.
As we continue to work from home, we’ve stayed in touch with many of the photographers from around the world whose work have appeared in Trope publications. Through the Covid-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests, they continue to shoot and many have come to reflect on the importance of print. We asked several photographers about their perspective on print today and we received a diverse range of comments.
Ope Odueyungbo, Parallel Lines, Trope London Edition & Trope Hong Kong Edition
Print definitely gives you more of a chance to observe and appreciate everything, including the minor details you probably wouldn't have been able to see on a screen. You get the feeling of achievement when you’re able to hold and hang up a print and say ‘I took that, it's mine’. There’s no risk of it being forgotten or pushed down the digital timeline. Viewing your work in print is something I feel every creative should experience as I feel it can only add to your journey.
If I print a photograph it has to be one that I feel would make others stop, stare and appreciate. Sharing online so frequently, I can sometimes fall into the trap of sharing images that aren't so thought provoking or interesting.
Before printing, I always try to visualise how it’s going to come out and to my surprise the look and quality often exceeds my expectations. In the past I’ve done various test prints to see which final result or finish works best for my style of work. I do find that I’m drawn to using matte type paper. I feel it’s very convenient and generally works well for all. Since my University days (I studied digital photography), this has been my ‘go to’ and I’m a firm believer in the saying, 'if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it'. – Ope Odueyungbo, London
Lucy Hamidzadeh, Unfinished Stories and Trope London Edition
I just feel seeing a photo printed is so much more impactful and special in physical form – yes, it’s great to share and see a photo on someone’s phone or computer – but the printed detail is blown up, it’s tactile, you can feel the life in a photo.
Printing your work is an extension of your art. It also allows you to look at your work critically. As with anything, making mistakes and learning from them helps as an artist. If your shot isn’t up to scratch in camera, it won’t look all that great on paper. Even if the image is technically good, if you’ve over-edited the image, it still won’t look that great on paper. It’s like baking a cake, you have to treat all the ingredients you put into the bowl with love and care. The printing process can be a bit painful, making us scrutinize our work, self-doubt (a lot) and not always like the result. The result – like a cake – might not always be the best or what we want to see at first, especially if we love the image. But, I feel it forces us to grow as an artist and to ask ourselves where do we want to go with our art.
Printing for archival reasons is a logical thing to do, but the real reason you should start printing is emotional. When done correctly, seeing a high-quality print of an image you made can be mesmerizing. There is just something about holding a finished print in your hands that is infinitely more satisfying than seeing your photo on a screen.
I think we all have some sense of what’s visually inspiring and important to us when it comes to seeing a photo. There’s something emotional in holding a finished print of art in your hands that is infinitely more satisfying than seeing your photo on a screen. With my work, I like to think it’s an extension of ‘me’. That my identity becomes visible in the frame, and that the viewer can see what I see, think and feel in the moment, but at the same time I want to add something that transports them into my shoes so that they have an experience of their own. With an art form as creative as photography, you can leave the fingerprint of your style in whatever you do. However, I know that not everyone will understand the more intimate street moments that I love to share, so I do take this into consideration when printing (more so for selling a collection of prints). – Lucy Hamidzadeh, London
Graham Chapman, Trope Chicago Edition
I feel like there are certain images you want to see large and printed out on paper rather than on the computer or phone screen. There’s something about being able to hold a print, see the details and study it while your eyes don’t have that feeling of looking at a monitor. I share certain images on my account that I don’t feel would really look good printed. Maybe because I didn’t really catch the focus properly (it happens and it is forgiving on a small screen), or because it doesn’t feel special enough to print.
I’m so picky when it comes to my own work. It’s tough for me to choose what to print. I like printing my street photos as opposed to landscape shots because they’re more rare and of-a-moment than a shot of the lakefront or of a cityscape. It feels like that frozen moment comes back to life when it gets printed and I can remember exactly what I was feeling when I hit the shutter.
It’s important to see your work on paper, in a book, or on a wall. I think it adds a whole separate dimension to photography, albeit one that’s been around forever and seems to go by the wayside now that we just look at images on our screens. You’ll have more of an appreciation for what you’re taking pictures of when you take the time print it. And, when someone wants your print on their wall it makes it even more special. – Graham Chapman, Chicago
Additional artists and prints can be found at Trope.com/collections/prints