Discovering the Joy of Printing

Why Print?

I was at The Photography Show at the Birmingham NEC a few weeks ago and while I was there I picked up a Canon Pixma Pro-10S printer.  Every year I hope to pick up a bargain from the show and this year was no different.  When I saw that Canon was offering double cash back on their range of Pixma Pro printers I went straight to the Calumet stand and grabbed myself Pro-10S.

Though this may sound like a spontaneous decision, it was not.  For at least a year now I've wanted to extend my workflow to include printing.  There are a couple of reasons for this decision.  Firstly, seeing some of my images printed in Outdoor Photography magazine has made me realise how wonderful it is to see one of your images in print.

I have also been influenced by a couple of photographers that I follow online that are big proponents of printing, Martin Bailey and David duChemin.  Martin wrote and excellent ebook on printing Making the Print and David has an excellent video on Ideas for Living With Your Photographs.

I wanted to live with my work a bit more.  Why should my images gather dust in a digital archive?  I want to see what my images looked like in physical form.   

Printing at Home

So why would I go to all the hassle of printing at home?  Why not just send the images to a lab and have a professional do it?  This is a valid question but for me, half the fun is the process of the print.  There is a sense of excitement as the printer slowly prints out one of your images.  The anticipation of seeing the final result.  Printing is the last step in a complete end to end photography workflow that starts with capture and ends in print.

This isn't to say that I wouldn't use a lab.  Labs are great, especially if you need an unusually large print, need framing or need to print on other materials.  But for me, I want that tangible experience of doing the print myself and hanging it on my wall.

What about the cost?  Isn't printing at home expensive?  I'll be absolutely honest with you, I have not concerned myself with how much each print will cost.  That's not to say that I don't care, it's just that the cost per page isn't something that has influenced either my decision to print at home or the decision to buy this specific printer. 

I've always owned Canon printers and my current office printer is a Canon so I was very comfortable with my decision to buy the Canon Pixma Pro-10S.  Also, given the volumes of printing that I was going to do, I could treat myself to an A3 print every now again.  Compared with all the other money I have spent on photography over the years, the cost of a print seems a small price to pay to further my enjoyment and experience of photography.

My First Print

I was excited to make my first print with my Canon Pixma Pro-10S.  One of the first things I needed to do was to get some paper.  There is a dizzying range of paper types and sizes out there.  I thought I would make my life easy to start with by selecting from Canon's own range of pro papers.  After watching David Noton's videos on A guide to Fine Art and Photo Printing and Fine Art and Photo Printing I knew the Canon paper types would already have the relevant ICC profiles installed which should make my first print easier.   He also made some good suggestion on which paper types to use.

So I got onto and ordered some Canon Pro Platinum A4 and A3+ glossy paper.  I was ready to start printing.  If you want to see how I got on with my first print, from setup to final output, I've made a short video of my experience. 

Impressive, Fun and Simple

To say that I was impressed by the output would be an understatement!   The accuracy of the print compared to what I saw on the monitor was remarkable.   The colours, tones and contrast all looked amazing on the glossy A3 paper.  My black and white image from my Live Music portfolio was also stunning with the printer producing a punchy and detailed print.

I was also pleased how simple it was to make a successful print.  I was already calibrating my monitor but I was worried that I might have to extend that to include printing, but Getting an accurate print was no more difficult than selecting the correct paper type in the Canon Print Studio Pro

However, almost as important as the quality and simplicity of the process was that it was fun.  There really was something very special about watching one of your favourite images gradually appear from the printer.  When I held up that first print to the light I realised that I had definitely made the right decision to get into printing.  The whole experience of looking at your images in print is so vastly different from seeing them on a monitor, even one as good as my Eizo monitor.  Printing now as a permanent home in my photography workflow and I can't wait to print more of my images.

So do you print your work?  Do you print at home or use a lab?  Let me know in the comments below.