Welcome to Lesson 1 — Why Print?

Hello and welcome!

Thanks so much for joining me on the Intro to Fine Art Printing email course.

The idea is simple—you will receive one essential lesson straight to your inbox every other day for the next 13 days. These lessons will give you a solid introduction to get started making your own fine art prints, and more importantly, explain how printing leads to improving your confidence and vision as a photographer.

As with all of the content I share, there is a strong focus on building a solid foundation of knowledge based on principles, not formulas. I'll share what I think is essential to make printing a fun, rewarding addition to your image-making. It may even become necessary!

There's a whole world of creative possibility available to you - all it takes is a commitment to create and enter your own print studio.

"Don't go through life, grow through life." - Eric Butterworth
  • Lesson 1 - Why Print? (Today)
  • Lesson 2 - Essential Gear Guide to Fine Art Printing
  • Lesson 3 - Color Management Basics
  • Lesson 4 - Essential Strategies in Developing Images for Print
  • Lesson 5 - Basic Printing Workflow in Lightroom
  • Lesson 6 - Beginner's Guide to Choosing Papers
  • Lesson 7 - Choosing Papers—Real-World Examples
  • Lesson 8 - Final Thoughts and Going Further

The course is completely free for subscribers, so feel free to invite any friends who might find this useful. There is a link at the end of this email which you can share with them.

All I need from you is a commitment to read and digest each email lesson. You don't have to read them straight away, but I recommend reading them in the order they are delivered.

I also suggest you set up a separate “Creative Path Workshops” folder in your inbox so you can always return and reread the lessons as needed.

To get things started, I want to break down some of the common misconceptions which might be holding you back, and also share why I think printing is the ultimate way to experience and share your photography.

Lesson 1- Why Print?

Printing your own work is one of the most rewarding and satisfying aspects of photography. It adds a physical experience to your images and may give you insights that are difficult if not impossible to achieve any other way.

Another benefit to printing is that it helps you look more deeply into the things that inspire you photographically, and in the process help you develop your vision; your unique way of seeing the world.

I’ve seen this where students become inspired to pursue a particular subject or idea because a print made it more tangible than a digital display ever could. This is especially true when sharing your work with others.

While it’s true that you can have your prints made at a print lab, it eliminates the main reason I advocate for printing: the exploration and experimentation of printing. You remove yourself from the creative journey of printing, and miss out on insights that can open a whole new way of approaching your photography.

All of this brings me to the real point of this lesson, which is that printing is a profound way to experience and appreciate photography on a whole new level that many either do not appreciate, or have not been exposed to. This is especially true for those who started their journey in photography in the digital domain, or before high quality archival printing was something you could do in your bedroom.

We’ve become so accustomed to the digital nature of everything these days, and I enjoy and love every bit of it. But we still live in a physical world where we react in very predictable and subconscious ways to things we can hold, touch, feel. That adds a profound depth to the visual experience which ultimately makes a deeper connection with the viewer.

Printing your work adds a whole new dimension to your creative vision, and how you photograph. And you’ll gain a whole new way to interpret and share your images that I think bring personal rewards you can’t get any other way.

Here are a few points to consider:

  • Adds a physical experience to a photograph
  • A print stands completely apart from its digital counterpart on a monitor, visually and viscerally.
  • Conveys your dedication to your vision and craft.
  • Captures the attention of a viewer much more readily than a digital device
  • It allows you to extend your creative workflow beyond the monitor and into the physical world.
  • Adds a whole new range of options to explore through the creative use of fine art paper
  • Finally, I strongly believe printing your work improves your photography in every way, from composition to technique.

Are there downsides? Perhaps, but only if you see these as downsides compared to the numerous long term rewards.

  • Paper and ink are expensive - Sure, but so is camera gear and the associated technology, and the investment in a printer, paper and ink is offset by the rewards listed above.
  • There’s a steep learning curve - Perhaps, but not if you focus on the core principles of printing and dedicate some time to learning the fundamentals. Like any other skill, it gets easier with practice and the right information.(That’s what I’m here to provide based on over a decade of printing and teaching.)
  • It’s cheaper to outsource - Definitely it is! But you spend time, money, and energy on your photography because you enjoy it and because it’s uniquely yours. The same can be said for printing yourself and the creative opportunities it provides when you can refine your vision and explore the amazing array of papers available today. The reward is the journey of learning what works best for you and your work, not letting someone else decide.

Now over to you.

[Exercise] Are there any mental roadblocks or misconceptions holding you back?

If they exist, you must acknowledge them and start breaking them down before you move forward. Otherwise, they will fester behind the scenes, working tirelessly to close your mindset and your confidence.

No need to write this down. Just think it over.

In the next lesson, we’ll explore the basic gear you need to start your printing journey.