> I was stunned to read in a comment to my last column that, “…photographers who hand their images to someone else for printing are abdicating part of their artistic responsibility.” Oh man, I can’t let something that wrong pass*….
> Failing the absolutism test is sufficient reason to damn it, as I’ve already argued in 2.5 columns. But worse, I think it’s specifically bad advice. Printing takes a lot of time, money, and energy. No photographer is given an unlimited supply of any of those. Resources you devote to printing are ones you cannot devote to making more photographs, making more timely photographs (which may matter), learning and practicing how to make better photographs (which definitely matters), even traveling to more interesting locales to make photographs (travel being another one of those things that consumes time, money, and energy).
Ctein makes a really good point here. It’s a subject I’ve been thinking about a lot more as I’ve spent more and more time in the darkroom printing. (Note: I’m not doing anything unusual or interesting in that department — just standard black and white.)
Printing is a lot of fun, and I greatly enjoy doing it. And it’s also, at times, been a source of incredible frustration for me when I hit a technical wall with a particular negative or a particular technique…and in both cases, I need to occasionally remind myself that I don’t want to be a great printer who occasionally makes photographs; I want to be a photographer who sometimes prints his work.
This is also why I have avoided — like the plague — getting into doing my own prints from digital sources. The cost in time and money is simply not worth it to me. That may change at some point, of course, but for now, I think it’s a wise decision.