The Print

by Jody Lepinot

I recently received an email from Epson that contained links to short videos in which several professional photographers were discussing the relevance of the print in today’s electronically oriented society. They each talked a bit about their work and their inspiration, and then about the importance of the print. You might have guessed that the discussions would come around to printing when Epson is involved, but it was not an ad for printers, but a personal appreciation of the print itself.

J. P. Caponigro, creator of what he describes as “visionary landscapes with impossible symmetries” says that for him “looking at prints is an event”. He believes that looking at prints make you slow down and really consider something. A viewer of his work once said that he had seen one of his images before on the web, but until he saw the print, he never really understood it. Caponigro accepts printing as a challenge to help him understand his images and his vision more clearly. He loves the feel of the matte paper he chooses to print on. It adds to the organic feel of his images. The print to Caponigro is durable, it persists in your environment, and doesn’t go by in a millisecond as an image on a screen does. It is his legacy.

Jeremy Cowart, fine art portrait photographer says “when you nail a print, it’s so much better than anything a screen can ever represent”. He has a great interest in paper. Cowart feels that a print on paper is special to hold in your hands, and the feel of the paper itself contributes a different feeling to the print. He says that you notice the light, composition and color in a different way in a print than on screen, and that you have to experience it to understand that. 

Gregory Crewdson describes his photographs as “pictures concerned with coming together of beauty and sadness - the tension between stillness and unease - about a search to make a connection with something larger than yourself. For Crewdson, looking at the print is like being for the first time engaged in a description of his own world as an artist. He sees the meaning in the smallest detail in a way that he can’t on a computer screen. He wants viewers to come up close to his prints and not have anything like grain or any printing artifact in the way. His prints are of exquisite quality. He leaves a 3” border around each one, and frames them without matting so that the paper becomes part of the experience of the picture. 

Steve McCurry says that his images are about spontaneity. He has explored many countries and cultures and shares with us his interest in human behavior and the human condition. McCurry says that he wants people to remember his work through the prints he has created. He compares them to a book or novel - something well-crafted that you want to touch and feel.

For Mark Seliger, “the end result is obviously a print”. Seliger is a portrait photographer, drawn to a subject’s essence, to share their experience. He feels that the print is a much more fulfilling experience for the viewer than looking at a computer screen. Seliger says “when an image is transformed into a final print… it becomes an object…and the image takes on a dimensional quality with tactile feeling…” He says that each time you view a print, it tells a different story. That idea that the print will outlast the photographer is important to Seliger. Permanence and stability make power.

Steven Wilkes’ photographs celebrate what he finds beautiful. He tells difficult stories in powerful, poignant, yet beautiful ways. For him, “the quality of the print is everything.“ He feels that all of the steps in his work are reflected by the print, and the print is the original. Wilkes says that he doesn’t know how long a digital file will last, but the print is his legacy.