Why I Choose to Print My Art Photography

Jessica Maleski

Date, 2019

A watershed moment.  As a community of photographers continually inspiring each other to perfect our craft, we have all had these moments at various times during our shared artistic journey.  A watershed moment is a significant turning point.  It is a life changing event in the artistic process that drives self discovery and takes your art to the next level.  It fundamentally changes the way you approach the camera and the overall artistic process.  Once you’ve experienced such a moment, it’s often hard (sometimes very hard) to look at your earlier photographs in quite the same way.  If you’ve been there you know exactly what I mean. 

My first watershed moment occurred when I first truly learned the ins-and-outs of how light is effectively captured by the camera lens.  This began my foray into controlled light photography.  Exploring the different elements and nuances of proper lighting has turned that initial foray into a 7 year long journey which has helped me grow tremendously as an artist.  That initial spark was just the inspiration I needed to push myself as a photographer and radically changed my way of approaching the camera and my art (for the better I think). 🙂

Print #3/52

So fast forwarding a few years, I found that I was simply at an impasse in my work.  I realized there was something missing from my artistic process but I couldn’t quite articulate what it was.  And then I stumbled across my second watershed moment.  I characterize it as a “stumble” because the answer had been staring me in the face for so many years but I never really saw it until now.  That’s how life goes sometimes, I guess.  Inspiration can come from so many unexpected places.  For me, it came in the form of a simple unassuming quote by Ansel Adams.

“The negative is comparable to the composer’s score and the print to its performance.” Ansel Adams

This quote had echoed in my mind for many years.  It wasn’t until recently that I finally understood the true essence of its meaning.  It seems like such a simple phrase but the words take on so many levels of meaning once you actually do it.  Print your photographs that is.  It seems so obvious in retrospect, but the only way to complete the artistic process that began with the click of the shutter is to push the print button. 

…the only way to complete the artistic process that began with the click of the shutter is to push the print button.

So why did it take so long for me to account for print as an integral part of the overall artistic process? It’s simple. As photographers, today we live predominantly in the digital realm. We capture images with our camera in the digital domain, store and process our photos on computers, and share our work with others via the internet. Digital is clean. Pristine. Efficient. But in reality, art is a reflection of what truly stirs the human soul. The height of our aspirations as well as the depths of our day-to-day struggles. Art in its true form is organic – flawed and imperfect. Like us. Printing your photographs brings your art to life.

The texture and weight of the print is art. The play of light which complements a black and white still is art. The subtly of colors is art. Your art now has an objective and independent existence. The photograph has been freed from the confines of the digital realm and has given its first performance in the real world. Display it in your home. Give it to your best friend as a special gift. Add additional artistic elements. Taking a little extra effort to print your best photos sets them apart from the hundreds of other shots that don’t quite make the cut. I am finding that it helps you to really focus as a photographer and artist.

I have printed just a handful of my art photos so far but I am really excited by the results and looking forward to the journey ahead. In lieu of another major photography project, I have decided to spend this year printing smaller works. My goal is to carefully and strategically learn from each print about any of the number of variables: ink, paper medium, color calibration, printer types, image size and quality. My hope is to form a community of photographers and artists who are also learning what it means to print our photos. I’ll be sharing my weekly print on Instagram using #commit2print. One print, once a week, for one year. If you are interested, join me! If you sign up below, I’ll just send a little reminder on Thursdays to make a print.

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