There’s no point in taking a great photo just to print it out on poor equipment that won’t do the image justice. When planning out how to spend your photography budget, don’t blow it all on the camera – you need a good printing set up too. Here’s why upgrading your printing setup is vital for photographers.
If you want to sell your work, you’ll need physical prints. As much as we would all love to shed our physical forms and live in an exclusively digital world, we are still bound by conventions, and convention says that to sell art, you have to see it in person. If your portfolio is to represent you and your brand of artistry, it has to show off only the best of you. Selecting the best photos won’t do if you’re printing them with substandard equipment. When printing with HP toner cartridges, the toner powder will fuse with the paper, meaning you’ll have less smudging than with ink. But for the most high quality reproduction of your photo, you’ll want a top-of-the-line inkjet printer and good photo paper to match.
To sell your work in a gallery, you want large high-quality prints of your work. Your portfolio was the practise piece – this is the big performance. Letting your photos be represented in the best light is about more than the window positions in the gallery you’re showing your work in – it’s about your printing setup. And it’s about more than just your printer too – the wrong paper will leave your work looking shoddy. Better inks and toners will do a better job of hitting the exact right shade. Using the highest DPI (dots per inch) that your printer offers will blend the pixels of your image perfectly so it captures the realism of your subject, as if the observer isn’t even looking at a photo, but into a window of the past and seeing the moment this photo was taken.
Even New Gets Old
If you’re reading this and thinking you’ve nailed it already and bought the best camera, the best programs, and the best printer, don’t get too comfortable – technology develops too quickly for the best product to stay that way for long. Upgrading your printing setup isn’t a one-and-done kind of thing – it’s a constant struggle to keep up. So if you find your work isn’t ahead of the curve anymore, or if your well-loved printer is starting to make some concerning sounds, it might be time to consider a replacement. For any artist, it’s always wise to shake things up and try new things, like new types of paper.
Taking a good photo in the first place is only half the battle – digital manipulation of your image is important too. The right programs will do half the work for you, but as you edit, you should be thinking about how you’re going to print the photos. There are a lot of choices you still have to make, like the depth of black and the colour scheme, but whether the photos are blurry and monochromatic or sharp and vibrant, they will look different depending on the printer you use and the type of paper you choose. Changing any given setting at any time throughout the photography, editing, and printing stages will result in a very different print, so think about the style of prints you want to end up with, and adjust your printing setup accordingly.
There may be a lot of trial and error involved in getting the perfect print, but that’s why it’s so much fun. It’ll be well worth it in the end when you see your work hanging in a gallery. Delight in the knowledge that the work that you’re proudest of will one day pale in comparison to the photos you have yet to take.