I like doing fine art prints, but I'm sure we all know that sometimes they can get a bit hair pulling when our anal retentiveness takes over and we can't get it just right. So last night after not being able to quite get a print, I decided to try something I've been meaning to do for a while, and boy did it ease me up. A few years ago I had this little epiphany that changed how I feel about photography. While looking at some old photos, and spending probably 20 minutes combing over one very nice large format made 5x7 image from 1946 with a loupe to examine all the details and read the little signs on the wall, I realized that the subject, no matter how boring or commonplace at the time of making the image, can become really interesting given half a century or so to age. From this I developed a philosophy of "What if I shoot & print with the intended audience being whoever finds this picture in a box 50 years from now?" And by playing the role of that audience and digging through our own boxes of prints, I realized two more things. A) The more recent prints made from low end 35 mm P&S, cheap digitals and the APS atrocity are just plain ugly next to the older stuff from large & medium format film, and that future generations are going to sadly not have as many lush, high detailed images from the period to comb over. B) Most of the older photos aren't exactly Ansel Adam's prints. Yet they still captive greatly due to the subject matter. So, onto the cool down exercise. For most of this year I've been shooting my snapshots, and local happenings with a Speed Graphic, with the intention of fulfilling part A of the above philosophy, but every time I'd get around to printing, the "I want to make fine art that people will admire now!" mind set would take over, and I'd never touch them. So last night after getting a little fed up with one print, I recalled point B. I replaced the negative with one of my random 4x5 snapshots, sized down the easel to 5x7, ran one quick test strip, and a quick print after that. Perfect! Well. Maybe not perfect in the sense of "Every tone most be exact and sharpness must be absolute or my critiquers will rip it apart until I cry little a newborn kitten" perfect. But perfect for the 95 year old man who requested I made him a photo of his niece to hang on the wall. And perfect for whoever finds it in his stuff many years after he dies. Perfect for the audience that doesn't care if the greatest dmax was reached, and doesn't care that there is a speck of dust on the image, as long as it isn't over someone's face. The actual act of finally making prints to fit this philosophy was a great relaxer and. The little time spent at the end of the session did a lot make it feel more productive. So now I think I figured out where these prints come into play. A cool down exercise for when my "fine art" printing has me wanting scream. Lot of fun to throw away the microscopic attention to detail, and still feel very productive.