Does holding a print change the photograph

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Christopher Colley, Dec 11, 2011.

  1. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    Holding a photograph means that -- regardless of print size -- it is typically 18-24" away, whereas a framed print on the wall is not necessarily viewed at a fixed distance and more likely a 'suitable viewing distance' away. So, yes, the same image looks quite different due to change in viewing distance.
     
  2. Ian Leake

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    There was an interesting post in the HBR blog recently about how people value physical objects more than their virtual/digital equivalents. The authors’ research showed that this is due to the sense of ownership we have over something we can hold.

    I think there are strong parallels with prints. Each stage of a print’s journey, from the wet print in a tray to a framed photograph on a wall, changes the nature of our physical engagement. In the darkroom we have close, personal and exclusive engagement with our work. A matted print (or a handmade artist’s book) is probably the nearest to this experience that a non-printer can get. A framed print on the wall is a whole body experience, and also bestows some form of status to the photograph because someone obviously thought it was sufficiently important to hang it.

    I enjoy all these engagements, but most of all I enjoy framed photographs. I loaned some framed prints to a friend over Christmas, and this is great because it means I can put some new ones up on our wall.
     
  3. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

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    I haven't read the whole thread but has anyone else mentioned Schrodinger's cat?
     
  4. No
     
  5. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    No/Yes
     
  6. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    while i originally said i like handheld prints and books
    i have turned a new leaf and now present my work via an epson overhead projector
    and a white or black cloth or a chalkboard. i also only present things on a cathode ray tube based monitor
    kind of like maxx headroom.
    i sometimes make physical prints for myself but ive decided life's to short.
    i'd rather have an image projected that way if someone gets too close
    they just see their shadow
     
  7. Yes/No/Maybe
     
  8. Theo Sulphate

    Theo Sulphate Subscriber

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    Totally agree. But, since I can't have that, holding the prints in hand, touching and tilting the paper to view it, is far more satisfying than looking at a wall mounted print for me.

    Imagining the scenario which would lead up to that fling is kinda hot. I'll take it.


    I have a photo of Schrödinger's cat, but I haven't developed it. So do I really have a photo of the cat?
     
  9. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i was on an island last summer ( july 3 ) photographing the place.
    i wrote a essay about it, the place was really intense. i had never been there at high tide it was a spiritual trip ..
    anyways i exposed a series of glass plates, and never processed them ..
    and i have been thinking of the same riddle - are the images or just memories
    some might refer to them as latent images but they are more than that sometimes.
    i did manage to make an offering for a leaf and was able to make this print
    https://www.photrio.com/forum/media/leaf-from-the-dancing-tree.55382/
     
  10. blockend

    blockend Member

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    Privileging any image by placing it behind glass and hanging it on a wall changes its meaning. At the very least it suggests the picture is in some way important and bears repeated viewing. If it is not you have to ask whether it wouldn't be better in an album, a box or a book, to be pored over at an appropriate time. Much, though by no means all creative and personal photography (as opposed to journalistic or documentary photography) is social in nature, to be passed around and discussed.
     
  11. Theo Sulphate

    Theo Sulphate Subscriber

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    I think this is a very serious question and not an easy one to answer. My thoughts: at the point where it becomes more of a spiritual experience, I think printing the images would detract from the experience; they cannot capture what you felt. Each person has to make their own choice about it.
     
  12. I appreciate having mounted prints on the walls and I have a number of them on my walls.
     
  13. Theo Sulphate

    Theo Sulphate Subscriber

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    I was concerned that too much of my wall space would be occupied by photos, thereby destroying the simplicity and solace of having a nice uncluttered surface. So I made a bunch of photos of my wall and hung those up.
     
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  15. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    My continuing career has shown me that its all about the print, without handling the print , putting the print in a matt with corners, picking a suitable frame and then hanging the image is my whole life... I cannot imagine how there are people who say they are
    photographers but do not cherish this cycle. I am even more excited about the print when I switched from glossy paper to matt paper, then started Pt Pd and now duo and tri tone gums.. I really enjoy being able to look at these prints and understand the makeup of them.
    I think this is why I became a printer for others, as even if its not my image , the creation of the print to please the author is rewarding, dead or alive it seems I get the same satisfaction.
    A well processed print with careful attitude towards archival methods allows us to leave behind a permanent record for future viewing of our day to day lives, whether its social documentary, still life, portraits of simple or great people of our times.

    I also find it amusing that our schools (in most part) have abandoned this beautiful cycle of process and enjoyment , to be replace by critical thinking and writing on why that couple decided to urinate on that wall... Just sayin, its about time that at least one school in each country dedicated money, resources and energy to teach how to make images that will last, and it has been rumoured what we do is the way to do it.
     
  16. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Just saw this is a really old thread.. my statements would have been the same 10 years ago.
     
  17. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    There are two people I'd definitely like to take a printing workshop from - one of them is Bob Carnie.
    The other is Tod Gangler, but that would be impractical, because there is no chance I'll ever be able to be setyp for 4 colour carbon.
    Mainly because of their enthusiasm for the result.
     
  18. Theo Sulphate

    Theo Sulphate Subscriber

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    That cycle means nothing to me because for the first 40+ years of my life I had neither the money, means, nor place to do that. My prints resided in boxes and I enjoyed them. Then again, I'm an engineer, not a real photographer.
     
  19. blockend

    blockend Member

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    The pleasures of the print are different. I enjoy a beautifully printing image full of rich silvery greys, but I also like a dog-eared snapshot, or a good photobook. I'm less keen on photographs on screen for the same reason I dislike Kindle books, there's no tactile element and viewing is tiring. Fine printers seem to have caught on to the pleasure of the photograph devoid of mattes and glass, and often show and sell with the print wall mounted by pins or magnets.
     
  20. faberryman

    faberryman Subscriber

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    I don't consider a print finished until it has been properly matted. I don't get any particular thrill from handling an unmounted print. Everybody's different, I guess.
     
  21. blockend

    blockend Member

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    To my eyes a lot of photography is presented unimaginatively, including in the gallery. Endless black or brushed chrome frames that try to make some not particularly interesting shot important by entombing it in rag card and glass. The negative is endlessly reproducible, at least theoretically, and mimicking the formality of the hung painting seems needlessly precious and hands-off. It's as though this form of presentation has established itself because people aren't sure what status the photograph has as an artefact.

    While I still print in the darkroom I've come to the conclusion that a well printed book is as good a way as any of looking at themed bodies of photographic work.
     
  22. miha

    miha Member

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    Hi blockend, Are you sure about the status? If you are, please explain your understanding.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2017
  23. faberryman

    faberryman Subscriber

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    How would you suggest presenting photographs other than by book?
     
  24. cowanw

    cowanw Member

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    Re Bob,Well worth the trip to Toronto, Perhaps in May for the Contact Festival.
     
  25. blockend

    blockend Member

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    I mean their status as object in the world, as artefact and financially. A snapshot in a photofinisher's envelope and a fine print are essentially the same thing, except one is handled freely and passed around at family gatherings, the other hung on a gallery wall, the library of a collector or corporate boardroom. Of the two, the first as at least as rewarding to the viewer as the second.

    Financially the status of photography has been a mixed bag, depending on factors like who took the photograph, whether the photographer made the print, and how many are around. I'm not sure if it's still the case, but you used to be able to purchase a photograph by Walker Evans or Dorothea Lange for a small sum of money from the appropriate government department. When I checked earlier this year, of the most valuable photographs in history at auction, only one was from the "classical" period, most were created in the last two decades, and the majority were very recent prints from art-photographers few of us would have heard of. Craft printing of the kind that concerns this forum was notable by its absence. In the bigger financial picture the status of photography does not seem to be bound up with technical presentation or artisan skill.
     
  26. miha

    miha Member

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    I very much agree with the above. Most of my photographs reside in photo albums which is IMO where they belong. There are exceptions, of course.