How To Look At Photographs

by William Lulow

Everybody is taking digital pictures these days. The prevalence of iPhone users and digital point-and-shoot cameras has made looking at photographs a lot harder. I have friends who want me to look at their pictures and then hand me a small camera with a small LCD and expect me to examine their efforts. Others want me to look at their vacation photos and then call them up on their iPads. There is almost nothing as frustrating as looking at someone’s collection of 548 vacation pictures on a small camera or an iPad. This also means, thumbing or swiping through all of the mistakes as well as some good pictures.

This is not what I call looking at photographs. This is merely scanning the take! I submit to you that the intent of the act of photographing is to produce something of lasting value that can be appreciated from afar, if necessary, as well as studied up close and personal. This means that a “hard copy” print must be produced.

Call me old fashioned,  but photography’s intent from the very beginning was to make a lasting image that would withstand the test of time. One had to make an archival print that would not fade or yellow with age, and thus preserve a moment in time that could be enjoyed by countless generations.

When I do a portrait session, I always make at least one print to give to the customer. I think it is important for them to leave the studio with something tangible, not just a disc with so many computer files. So, I make an effort to give a good print.

When I go on vacation, I edit my images to try to come up with a dozen or so really stunning landscapes and not just images of me standing in front of some famous landmark. I try to put some thought into the process from the time I take out my camera to the moment that I’ve edited, cropped, adjusted and printed the image. So, a print is my ultimate goal.

There are other ways of showing off your photographs. There are quite a few companies these days (Shutterfly, Snapfish, to name two), that will print books, posters, prints, collages and the like for very reasonable costs. These can be shown around the house or just left on a coffee table for people to leaf through at odd moments. To me, this is the way photographs should be enjoyed.