Monday, March 2, 2015

What's in A Print? | Raleigh, NC Photographer

My parents are selling their house.; the very house that I came home to when I was just days old.  While the result is that they will soon be living much closer to me, it has been quite an emotional experience for me.  In the meantime, I’ve been going through a lot of stuff and memories.  As I sort through the stuff my parents send me and go through long forgotten boxes on the phone with my mother, I can't help but think about the role of photographs in my life. 

Every time I went home from wherever I was, one of my first activities on getting home was to thumb through the photo albums.  It didn’t matter if I was coming back from college across the country; graduate school across the world; my first ‘real’ job in the big city, my first big move with my then-fiance (now husband) or even now that I’ve settled down ,and have children of my own (maybe especially now).  I re-live the days of childhood birthday parties, school pictures with missing front teeth, friends, our mountain cabin that burned down.  Suddenly those memories, and those images flood back as though I could just be there again if I wished hard enough.  Now I look at them with my son, who asks all sorts of questions about “life when I was a baby” or “life when he was a baby,” and their value has risen all the more.

I do the same with photographs of my own children.  I sort through the baby photos I’ve printed out of my son, stare the new sample art pieces I’ve received which are my daughter’s newborn photos.  Remember the days when my tiny little babies were still tiny little babies and marvel at how big they have actually become.  I mean, when did that happen?

But here’s the thing.  I rarely look at the photos on the computer.  I don’t click through an online album at my fingertips.  I don’t sort through lightroom images.  I don’t plug in those CDs of professional photos I’ve been given over the years.  I look at the prints.  There’s something vicerally real about looking at a print copy.  A physical reaction that doesn’t occur as I sit and go through photos on my computer.  Don’t get me wrong, I love working through photos, sorting through the files and preparing the final versions.  But what I really love is receiving print orders and seeing my work ‘in real life’.  The light in your eyes as you take in that final product?  That's what keeps me doing what I do.

I’ve done a lot of soul searching in the years since I made the decision to take up photography as a profession rather than a hobby.  What started out as a resolve to offer only CDs and only digital images has turned into a desire to reacquaint people with the joys of the prints.  And I see it in my clients as well.  Shockingly beautiful archival prints that can be passed down through history to your children and to your children’s children are much more desirable products, in the end.  Like so many photographers before me, I’ve talked to many clients, mentors, and friends; poured over catalogues, and gone to trade show after trade show.  As I consider the growing philosophy behind my photography, I realize more and more the importance of the simple tangibility of the print.