On Prints vs the Web as the Primary Medium

Paul Butzi mentions on his blog he’s getting a little burned out on printing lately.  Me, I’m ramping up again after a long drought of little printing.  And I’m really enjoying it.

I’ve been thinking a little bit about this topic lately of prints vs. the web.  A lot of photographers still seem to uphold the print as the ultimate end result of the photographic process.  There is a sort of casual derision of the web as a medium, with comments like “of course you can’t really see this properly in a tiny web JPEG, you need to see the print to really appreciate it”.

I understand that logic.  The print is a different medium, and it has vastly different properties of viewing, interaction, color gamut, etc.  And it can be very rewarding to pursue good prints, for whatever purposes they may be useful.  And some images that don’t work really well on the web look great as prints.  It’s a lovely feeling to hold a good print in your hand, or see one on your wall.

However, I think it’s a mistake to dismiss the web as a medium.  We’ve long passed the time when prints were the primary medium for viewing other photographer’s work.  For most of us, the main medium of viewing these days is the web.  For many, many photographers, the only place a significant viewership for their work will be found is on the internet.  It can be a phenomenal platform for showing your own work and getting inspired by others’ (and depressing, but that’s another story I won’t go into here; I’ve seen a lot of bad prints too).  I find viewing images on the web, if they have been prepared with care, can be quite rewarding.  And for me, personally, the web is my first and primary photographic medium for display of my work.

That’s probably the main reason I have never felt the urge to splurge on really expensive printers.  If I want to show a piece of work I put it up on the net.  If I need to make a typical print, my 13×19 archival pigment printer does a fine job.  If I need to go really big, occasionally, I’ll farm it out to one of the many web-based services that do large prints.  But for me, the web remains my primary target (although I did enjoy the book-making exercise of SoFoBoMo quite a bit).

How about you?  Prints or web as your main medium?

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