Printique, the photo print division of Adorama, makes prints. Big, small, textured, smooth, loose, bound in a book, made of canvas, or box framed for a place on the wall. Not just prints. Beautiful prints. We are working with them and they are a new affiliate! This is our first Printique print foray to write about and share since in the past I’ve known them as AdoramaPix.
Printing. Ink on paper. What a concept. Old as time, old as rhyme, as they say. But, perhaps, now, a touch forgotten, or, better said, not thought of as readily, as we stand in the daily digital hailstorm of our lives.
Pictures on a screen snap to, and have impact. But you can’t hold them. The screen glows and beckons, and certainly commands attention, if only fleetingly. There are various studies you can consult, but the consensus is that nowadays, our attention span hovers in the 8-10 second range. Maybe less. The stupefying onslaught of information, much of it visual, pounds our brains certainly, and potentially, can harden our hearts.
Our profession, of course, is right in the digital thick of things. Cameras now have serious connectivity abilities, and onboard editing tools. From the click of the shutter to the Instagram image getting liked in London, Beijing, or Beirut is now a matter of seconds. Amazing. Cool. Hip. Sometimes a necessary and good thing, when for instance, reporting the news. A split second for the shutter to make the picture, a few seconds to drop it into the maw of the Internet and hence the world, another split second for somebody to “like” it. And then, mostly, a few seconds to simply forget it.
But a print…..a beautiful, deep, resonant accounting of the picture in question, that’s fuel for your memory. And your sense of quietude. A print of a powerful picture soothes, or nettles, your soul. It’s a matter of connecting with a multiplicity of your senses. How many folks take Advil at the end of a day when your eyeballs have been velcroed to a screen? That’s because the screen shouts at your retinas, all day long.
But not the print. The print is not just for the eyes. An excellent print involves many of the senses. Sight, of course. But also touch. The texture of a print is important to the message of the print. Smell. I’m not crazy. There’s a wonderful smell to ink on paper, like when you’ve cracked open a brand new, richly printed magazine. Wonderful.
This may be a layover from my early days in NY as a newspaper copyboy, when I would be sent down to the press level to shoulder a freshly bound stack of 50 one stars (tomorrow’s paper), pungent as newly baked bread, and trundle them across the street to Louie’s East to distribute that stack to the paper’s editors, reveling in the passing of the first deadline of the night. There, the smell of the newsprint would mingle with the smell of rounds of boilermakers.
I just received my first set of prints from Printique. I punted around a bit, using different papers, with varying textures. I tried black and white, files with slam dunk colors, and those with subtle color shadings. Beautiful results returned, in unbelievably quick fashion. Boxed and safe. A digital file or scan, leaping from my screen onto paper, and given new life on my walls.
If there’s a silver lining to the pandemic, it’s been home time. Time with loved ones, time for introspection, planning, rummaging. And for looking at the walls. In our house, memories are on the walls, everywhere. Prints. Ink on paper. They give pause and prompt the head and heart to listen to the echoes of life lived, those lovely burbles of rumination and feeling which too often get trampled by the big foot of the day’s digitally delivered news reports. Or the crush of email, or the zoom roster on the calendar.
And books. My photo library has seen me through the times of COVID, for sure. I can’t really get out and work, so I revel in the work that has gone before. I fell in love all over again, for instance, with Albert Watson’s book, Cyclops. Reason? Stunning pictures, beautifully printed. A gallery, if you will, in my hands.
When I made my selections on the Printique site, I chose an array of paper styles and sizes. I was extremely pleased by the portrait of a Romanian miner, rendered in B&W and color.
The retention of detail in the cowboy’s hat is the key to this image. Tough one to print, and it was rendered beautifully.
My friend Les, playing the sax on a Brooklyn subway platform is another difficult print to make. Strong sidelight, deep shadows. Really pleased of the color in the sax, especially.
I’m loving the fact of the print, all over again. It really is the reason we put a camera to our eye. The print. It’s the proper destination for all those worthy pictures. There’s a reason, when the building’s on fire, people grab the pets….and the family album. Ink on paper. A picture in your hands.
Bob Grutzmacher says
My Grandfather, Father, and brother were all printers. Mostly magazines. One of my favorite memories is when dad brought home a sample and the first thing I would do is SMELL it. Years later when the National Geographic was delivered, in its sealed plastic envelope, I would rip it open, open it up and inhale. I could smell dad. I still do do this from time to time, but I do look around and check if anyone is watching me :-)))
Dave Barnes says
I love your commitment to the hard copy. It, too, is an art form that in turn amplifies the original image in your mind. Thanks for the reminder/stroll down memory lane.
Joe McNally says
I hear ya, Bob….just a beautiful, tactile, sensory experience all around. Plus the evocation of memory….all best…
Joe McNally says
All best, Dave….the print of a beautiful photo is powerful, tangible…right there with you…
Attn: Tom Ogle says
At 65, I bet I’ve printed less than 1% of all my imagery, from shooting Kodachrome 64 decades ago to digital today. I don’t miss film, I miss more wall space and a bigger print budget. If the prints don’t bankrupt you, the framing always will.
Marco Garavaglia says
Hi Joe, Another timely blog of the virtues of prints. We have an excellent lab in Flint, MI called JD Labs. That’s where I have prints made and you can attest to. Hope this year we are able to do more photography than last. It’s been a bit slow as other projects have precedence. I am hopeful . Be well.
Dave Prelosky says
Just wondering if you also “print at home” for a immediate “feel ” good” I have a hella time getting my Canon calibrated, but when I do… Then there is the work I send out that just comes back right
Jay Mann says
I don’t consider the image finished until it is printed. Many never see a frame, but going through a pile of them, holding them, moving them so the light does not flair, seeing all the detail…… like you said it is a tactile experience. Just happy my hands don’t smell like fixer anymore.
Carol Davis says
It is great to see a blog post about the passion of the print. There is nothing better than seeing your work finished, just as it should be, on paper of our choosing as the maker. The emotion of smell, you convey so well within this post, it brought me back to the darkroom days or maybe even Christmas morning the smell of new electronics being opened. The senses are such a integral part of being a photographer and as such, thank you for reminding me to breath
william carter says
Hi Joe. Hope you folks are all well. The print really does tell it all. Whether it is just a snapshot or a very formal print. Whether is is created or spontaneous. They will always be timeless keepers of the way things were. These prints are very nice.
Joe McNally says
The print is the destination, for sure….all best, Carol
Joe McNally says
Very good quality…they look, and feel, good….
Mark Foster says
Growing up in the digital age, my final photos tended to live on my phone or computer for the convenience of having them there whenever I wanted them. One of my favorite memories as a photographer however was gifting an athlete’s mom with a photo I took of them at a race; it hangs in their house to this day. My goal one day is to have a big enough photography portfolio to have a photo book to sell, but until then, I’ll keep going out and just taking pictures. I also loved when you said, “The print. It’s the proper destination for all those worthy pictures,” I’ve had pictures that I’ve always thought would look amazing on prints but never had the courage to actually print one. Maybe I’ll build up the courage to print one and hang it on my wall one day.
Joe McNally says
Definitely go for it, Mark!
I can’t remember the last time I had a large print on my hands, perhaps the good old film days. It’s great that you guys have there in the US such nice and affordable alternatives. Here in Mexico prints are soooooo expensive. And me as a broke amateur can’t have the luxury of sending my pictures to print. Recently I made one maternity photoshoot and there are a couple of images that I would love to have had printed. Well, maybe later. But still I love the idea.
Tim Siegert says
I LOVE Joe’s work!
Lauren Martin says
I agree with this so much. This is one of the reasons why I haven’t subscribed to eBooks, much like viewing printed images, reading for me is a more of a one and one experience between printed words.
William Carter says
Hi Joe. It is nice to see the pandemic partially on it’s way out. I print my own images. Most taken of high school athletes who are friends of the family. I do not charge. Memories are for everyone. Be well.