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Is the physical image dead/dying?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by OzRay, Apr 5, 2014.

  1. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    Kirk Tuck's post: http://visualsciencelab.blogspot.com.au/ certainly resonates with me and reflects what I've been thinking for a long time. All the young people that I know have little interest in prints and everything is viewed on their iPhones (predominantly) or iPads. I'm seeing the same even with older people, as they get drawn into the 'instant' life, because that's the only way they can communicate with their children, grand children etc. That also makes me wonder about the point of the ever increasing capability and quality of today's cameras, when most/all of the results are displayed and watched on mobile phones or small tablet/computer screens.

    I'm in that age bracket where prints mean something and I still like to produce prints, which is what is always in the back of my mind when I'm out taking photos, but it does look like a dying interest. One thing I haven't made for many years is a photo album, so maybe I'm halfway in that non-printing camp as well.
    • Like Like x 1
  2. DynaSport

    DynaSport Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jan 5, 2013
    Of course it's on the way out. I like prints so that dooms them to obscurity.
    • Like Like x 2
  3. HappyFish

    HappyFish Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 8, 2012
    couples still doing albums so thats not going away
    prints are becoming more art again if anything where people now are more into nice prints and a few nice ones over a bunch
    4x6 proofs went away years ago small 8x10 etc.. is all but gone but nice framed a few nice prints not huge even are still strong when its super high quality

    but in general for things yes the use is changed to online etc.. dramatically and I do think that has changed and why I am OK with what I shoot and not sure one needs more anymore unless they know they will be pushing that huge print or something
  4. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan
    Hi Ray!

    My last printed album was in 2006. I print now, but for wall display. The myriad of printed photo albums sit on bookshelves and are rarely viewed and I haven't done a "slide show" with 35mm slides and projector and screen in a couple of decades.

    So I print fewer, but larger pictures and they get displayed in frames until I'm tired of looking at 'em and replace 'em with another.

    I think you're right - "brag books" (the things grandma carries around in her purse with latest photos of grandkids) are now smartphones. Even the Princess of the Exchequer prefers digital version of the rugrats...ummmm...I mean "our grandkids". No muss, no fuss, she always has the latest copy, and she doesn't have to wait for me to print 'em.

    Of course this may lower the cost of the hobby - how great a lens does one really need to get a digital photo that's "good enough" for display on a 4" screen??? :biggrin:

    I have given up shooting film (and, of course, slides); occasionally the urge to pick up a used 35mm from B&H will strike but the cost of film and processing keeps me from pulling the trigger.

    Printing will stay here at the Swamp until I'm too old to load the printer; to me it's a large part of the hobby (which is why I print at home rather than farm it out to those companies who can do it cheaper - and probably better :wink: ).

    I wonder if Amin keeps statistics on the number of forum members who regard printing as a "must"?

    Ctein over at theonlinephotographer.com had an article awhile back touching on the subject:



  5. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    I'll still keep printing and have several large, framed, prints of mine on our walls. I guess I like seeing my own work in print and am happy to see other's work in pixels. :) 
  6. For me printing = big. Something I can hang on a wall and grab my attention from the other side of the room. I don't need to print small because I can view images in that size on a digital screen.
  7. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I print. I'd print more if I had more wall space. I love making photo books when I have time

    People still paint... and place them on display.
  8. Zee

    Zee Mu-43 Top Veteran

    I think this is happening everywhere. I'm in the AV industry, and let me draw the parallels....


    People are buying hi end ear phones, speakers, amplifiers etc, to listen to music that has been downloaded from iTunes at 128kbs. The smart ones will by the CD, and rip it in WAV/AIFF/FLAC, but most won't. In fact, I remember a study where teenagers were asked to listen to the same song back to back - one an MP3 at 128kbs, the other CD recording. They wanted to know what was wrong with the CD recording, because "it doesn't sound right".


    720P...1080P...4K...8K... And what are people watching on them? Cable TV, pirated movie/TV rips, iTunes video, Netflix... All of which "claim" to be 1080P, but let me tell you, you can't compress a 30GB 2hr movie in to 1GB and expect the quality to be the same. When people who buy their brand new 1080P or greater TV are asked if they want a Blu-Ray player (you know, th eONLY device that will give you the full quality image that you gave your money for), most will say "no, we have a DVD player already"...

    And yet, people are still insisting on getting as much resolution as they can pay for.

    Now the kids are wanting 20MP cameras in their phones, because, you know, 800 pixel wide images on Facebook need to be taken at 20MP to look "OK"...

    It just reminds me of how ignorant the general population is of most things, and how easily marketing folk can manipulate them...

    Back to prints... I think a time will come when people will start looking at prints in the same way as paintings. They will be seen as a higher level of art, but at the same time, a fairly niche market. It won't vanish, but it will be appreciated more as it becomes something very uncommon.

    Oddly enough, I am currently going through 7 years of photos so I can print up some coffee table books of my travels, and my time with my lady... Though it has proven to be a mission!

    • Like Like x 3
  9. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    I print TONS of 4x6 with some 5x7 every now and then...
  10. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan
    O.K., sometimes timing is everything.

    10 minutes ago one of my kids phoned The Princess to let her know he had emailed photos of one of the grandkids in his first swimming class.

    I opened 'em on screen, The Princess looking over my shoulder, and told her that one of 'em was possibly worth printing.

    I basically got a shrug - she's happy with the laptop view.



  11. kwalsh

    kwalsh Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 3, 2012
    Baltimore, MD
    Certainly horrid little shoe boxes full of rapidly fading 4x6s still in their envelopes from the 1hr photo mat are gone :smile:

    I think Facebook and Instagram have taken over for that.

    But there is something new under the sun though, and that is inexpensive photo books like Blurb. I wouldn't do that for my landscapes probably, those are electronic or wall prints and lets be honest no matter how wonderful your landscapes are for the most part no one gives a hoot and a five second glimpse online from someone is the best you can expect.

    But for family albums they are excellent and are something completely different than a blog or online gallery. You share a laptop or an iPad with a young child. There is something very different about receiving a book of the years events than a link to a gallery. This was not something economical or practical in the past. Certainly this niche is smaller than cellophane print albums every family had in the past, but at least for me within my extended family the yearly book of my daughter is a treasured item and largely because it is physical.
  12. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    Photobooks are certainly an option and they've come down in price considerably. I've always felt that a book/album is a far more tactile and personal style for viewing photos than a phone or tablet. No batteries/power required, usually no issues with viewing angles, easily stored, viewed any time etc.
  13. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 14, 2012
    New Mexico
    I' ve done photo restoration from prints stored in "horrid little shoeboxes" dating back the beginning of the 20th century -- and a few tintypes from way before that -- all family records. When I did a digital slide show for my mother's 90th birthday, I was very glad for those old, sometimes fading pictures, though her baby portraits were in wonderful shape.

    If anyone wants to be sure to have a record to present to posterity, they had better put it on archival analogue materials, which last longer and don't need programs to open. Ask any archivists about the dangers and challenges of digital archives without an analogue backup. Who knows ifr a tiff file -- if it happens to survive the ravages of time on a hard drive, flash drive, or CD -- will be readable in 50 years? People who constantly update their archive to new formats and back them up will probaby be OK, but digital version of the forgotten shoebox may well be unrecoverable. DO ANALOGUE BACKUPS OF ANYTHING YOU WANT TO SURVIVE OVER GENERATIONS. The national archive wants negatives, scans, and archivally processed prints for photos.
    • Like Like x 2
  14. HappyFish

    HappyFish Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 8, 2012
    the print has not gone and is not dying ! its just becoming more artistic and the amount is less but the production value is higher the print is now the Ferrari of the car world not the Honda you see everywhere thats all IMHO at least ;) 
  15. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    Agreed 100%
    When folks come over, I hand out albums for them to look at & pass around - instead of having 10 people huddle around a computer while I try and find what folder all the pictures are in....:wink::smile:
  16. rklepper

    rklepper Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 19, 2012
    Iowa, USA
    Vacations always are printed into books. I also print some for display. Prints will not go away. Although more will be shared digitally than through print.
  17. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    Quite a lot of people I know, in various age groups, print photo books. Few print big to out on their walls, etc. but that's because few of the people I know are all that interested in photography. I will say that the prints I have at the office and at home (animals/landscape/travel shots of mine) always get very positive attention and have inspired folks to occasionally print up something larger.

    For some things, a bright, contrasty iPad screen is nicer - some things benefit from a backlight. This is also why I think small prints are mostly a thing if the past. Why would you bother? The smallest I've printed in recent years is 20x30 for regular prints, and 20x20 for books (cm, not inches). And rarely that small for prints.
  18. speedandstyle

    speedandstyle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I think that prints will become less and less the common man's thing and more the artist's. Technology has made the image on a screen so easy and so sharable that prints are dying. However technology has now made it possible to print very nice images for low costs. Heck, I have a Canon 19x13 inch printer at work that cost about $200{after rebate}. A full size print on high quality paper costs a dollar or so.

    Let the mortals look at their screens and we photography gods will hang our prints on the wall!
  19. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    I actually fired up my Canon IPF5000 from its hibernation this afternoon to give it a look at the world and a bath. The last time I did any prints were about a year ago; I need to go and visit some opportunity shops and see if I can find some nice frames and maybe do a few prints for framing.
  20. janneman

    janneman Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 6, 2012
    Jan (John) Kusters
    It is not like physical prints in the past did better then modern files. Looking at others, the already mentioned shoebox has been the main destination for prints for as long as I can remember (I'm 53 now). Almost everyone I know or knew used to have an endless stack of boxes and envelopes 'I really should put in an album some day'. Some day usually never came, and only a few printed larger for wall display, took the trouble of filling an album (that, even when finished, rarely left the shelves) of put together a serious slide show.

    Now friends that have been on holiday either visit me with their camera and a cable to hook up to the tv, or -a surprisingly large number- even take the trouble of making a bit of a selection and run them through some program to turn them into a proper slide show on dvd. Or they post them on some picture site. All in all, looking at pictures with friends has improved quite a bit over the last few years; now at least I get to see their pictures.

    On many special occasions, like a friend turning 50 or a co-worker leaving, I see people coming up with printed photo books. Most are a lot more pleasurable too look at than the scrap books they used to make.

    And finally, those who used to print often still do, and some new people start to make occasional prints as well. Often larger and better then ever. I see photo wallpapers, large posters and garden posters popping up.

    All in all, viewing prints has changed. I get to see a lot more pictures today than I did 20 years ago. Part of the fear might be a slightly romanticised and not all together accurate idea about what people used to do with physical prints...

    Viewing pictures has changed,
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