Print-makers v. Image-makers

Back in the day, the most common way to view a photograph was as a printed image (or occasionally as a projected slide). With the ubiquity of electronic screens today, we almost forget that prints (or the printed page) were always the final destination of any photograph worth keeping. Now, a very high percentage of photographs never make it to print and are only viewed onscreen. Consequently, those who came to photography in recent years may have little interest in the finely crafted photographic print.

I divide landscape photographers into two general camps: print-makers and image-makers. Print-makers are those photographers who have the final print in mind when they venture out, while image-makers are primarily concerned with sharing photos online, giving little thought to how the photo might eventually be printed. I'm over-generalizing here, but a print by a print-maker is likely to have certain qualities such as heightened detail and sharpness, delicate tones, and smooth gradients that are not likely to be present in the print by the image-maker, who is, after all, only mildly interested in the print as an art object.

When I came back to photography after a long hiatus (20 years or so), I came as an image-maker in the digital age. More recently, I've taken a deeper interest in the print as the ultimate destination of my images. While I'm still concerned about how an image looks onscreen, my primary concern now is how the image looks as a fine print under glass.