By Mark Etinger
In this age of digital cameras, computers, Facebook and Flickr, photo prints you can hold in your hand seem to be in danger of extinction. The photo album is becoming a relic of the past.
The scrapbooking trend bucks this system, but the crafty aesthetic of zigzagged cut-outs and sticker frames isn’t for everyone.
1. Begin with a high quality photo. Digital photos should be high enough resolution to print at the size you want at 300 dpi (dots per inch).
2. Set your image processing software to your desired print resolution and not screen resolution.
3. Many printers on the market will produce a good-looking print these days. If you want to bump it up a notch, look for a printer that can use heavier or textured paper, such as premium matte photo paper, adhesive vinyl sheets and large format paper.
4. Paper. A good print requires good paper. Inkjet glossy photo paper will give you a bright, crisp image. Premium matte photo paper has a warmer, more subdued look.
Paper is fun–cotton rag, linen, pearl, canvas and vinyl–try a sample pack to see what you like working with. It can get expensive, but there are discount sources online, and after some playing around with sample packs, you’ll buy smarter.
5. Color management. This may be more scientific than you want to get, but if you’re ready to take home photo printing to the next level, read on.
Should you find that the color of your prints just isn’t matching up to the beautiful color of the image on your monitor, ICC (International Color Consortium) Profiles can help you with controlling the accuracy of color between your camera, display, and printer.
Ask your paper manufacturer for the ICC profiles for your printer, or visit color.org for more information.
6. Experiment! This is why photo paper sample packs are so great.
You’re not just printing, you’re making art. Trial and error are part of the process.
7. Displaying your photos. You can get really DIY with this, or you can keep it simple.
I’m a fan of looking at photos I love on a regular basis, and favor wall display over photo albums. Premium matte photo paper, heavy canvas or watercolor rag looks elegant pinned to the wall, even without a frame.
If you don’t want to put holes in your print, you can follow the gentler gallery aesthetic of hanging paper with binder clips nailed to the wall. Take the gallery idea a step further and rotate your “exhibit” every so often for a fresh look.
If you don’t have the wall space, or prefer to archive your prints rather than look at them on a daily basis (It was a great honeymoon, but…), the sky’s the limit.
Here are two ideas I tend toward.
For albums, how about black pages, photo corners and a little note in white pencil under the photo? For boxes, why not make tiny prints and fill a decorated Altoids tin for the sweetest brag box ever?
8. This is about reclaiming a lost art, and reinventing it. Have fun and trust your eye!
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