Print is dead!

Started Jul 20, 2014 | Discussions thread
Robin Casady Forum Pro • Posts: 12,898
Large prints are more popular than ever.

manhattan wrote:

With the exception of wedding, commercial and senior portraits I think with the exception of the occasional photograph that print is dead. People are much more interested in simply sharing for a moment on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. They are not interested in the extreme quality that a D810/5D can produce as long as the photo captures them in an exceptional location, pose or group setting. There are exceptions of course, but really makes you wonder what the future of photography is? We already have seen phones basically destroy the low end point and shoot market. People are happy with less and showing they are simply not interested in paying for more.

I have been thinking about upgrading to a new D810 for several reasons, but wonder if the only person who will really appreciate any improvements will be me. I seriously don't think others will either notice or appreciate.

Maybe this is our "CD Moment"? Just like when the obvious quality in vinyl records was replaced by cheap and inferior sounding CDs. Digital makes it easy, light, portable and shareable. Hmmm.

If you were only talking about 3x5" prints, you might have a point, or you might not. Look at how many photo quality home printers are made. Look at how many of them will print 13x19"

In the mid to late 20th century, most people took their film to the drug store and had 3x5" prints made. Occasionally, they had an 8x10 print made. 16x20 prints were very rare.

The enthusiasts who owned 35mm SLRs often shot slides and subjected their friends to slide shows of their travels. These slides rarely got printed. To get 16x20 color prints made you usually had to go to a service that catered to professional photographers. There weren't a lot of these services around. From West Los Angeles I had to drive into Hollywood to find one.

Another group of enthusiasts had darkrooms—often in a bathroom or closet. They typically printed 8x10 B&W. To print 16x20 was more difficult, required more space, and was quite expensive. In the 1980's color became feasible in the home darkroom with Cibachrome, but it was even more expensive, and getting color right was a pain.

Around this time there were fools who worried that the cheap Instamatic cameras, and later disposable cameras, would kill professional photography. Disposable cameras were placed on the tables at wedding receptions. The guests were to use them and leave them on the table. The hosts would send them in to be developed and then share the photos with all who were interested. Who would need a wedding photographer?

Well, it seems there are still a lot of wedding photographers around. The access to cheap cameras actually raised people's interest in photography on a personal level.

The ubiquity of camera phones has hurt the P&S camera market just as digital P&S cameras killed the cheap film camera. However, it hasn't lowered the number of large prints being made. People are now producing and consuming more photographs than they ever have before. This seems to have led them to be more open to displaying photos on walls. My parents' home was filled with oil paintings and watercolors. Mine is filled with photographic prints.

The waiting room at my dentist's office is lined with wildlife photos on canvas. My doctor's office has as many photos as watercolors and etchings. You often find photos on the walls of hospitals.

Photo prints are more popular than ever.

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Robin Casady
"Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please."
—Mark Twain

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