Monday, July 18, 2005

Printing Digital Photos

by Christina VanGinkel

I sent away for a sample pack of photo paper from last week. When it arrived, it contained the same photograph printed on three different papers, with two in color and the third printed in black and white. The papers themselves consisted of their regular photograph paper, a paper specially designed for digital black and white, and their spectacular metallic paper. By printing the same picture on the three different papers, it made it easy to see what each paper offered the final print.

As soon as I saw their metallic paper, I was in awe. It gave the print such an unusual crispness, the picture seemed to almost pop right off the paper. The paper designed for digital black and white prints also provided what it advertised; the paper allowed for a print that offers excellent tone reproduction, something that is often neglected when printing from a digital file.

It also reminded me of why I so enjoy digital photography and everything that is associated with it. An amateur photographer such as myself was once limited to a very set standard for printing. With all the innovations surrounding digital photography, it has opened doors for the amateur that otherwise would not ever have existed.

Printing on canvas is also available at several online printing outlets. As is print-to-order mugs, calendars, tote bags, clock faces, and other novelty items. With little more than a digital camera and an online connection, it is possible to make a one of a kind item to use as a gift or to produce in bulk to sell.

A person I know snapped some very cute photographs of her dog's litter of puppies. She added a few captions she thought up herself that both fit the pictures, and were generic enough to appeal to a large audience. She had several of the pictures printed on a handful of t-shirts and mugs, and sold them at a very nice profit at a local craft show she had a booth at already. She actually made double the profit from her photographic endeavor than she did from her typical booth sales.

After her success, I have been inspired to create items for sale from my digital photography. I occasionally attend a few local craft shows, and feel that my photographs of the local black bear population have the potential to be good sellers if I print them on quality paper and a few items that people always seem to enjoy, such as mugs and tote bags. For the prints, I am going to try both the metallic paper and the black and white geared for digital printing. I plan to mat and frame a few and to make note cards by applying the pictures to pre-cut cardstock.

With a digital camera, practice, and a bit of planning, almost anyone who puts out the effort can produce work that was once only available to the most experienced photographers. As with many of the innovations associated with the computer age, digital photography has opened doors, we just have to walk through them.

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