Last week, I restarted my old "Print Every Day" challenge, which is a practice I've found to really drive my photography in a number of ways. The challenge is simple, every day, take an image from my enormous set of digital negatives, and make a print from it. I try and make it look good, but I do stop short of the multiple round trips I often give a print for my portfolio.
First, this has really built my digital imaging habits and skills. For example, I noot only know which pair of sliders give me the most bang-per buck in terms of recovering highlight deal, but my fingers know it too, it's past the point where I have to think about why it works, instead, I notice low-detail highlights (such as those that were first present to the left of the tree in the image above) and which knobs to work through.
Second, this drives me to go back and look through the archives. There are a lot of good images there, and a few great ones, that have never been shown, and some of those are going to get shared with you, and some of them may be the seeds for new groups of works, exhibitions, and so on.
Third, it's a great way to make sure that my brain never gets too far from the photography itself. The day to day work--say, putting together class notes--can be a lot of fun, but it isn't making photographs. That's the point, and one I don't want to get past.
Fourth, it's simply fun. Leaving the prints out in a place in my home where I can walk past them, reconsider them over the next days, takes me back to the experiences that led to those photographs, and gives me joy
Of course, many people don't have their own photo printers, but I'm increasingly convinced that serious photographers should have some way of making small prints at home. $1000 for an Epson 3880 may sound expensive, but the cost of it, including paper and ink, comes down to about $4/18x12 over a few years of expected lifetime of a printer like that, which is competitive to Costco, and doesn't require driving. Moreover, you will make more prints, and you will improve your photography and printing skills.
So, the gauntlet is thrown down, do you accept the Print Every Day Challenge? If so, leave a comment!