Forget the JPEG – Its All About the Print

I was quietly reminded yesterday after visiting Nick Brandt’s current ‘A Shadow Falls’ African Wildlife exhibition at Source Photographica in Melbourne (which is truly stunning by the way and not to be missed) of how the Fine Art Photographic Print is most definitely the ultimate medium for photography. And that online representations are a poor facsimile by comparison; a concept I think the casual online viewer may well fail to grasp in this digital age – or perhaps to be fair it just may not occur to them.

Those beautiful tones that can be so expertly and exquisitely crafted and captured on the printed page are all to often lost in the back lit screen of an LCD monitor. With so many photographers displaying their work on the internet it seems almost the defacto standard for judging the quality of ones work; when the real yard stick is in fact the print. It is the printed page that is the key to unlocking the full tonal range, textures, colours and subtleties of a photograph – It is the online compressed jpeg that is the brochure for the final print. Its the catalogue from which a potential viewer or purchaser can choose. It is most definitely not a tool by which to measure the quality of the final print.

After all, you really cant appreciate the bullets a photographer has sweated to get just the right tones or just the right color and depth to an image in an online jpeg. But in the print… the constraints are removed and the image can truly shine. Visiting an exhibition of beautifully crafted prints such as ‘A Shadow Falls’ is a timely reminder to both the visiting photographer and casual viewer that the true magic is most definitely in the final print and not the online jpeg.

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