I’m running out of ways to creatively say some version of “print yer damn work!” But seriously, print yer damn work. Live with it. Study it. Hold it in your hands. Give it away. Experience the joy of seeing it matted and framed and hung on walls. For some that means using a service like mPix or WHCC or, my preference these days, Artifact Uprising.* For others it means printing at home. Printing at home – doing it yourself – is a learning curve, and it means buying a printer, but it’ll teach you more about your photographs than just looking at it on a screen. Everyone I know that prints does it for a variety of reasons, but almost all of them agree – it makes them a better photographer. Print your work.
If printing at home is an option and you’re looking for a recommendation, then here’s mine: get Martin Bailey’s eBook, Making the Print (it’s only $5), and get an Epson P800 printer. The P800 replaces the much-revered 3880, and from reviews, and my own first experiences, it’s excellent. I’ve just finished matting and framing and putting up 3 images from recent work in Venice, and they look incredible. The printer isn’t huge, at least not compared to the massive sofa-sized 7900 I used and swore at for the last 2 years (it made beautiful prints but was a beast), and it sits nicely on my work surface. It’s easy to use, has a great interface, and unlike the predecessor, the 3880, it prints wirelessly (set up was super easy, which is good because Epson still won’t put a freaking USB into the box) and it takes roll media with the sold-separately roll spindle. It prints up to 17″ wide, which means I can use my favourite 17×22 papers. I can’t comment on other brands – I’ve used 4 different Epsons in the last 5 years – but my first impressions of the Epson P800 are the strongest I’ve had so far. I already love printing on this – and if you love printing, instead of feeling like you need to drink heavily before you turn the thing on, you’ll probably do it more. (You can find it on Amazon.com for $1200)
Don’t be that photographer that never sees his photographs in the real world, or whose best work only ever sits on her harddrives and iPhones. Print it. Get it out into the real world. With whatever printer or service you prefer – but seriously, print your work.
*See the comment from Bill McQuarrie below, he makes some good points about going small and local with your choice of printing service providers.
Tell The World
Don’t forget, we’re going offline with the blog next week, but maybe check out the new Vision Is Better show on YouTube. Episode 07 – It’s Not About the Mirrors, comes out on Monday. Join me as I roll the magic 8 ball and tell you which mirrorless camera you should really get.
I am about to embark on the journey to print my work, and I remembered you have a great piece about this (this one :-)).
I am curious to hear your updated recommendations for printing. My own research (inspired by a Joel Meyerowitz masterclass) goes in the direction of HP Designjet T230 for 24″ prints – using the HP Premium Plus Satin paper.
Much could have changed, so I would value your thoughts greatly, thanks.
Hey Peter – This is great! Printing your own work, despite some of the challenges, is super rewarding. I still use my P800, printing on Moab Lasal Exhibition Luster 300. I really can’t speak to your question about the printer because I only know what I know. You know? 😉 But if others have recommended it and it gets good reviews then go for it. As you probably know I’m not particularly loyal to one brand and think most of the big players are making better entry-level products now than some of our best gear 10 years ago. Do your research and if the printer you’re looking at gets good reviews, start printing! Sorry I can’t be more help; where technical stuff is concerned I’m a bit of a light weight.
Thanks for your input. I like to hear you still use the P800. Even if new stuff comes around it does not make the old stuff worse 🙂
I used my Nikon D2x until 2018 (now D500) for the sports stuff and my Leica X2 as my compact travel camera.
I am off printing……;-)
In your book, “Within The Frame” you mentioned you have a pocket printer. I assume this is “battery” operated? How good are the photos? What is the brand and model of this printer?
Hi Sheldon. At the time I was using a Polaroid Pogo printer. No longer made, I think. Now I use a Fuji Instax. It’s adequate, but the prints aren’t brilliant. It’s battery powered. There is also one made by LG and while I’ve not used it I’ve seen the prints and they are much nicer than the ones from the Instax (which are more like tiny crappy Polaroids)
Soo… I got the P800, got my Macbook Pro, got the above e-book and also the LR book and Steinmueller’s Fine Art Printing for Photographers….calibrated my screen with an i1 Pro….tried a bunch of screen profiles…
…. and my prints still do not match my screen. Tonality is reduced and colors are off. So far I’ve only printed on Epson Hot Press natural (I know that runs a bit warm. Want to try others, too.). Waiting for Breathing Color’s Pura Smooth and Hahnemuhle Photo Rag to arrive.
My current printer is getting too old now. It got stuck some times. Its also Epson. I was thinking of buying a new one but due to extremely busy schedule at the shop, I couldn’t manage to get one. Thank you for sharing some views about P800. I think I might be buying it.
So far I’ve had no issues, Ringo, and I travel and go without printing for long periods at a time. But it’s a new printer, so I can’t really say with an any credibility what this one’s like. I had no issues ever with my 3880.
I used to have an Epson printer R1800 but I spent so much time fixing the clogging problem than printing with it. After a year of use, I had to give up and dump it. I am now considering to get a new printer. I have heard good things about Epson 3880, and I am considering this SC-P800 now. As per your experience, have you come across any clogging problem with it? As I am not a professional photographer, I am unable to make print too often. I will probably make a few A3 /A2 prints once or twice a month. Do you think I could get away from the clogging problem?
I have been without a printer for some time now and was dreading the whole shopping and narrowing down what I want or need in a printer. First impressions go a long way and your a trusted source for sure. 17 x 22 is a nice size too!
As per usual my friend, your insights into this fabulous craft and those of your readers continue to inspire me to forge ahead. I was living in Nanaimo, but have since made my home in Ecuador. They do not have these tools here and I am having to make compromises in my art. So pack one of those P800 or P600 puppies up and come on down to Cuenca and I will personally see that you have a place to stay and join me as we photograph this UNESCO Heritage city together. What do you say my fellow Canuck??? ?
Hi David and Congrats to your new website!
First a technical reflection:
I have the Epson R3000 which have been working great for me (at least until I stopped changing paper qualities between matte and glossy – today only matte).
But… I have been thinking of upgrading to an A2-printer and have been waiting for this – with its bigger 80ml cartridges.
Then a philosophical reflection:
I have noticed that when showing a print (to a friend, a client, the sitter…), the response is far greater than the comments I get from people seeing it on my website.
So merely from this point of view, I think it is worth the extra money and struggle to get the print.
And last a practical personal reflection:
I only print my portraits (www.janmalmstrom.com).
If I could only find a way to secure it to the back of my bicycle 😉
Always enjoy reading your blog and this is another excellent piece of advice. However, and don’t you just hate “howevers” because you just know that something not involving praise is coming down the road, I do have a small issue with this post.
You see I’m part of a small, unique and passionate about our work group of people…a local boutique printer. You know, the ones that happily sit down with photographers, provide advice on printing and are even willing to help you out with your questions about Photoshop and Lightroom. We’re the ones willing to stay late to get that rush job out for you. We’re always accessible because we live and work in your community. Our clients come in to pickup their prints and often stay for a coffee. We see each print before it goes out the door and more often than not, know the story behind that print. We walk first-timers through the process, often giving advice and tips on how to make the next image capture even better. I’ve seen people with tears in their eyes as they see the beauty of their print for the first time.
So my “however” is a wish that you would consider those printers who live amongst you and really care about their craft and their clients before recommending the big guys…you know, the ones who live out of town, province/state or even country. They do an excellent job too but so does that small shop just down the road or across town. The one that will remember things like your shooting style, preferred papers and most importantly, your name.
I’m in total agreement, Bill. And if these printers in our communities did a better job of marketing themselves I’d know who they are. Perhaps some do. And if I had to print for a show I’d go to a friend who does exactly this. But much of my audience has yet to even print their work and the fewer obstacles, the easier it will be to get them into printing. So, yes, absolutely, 100% recommended that people go to the personal, brick and mortar shops for printing. But how do I recommend specific places for a global audience? I will only recommend what I’ve tried and know. But in the abstract your point is very well taken. Thank you for being so gracious in the way you pointed it out.
I need to drink heavily … It never turns out the way I expect. I have the 3880 and the ink is probably colored glue at this point.
This looks like a gorgeous printer. For those who only need 13” wide Epson is offering a $50 discount on the P600.
I totally agree that printing make a huge difference in one’s work, plus it can be nice to have some of them around your own home. When you print any problems in a image come to the forefront, so you soon learn what to look for before sending it to the printer, your own, or a pro lab, so it help one refine one’s work quickly.
I’ve been craving a printer lately! This is a really helpful post. I certainly need something smaller like this. But I’ve hesitated because it’s a lot of money to invest – for me anyway. Glad to know that this printer meats your standards, Dave! Maybe an episode about printing for Vision is Better?
Thanks for this review David. I’ve been considering getting a printer and will definitely take a look at this one now!