It’s easy to think that, in some simple way, photography is just one thing – making photographs. But for me, running all the way back to the very earliest photos I made when I was a kid, it’s always been a sequence of things: making the exposures, developing the image, making prints.
And one of the things that I very much like is that these things are loosely coupled; that is, I can go on a tear, and make a lot of exposures, and just let them pile up. When I was using 35mm film, I often let the film pile up until I had dozens of rolls of undeveloped film, and then one day I’d get up in the mood to process film, and I’d develop and contact print the film in one big film developing orgy. By the same token, I’d also let the processed film pile up, and then go on a printing binge, printing day after day after day. The flexibility to allocate effort to the different tasks is one of the things I very much like, because I’m one of those poor unfortunates who only works well when I’m in the mood.
Switching to a digital workflow has blurred some of those boundaries. I tend to download everything off the memory card as soon as I’m done with making exposures. It’s just a habit; I’m not even sure where it came from, but I’m not comfortable until those photos are duplicated in at least two places. And naturally, when I download them, I take at least a quick peek at what I’ve got.
But I’m still in the habit of letting the ‘undeveloped’ (by which I mean that I haven’t worked up even a rough treatment in Photoshop) images accumulate into a heap before I sit down at the computer to work through them. Although I now make the odd print when I really want to see what it looks like on paper, I’m still letting the printing pile up and then sitting down to crank out prints in a one day effort.