Musings on Photography


Posted in process by Paul Butzi on June 16, 2008

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.

3 Responses

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  1. Sean said, on June 16, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    How often do you print? And are you finding the time between printing sessions longer than they were? I find it too easy to accumulate digital images and do little or nothing with them – unless I load them up on the web.

    I think the point I want to make is that it seems that more and more images exist on the web only, indeed, are taken with this very purpose in mind rather than the possibilities of printing, of physical display.

    Related to this, how would it work if the digital images you took were modified and displayed on the web in a manner that approached the way in which they would print out?

    Just a few thoughts.
    Best, Sean.

  2. Andreas Manessinger said, on June 16, 2008 at 6:41 pm


    It’s very different for me. Most of the time the end result is not a print, it’s a post on my blog, and because I update daily, I am in search of an Image of the Day each day. This forces me to concentrate on only a small number of images. Today for example I had five images that I would have considered, but time for no more than two. The others get a label TODO in my image database, but normally this is it 🙂

  3. rvewong said, on June 16, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    Paul, I’d be interested in what you have to say w.r.t. your enjoyment of the different phases. Particularly since you mention that you need to be in the mood to work well.

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