Photos look best when they’re printed! The importance of tactile experiences
Wearing another hat, I photograph around a dozen weddings a year (it’s how I started out as a professional photographer) and it always delights me when the couple want to include a wedding album in the package they select. Because looking at a printed photograph simply can’t be beaten. No matter how great a photo might look on a screen (even a massive Retina display worth several thousand pounds), nothing can beat holding a print in your hands. Something magical happens when you hold a piece of paper in your hand that has an image on it. You bring other senses into play by holding the print, and the sensory experience heightens. Which is a fancy way of saying that touching and seeing the photo is twice as good as just looking at it!
When I shoot commercial photography for clients, I always ask what the photos will be used for. In over 90% of cases, they’re for online use. Even if they’re used for marketing, that predominantly means social media these days. Rarely are the photos that I deliver printed.
But occasionally, there are exceptions. I’ve got a small pile of magazine, leaflets, brochures and flyers on the corner of my desk that has built up over the past few months. What they have in common is they contain photos that I’ve been commissioned to shoot. And it’s wonderful to see them on the page. Not just because of the tactile thrill of turning the pages, looking at how good the photos look on the paper stock, but also because it’s great to see how the designer has used the photos, to see the message they are being used to convey. That helps me in the future; especially if I’m working for the same person again, as I gain a better insight into the kinds of things that they are looking for, and how they are likely to use them.
Another example of the thrill of the tactile experience is the odd occasion when I receive something in the post from a client. These days it’s all email and messaging, of course, but there is something genuinely thrilling in receiving a letter or card. As I’ve described above, it’s great to open the envelope, touch the paper and read the message. But it’s also a bit more meaningul too, I think. In an age when it’s so easy to send a message right around the planet at the press of a button, it means something that somebody has gone to the trouble to compose a message, actually write it with a pen, go to the post box and send it. It’s an old fashioned tradition I hope never disappears.