Photography is the art of the capture. If you love photography, you love that hunt, the planning and the final capture of an image. When you return from your vacation, exposed film rolls in hand or memory cards full, the question becomes what you do with all these images? What do you do upon returning home?
I have just come back from a trip to Cambodia, and I am sharing what I have learned and a few of the images of the five rolls I took, on this blog. As I finish developing the five rolls, I found myself in the darkroom selecting and making some prints. When I print images from a vacation, I am looking to select the images that help tell the story of our visit. Images that help define a place and the people who live there.
Out of the 180 film images I captured, I will select 20-30 images to print. I will also select some of the 500 digital images I have taken to get printed as well. In the end I will have between 30-50 images that will be my definition of the trip. But once this is done then what?
The first thing to do is print, it does not matter how. It could be in a darkroom, on a home printer or taking the images to a professional printer. The size of the prints are not important but the fact that you do print is vital. There is something special about holding the two dimensional image in your hand.
But then what? What do you do with the images when finally made? Here, I hope to give you some ideas that you might not have thought about.
The Photo Album:
This is the most traditional of options for your printed pictures. Putting together a photo album can be as simple as putting them in a specially made album, with small notes written beneath them. Or it can be as complicated as making a unique piece of art, with little mementos of the trip such as train tickets, hotel brochures and dried flowers.
A few words of advice if this is the path you would like to follow. First, be sure the images are completely dry before putting them in. If printed in a dark room, leave them out for a week in a dry environment to ensure all moisture has gone. If printed from a home printer, or professional, I suggest leaving them to dry at least three days. This ensures that when placed in the album, they will not bare any ill marks due to moisture.
Second, write the annotation on the back of the photo as well. Dates and places are key as are the names of the people in the photograph. This ensures that if the photo falls out of an album, you can quickly see what the photo is about.
Third, do not try to make the album too big. Keep it small and try to limit the number of photos on each page. The simple page, with an image or two will be more powerful then dozens of pictures on the same page.
If using glue, ensure it is acid free glue. The last thing you want is the photograph to suffer damage due to the glue.
The Photo Box:
This is one of my favorite methods to use recently. The idea is to purchase a box, roughly the size of the prints you are going to make, and store the images in there. Again you can add mementos such as tickets and the like within the box. Here, leaving a bit of room at the bottom of the image to write a bit about it would help or you can just write in the back.
A few words of advice on this system. First, dry the images again. Because they are loose in the box this is less of an issue but still a good practice to get into. Second, keep the boxes small. These need to be stored after all. A small box, about an inch deep will store plenty of images and still be easy to keep.
Hanging on a Wall:
This is really the best way to preserve and show your images. The problem is that one runs out of wall space rather quickly. I like to keep this for the absolute best images and the one that will bring to mind the memories of that trip.
Again I suggest that the image be dried as explained above before putting behind glass. Second, if the image will be in direct sun light, I suggest putting it behind treated glass which helps reduce the fading that will occur. If out of the direct sunlight this is not needed. Professionals will seal the image into the frame with humidity proof tape. This is done in a dry environment to prevent condensation when the temperature drops. You can do the same thing at home, or if the frame is cheap, let it breath through he gaps in the back of the frame.
This is one of my favorite things to do. I will select an image that I really like, print it up in the darkroom. After allowing it to dry, I will write a special note on the back and give it to a friend. Sometimes I will frame it but other times I will leave it for them to do anything they wish to it.
The fact is that in today's digital world, few people hold photographs anymore. Giving them a picture of something memorable on the trip, is something that few people get the chance to enjoy. I explain that there is no need to hang it or do anything with it other than look at it and enjoy it. Not everyone has the same taste so they may want to feel safe turning it into a bookmark (you can even print it with that in mind).
Christmas cards are a wonderful time to do this. To send a unique photograph to a few close family or friends is a great way to show you care.
Patrick...confirmed film & digital photography addict.