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Is printing your own work worth the effort?

March 1, 2014 Art, Composition, Success, Technique 4 Comments

I received this question from a reader recently:

Is it really worth the cost and time in the learning curve to print my own vs just using a professional printing house to get started?

Here is my answer:

Absolutely. The reason why I go into the trouble of printing all my work myself is because of two very important reasons:

A – I can do a better job than any lab.  That’s because of my experience printing my work. No one knows my work and what I want to express in my prints better than me.  I also know that I do not want the generic look that most lab operators give to prints.  What this means is that there is no such thing as a single version of a print.  There are as many versions as there are lab operators.  What I want is my version!

B – The value of my prints is in large part due to the fact I make my prints myself.  Who wants an Ansel Adams printed by someone other than Adams?  Not me.  Same with my clients and collectors.  They don’t want an Alain Briot printed by a lab operator.  They want an Alain Briot printed by Alain Briot.  The value is in having a print made by me, not a print made by someone called ‘staff’.

The same reasons apply to you.  You can learn how to print your work to my standards with my Printing Mastery Workshop on DVD.  I explain which papers I use and every other aspect of the process in these tutorials.  This tutorials are similar to attending my 2 days Printing Mastery Seminar except you don’t need to travel, you don’t have to remember everything in 2 days which is almost impossible, and you can study at your own pace, anywhere you like. Here is the link:


Alain Briot
March 2014

Currently there are "4 comments" on this Article:

  1. Hi A

    I agree, printing your own stuff makes it even more unique. While I was at University studying for a BA in Photography I was struck how often students complained about the printing services and also the printers available to us. I decided to get a semi pro R2880 + a data colour calibration system to measure screen and prints. It was a hard slog of profiles making and experimenting until I got what I liked. But so worth the effort! The other reason was a copy of Dome Rock off Ansel Adams original negative is available for $300. The same image of the same negative, but done by Ansel himself? $15k or more if you can find one!

  2. Dave New says:

    Thanks Alain, for this article. I’ve sent the link to my local Digitizers mailing list. A respected mailing list member there has been on a campaign recently to convince everyone that they cannot justify owning their own printer, due to high initial cost, and maintenance issues. He advocates sending everything to the local Costco, and has brought in samples of large full-bleed glossy prints to back up his assertions.

    To each his own, I suppose, but they certainly aren’t my cup of tea. I prefer to soft proof for my Epson 3880, using Velvet Fine Art matte paper (and certainly not full-bleed). I may not always get what I think I’m supposed to get when I do a print myself, but that’s what proof prints are for!


    — DaveN

  3. Alain Briot says:

    I agree Dave. Costco is no match for an experienced fine art printer who wants to express his or her vision through their work. Plus the value of having work created by the artist is gone. To me this is a sad example of teaching students to lower their standards instead of rasing their standards. Plus, full bleed prints are a huge mistake because the most fragile area of a print is the edge. It is the edge that gets torn, ripped, or otherwise damaged. Having a white border prevents damage to the print itself because if the edge is damaged, the image is untouched. The white border takes the beating and protects the image.

    A lot of people think that you add value to a print by printing borderless. The reality of the fine art market is that it is by leaving a wide white border that you actually add value to the print. In fact, most galleries refuse to carry borderless prints because they cannot be properly mounted, matted or protected.

  4. I prefer real look of chemically processed photo paper delivered by LightJet technology. I tried comparison of InkJet and LightJet. InkJet is triple costs and too much hassle. It doesn’t look even close to LightJet print. Pro photo lab I use expose exactly what I want. What I see on calibrated screen I get. Once, LightJet “printers” will cost reasonable money for puny mortals I will start to print on my own.

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