When is an image a photograph?

Nowadays we look at our personal images on our computers, tablets and mobile phones. We print occasionally a favorite one and put it on the wall in a nice frame.

Before the digital era we would look at our photos in a printed form and keep them in a box or a photo album. A photo was a print. Today a photo is an image that is stored and viewed on our digital devices.

In my opinion an image has more power to it when it is printed. The photographer decides in which size the image will be printed and he will adjust the tones adequately. However a digital image may be viewed on a 3 inch mobile screen to a 23 inch computer screen. Moreover, each screen will show the image with different color tones, contrasts and levels of lightness and darkness - and that’s to begin with.

These differences should not be a problem because a strong image remains strong under most viewing circumstances.

So why then is the printed photo more powerful than the same image viewed on a screen?

There is no clear answer to that question. A print on high quality paper has a depth to it which most screens cannot achieve. But we have just concluded a strong image remains strong under most circumstances. So perhaps this contributes as to why.

Is it the touch? The fact that we can touch the photo? That your favorite picture has become an object which you can treasure rather than mere pixels?

Personally I experience a printed photo as real, definite and tangible, and a digital image as a temporary state.

Therefore I would advocate for having our photos printed, either in bigger or smaller prints, or directly into a beautiful book

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