What to Print?

Contact sheet of Elliott Erwitt's famous "Chihuahua, New York" (the final print is on display at Neomodern).

People assume that the toughest part of the printmaster's job is the computer part: the optimization of an image. It's not. Our greatest contribution isn't always the improvement of an image, but rather, helping customers determine precisely what image to print. We end up looking at a lot of vacation photos. We see many babies. There are dogs dressed up in top hats. 

Selecting what to print is a non-trivial problem. You'd think it was just "what is my favorite picture?" but we like pictures for different reasons:

  • Photos where we look great.
  • Photos that connect us to a place and time.
  • Photos of a beautiful thing (a sunset, a person, a mountain...)
  • Photos that are beautiful (not to be confused with photos OF something beautiful—a different thing. There are many beautiful photos of very mundane subjects.)

These are each important, but there are also photos that will never get boring. There are photos that get better the longer you look at them. There are photos that don't simply document, but become iconic, something that captures the essence of a place or time or person...

Cartier-Bresson's "Amusement Park" This is a great photo and many people enjoy it -- but it works outside of "context" -- you likely don't know these kids nor where they are or even when it was taken. And yet: still works. Are your photos enjoyable even if someone doesn't know you or anything about the image? It's a high bar.

Cartier-Bresson's "Amusement Park" This is a great photo and many people enjoy it -- but it works outside of "context" -- you likely don't know these kids nor where they are or even when it was taken. And yet: still works. Are your photos enjoyable even if someone doesn't know you or anything about the image? It's a high bar.

And then there's a level we're trying to help people reach: a photograph that is interesting even without context—you don't have to know who the people are, or where it was taken, to enjoy it. Context makes a picture MORE enjoyable, but isn't required.

So while many clients show up at Neomodern with an image they love and want to see printed, many others arrive with a stack of favorites, unsure which one would be the best. There are often many "bests." But we believe this selection process is the essence of photography, and something we're particularly suited to help with. Perhaps the most under-reported use of Neomodern is helping you select what to print.

It's why our reservation blocks out an hour, even if it only takes 30 minutes to print and frame your photograph... figuring out what to print is an important part of why we're here. Let us help.