Unbridled Cynicism

less bullshit, more often?

Framing deadtree photos

I’ve been looking into photo printing and framing recently. It’s well and good to show people digital pictures, but it’s hard to escape the “specialness” that you feel when something is tangible.

The moe/otaku industry is built on this. Imagine how different Comiket would be if things just weren’t scarce - it’d probably be a great creators’ meetup event again. If you’re a creator of digital content, tangible bonuses are also a great way to get people to buy your stuff instead of pirating it.

It’s funny; ten years ago it was normal to get your happy snaps printed. Cheap 6-by-4 prints, nothing fancy, maybe put in a photo album or a two-dollar-shop frame on the bookshelf. As far as I know that doesn’t happen any more, so a framed print is serious business because of the unusual degree of effort required, compared to machine-gunning your jpegs to facebook or flickr.

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Caption: Nitroplus’ itasha, taken at Comiket 79. I think it’s very important for pictures to have a meaning for the viewer, but in this case I’m monopolising it. I wouldn’t expect more than a “cool car bro” from someone else, but I’m really proud of how it came out.

But enough bluster. I’d be dishonest if I didn’t say that, to my mind, a framed photo confers some degree of “legitimacy”, well-earnt or otherwise. It’s an exercise for the ego. This picture of a Lancia Stratos HF is hanging in my bedroom because I like it, it makes me feel good.

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Caption: A footbridge in Glebe on a rainy night, and one of the first photos I took when I got my new D700. My dad introduced me to photography when I was growing up and we had a little black-and-white darkroom in the shed. The sheer contrast and richness of the images often feels out of reach these days - it’s doable, but you won’t see it in the camera. You can feel it in the scene, you can envisage how it should look, and you can eke it out during processing, but it’ll never be there on the camera’s LCD.

The photo of the footbridge was a birthday present for my dad, as he’s still a fan of black-and-white photography. While it’s clear that I haven’t yet figured out how to take good photos of photos, that’s it hanging on the wall back home. Feels good man.

Getting stuff framed is nice, but not cheap. Photoland are a good mob that do both printing and framing, which is where I got everything done. The Lancia is a custom aspect ratio (420mm x 210mm), while the footbridge is a standard 10x15”.

The prints alone were $30 each. It’s $70 for the footbridge’s standard sized frame and single-matte border, and about $100 for the Lancia’s wide frame (originally designed for three smaller portraits) and a custom-made matte border. You can mount the print in the frame yourself, or take the easy way out and pay $15 for the shop to do it for you.

I still have a few other photos awaiting framing, but those were printed at FotoRiesel instead. They’re a bit more hardcore on the printing side (they deal heavily in digital images themselves) with various paper stocks available, but it’s also substantially more expensive ($50 for each of the A3 prints I got). Their pricing doesn’t seem so bad now that I know how much framing will cost.