Printing – the final phase in the photographic process

For the last two weeks, Kasia and I have been battling one of the worst colds in years. While unpleasant, we found this homebound existence a good excuse to get on with organizing our photographic life.

First, we could continue with our annual delete frenzy. Every year we go through our entire photo catalogue, revaluate every image and delete the rotten apples. I have to admit that it is one of the most difficult but necessary parts of the photographic process and one that I’ve learnt to enjoy.

Every year, our catalogue goes on a diet and after a few days of fasting and deleting, we can once again direct our photographic purpose. This year, we managed to delete nearly half of our images. It is not that we hoard photos, quite the reverse. In fact, we take very few photos in the first place and delete most of them as soon as we upload them on the computer. I believe that constraint and discipline are an essential part of image-creation. We always remind ourselves: “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” – Scott Adams   

Our clean catalogue has opened the door to our second homebound activity  – book design. Making prints, books and magazines closes the circle of image creation. If you don’t print your work, your photography is just a half-complete exercise, which most likely will vanish with time. If you are serious about photography, you must print your work. We find holding a print or a book in our hands to be a profound experience. It allows you and your audience to connect with your work on a personal level and engage all senses, which is not possible through digital media. Holding a physical book, feeling it, hearing the sound of the turning pages, engaging with one image at a time and in the order intended by the photographer is the way photography should come to life. Such thoughtful engagement with a photograph is in direct contrast to the fast-food mentality of the Internet. 

Now, book creation is not a trivial matter. It forces you to look at your work as a whole. It forces you to ask questions that would otherwise be left unasked. The design aspect of a photo book requires another set of skills I admit could be lacking in my case. Fortunately, with Kasia and her heavenly patience and ability to arrange, what at first appears to be a random set of images becomes a stunning sequence of photographs, which become a whole work.

In fact, recently we have been working on two book projects: first, a collection of our recent photographs and second, images from Kasia’s trip to Senegal. The Fuji X-Pro1, Fuji X-E1 and Fuji X100s files printed beautifully. Here are a few snapshots. Stay tuned for more details.













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© Olaf & Kasia Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.


8 thoughts on “Printing – the final phase in the photographic process

  1. I don’t know how it can be possible to enjoy culling photos! It’s the part of photography that I despise the most. And yet I know I need to do more of it to make it easier to spot the best photos and make more photobooks like you have done.
    And I know that this is an old post, but it also highlights that in the right hands, the older Fujifilm cameras can produce some beautiful images and there is no real need to upgrade.

  2. Hmm is anyone else experiencing problems with the images on this blog loading?
    I’m trying to find out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.
    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  3. Interesting article…have come to a similar conclusion re: presenting ones work in a book format. I used Blurb for my first foray into book printing, was very happy with the outcome and will do it again ( once i get a body of work to justify it) Your images are great, and your blog especially useful to me as a newcomer to the Fuji X Cameras… thanks for sharing

  4. “If you don’t print your work, your photography is just a half-complete exercise, which most likely will vanish with time. If you are serious about photography, you must print your work. ”

    I feel the same. When a photograph is printed it becomes an entity of it’s own, or part of a story when printed with others in a thoughtful sequence. It’s a beautiful thing to hold a print or book and experience the photographs in a tom that let’s them breathe.

    The books in your post look very good. Some great layout work, which is something I need to work on. I’d love to see an eBook of the process – selecting the photos, deciding on a sequence, sizing and placing them, plus any editing required.

    1. Jim,

      We have tried many services over the last few years and in our view Photobook Canada offers the best print quality. There are more choices south of the border (for example, blurb) and prices are much more attractive.

      All the best,


  5. Your blog posts often seem to sync up with things I’ve been thinking or wondering about in my life. Thank you for that. I recently ordered a new computer, the old one just couldn’t handle my photos or my editing, so I’ve been starting to delete some of my bloated catalogue. Between Lightroom and iPhoto there’s over 1TB of photos, and you’re right, I probably only need half of them.
    Again, you got me with the printing of your work. I was just wondering “what’s the point”. I have all these photos that just sit on a few drives that no one ever sees, basically don’t exist. I nitpic any prints I do make, so I never feel like its time to spend the money on the print and frame until it’s perfect. I haven’t printed one yet that I don’t look at on occasion and think I’d like to tweak something on there. Maybe books are a better idea.
    Have you found a favorite place to print your books? I’ve only used Mpix and have seen good results from them.

    Thanks again for your blog, it’s very helpful and I always look forward to reading them.

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