How many pictures did you take last summer? How many pictures did you take while on your last vacation? What did you do with all those images? Make lots of small prints? Or did you, heaven forbid, just store them away on your computer’s hard-drive? Maybe you have thousands of images on CDs and DVDs?
Some of you enlarged a few and maybe joined other photographers in an exhibition and might now have a some matted and framed photographs looking for space on your walls and if you are like me wall space gets pretty limited. At least I have a shop that I can fill with my framed or matted photographs, but I still have lots of photographs that, in my opinion, deserve a better place than to be stored away and never to be seen.
I have always printed my photographs. Before digital I would remove my film from the camera, take it to my home lab, then process and print every frame on the negative I liked. I rarely made prints smaller than 8X10 and if I really liked one or more of the shots I would make 11×14 enlargements that including the matt and frame became 16X20. Nowadays I probably print even more because it is so easy to just sit down to my computer and get excited about the images my wife and I have captured.
As always, I try different techniques, paper, and colours, with an outcome of lots of prints piling up. Now to get to the point of this column, giving photography as gifts. I heard about a local photographer that places quite a value on the photography he produces and believes no one should have any of his photography unless they pay for it. As a working photographer I cannot find fault with the value he puts on his work, but I also like people to enjoy my photography and come from the belief that my photography is better suited to being displayed than gathering dust because I want money for every shot.
I have neighbours and because they are loggers they have gladly cut down a tree or two about to fall on my fence. Another neighbour is a skilled mechanic has helped me with my truck when it needed work. The people next door always take care of my chickens, pond full of fish and old cat when my wife and I must be away. None of these people have requested money for their professional skills. I have friends that are fun to spend the evening partying with, and others that I just want to say hello to without disturbing their busy schedule. I guess I could go out and buy them presents. However, what better gift than a photograph or photographs by me?
My favourite gift is to photograph their family and give them prints and a CD. If they want an enlargement or two for their family, I’ll make that for them also. What about all those prints piling up? I haven’t tried this, but I remember that while at a party, a photographer friend of mine brought out a wonderful selection of dry mounted 8×12 and 11×14 photographs and
told everyone they could have any print they wanted. Cards and calendars of our photographs make great gifts also.
Years ago I stopped to photograph a little girl riding her horse along a dusty back road I live on. I printed an 8×10 and gave it to her the next time I saw her. She has since moved to Kamloops, grown up, married, and had children and I suspect her children have made her a grandmother by now. That photograph made us good friends. I know anytime she sees me she will make her way through the crowd or cross the street just to say hi. (I even photographed her wedding many years later) I have photographed my son’s friends on bicycles, motorcycles and cars and given them enlargements. At one time I could say I had made pictures for everyone on the street I live, but many have moved away and we have new neighbours everywhere. Maybe it’s time to start walking around the neighbourhood again with my camera. What a great gift a photograph can be.