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Tuesday, 04 October 2016


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Another thing you can do with prints is give them to friends and family. Depending on taste, they may not care for your more artistic efforts but almost all will be delighted by prints of people and things they know and love.

I prefer the folded aluminum boxes from Pina Zangaro: http://pinazangaro.com/product-types/boxes.html

They're not inexpensive, but should last a lifetime, which hasn't proven to be the case (no pun intended!) with most of the paper-based cases I've used over the years.

Big fan of the Cenury Box here, too. Just wish they were a little less pricey. As you mentioned, I place loose prints in them for viewing. I only mat stuff that goes on the walls in frames.

Nice to see how the Epson has inspired your printmaking again...

There was the article you wrote many years ago, called something like "redact and reify" or some such. All about making a physical set of prints in a portfolio as a way of saying "that's the finished product". A good focus. All the digital stuff leads up to a finished print from your lovely printer, edited tightly into a set, placed into a nice box to display.

You could always just scan the print and store it digitally. ;-).

(ducking for cover)

I noticed that first box you linked to seemed very pricey through a dealer (over $100). Amazon appears to sell the same thing but with a black lining through Prime for $59.


So do you separate the prints inside the box with individual sheets of something? If so, what is best?

While I use print boxes for matted prints, I use ITOYA Profolios for loose prints. Although they add a layer of plastic between the viewer and the print they work well for casual viewing and it is easy enough to slip a print out of the sleeve for a closer view.

They come in various sizes that hold twenty four prints. The letter-sized ones come in various page counts as well.

I like to display my photos on the wall but I'm cheap (and retired, i.e., "poor") so I can't afford a lot of frames or custom cut mats. Most of my pictures are kept in boxes. Being cheap, I use the Lineco archival boxes in sizes to accommodate 13x19 and 8.5x11 prints. The quality is high and the construction is sturdy.

I started out kind of obsessive about my prints. Since I print solely on matte finish papers (the so-called "fine art" papers) and some brands have a reputation for fragile surfaces, I sprayed them with Print Shield for protection. I also separated the boxed prints with archival tissues. Most recently I've gotten lazy and I've neglected the protective spray and the tissues. I'm not sure either are necessary and it's a PITA to have to sort through the tissues when showing others prints. I'm just careful when sorting through my photos or showing them off.

For some time I've been periodically organizing my prints by month and date (written in pencil on the print along with the folder and image number for retrieval) and putting them back in the paper boxes from which they came, with a label as to what years/months they contain. That way, if I need to locate a print, I find it in my Lightroom catalog and can then go right to the box that contains that image. If it's a sale (very rare), or a gift, much more common, I can then retrieve it and see if it meets my standard, if not, I reprint it. I don't worry about archival issues as these boxes were good enough for the paper without ink, they are probably good enough for the paper with ink. I have many, way too many "archival boxes full of way too many silver gelatin prints, all safe from the ravages of time, though I look at them all too infrequently.

If others are going to leaf through prints, I prefer binders with clear archival sleeves. These offer some protection and provide the opportunity to sequence photos in almost mini-book form, with the advantage of easy change for different audiences or evolving tastes.

These days I'm more inclined to show others selected print samples, loose or framed depending on the venue, and then refer them to my online site to explore other picture options.

At home, I store work prints in portfolio drawers (including some inexpensive ones from Ikea), and cull them from time to time. I also have some inexpensive shelving and wall boards in my work room to temporally display 'work prints' for personal contemplation and assessment; these get changed regularly.

My vintage print collection occupies premium wall space, but I'm no longer reluctant to display a bit of my own matted and framed work on other walls....but then I have a bunch of empty walls, even after all the bookshelves and other art. I like to shift work around from time to time so that it remains fresh; it's amazing how different the same work can appear just by a new location or juxtaposition.

I use a combination of several of your options, but mostly 1 1/2" drop front boxes of the archival but unglamorous type, which I store in two sets of large metal Safco 'flat files'. I also use 'chrystal clear' envelopes for duplicate storage and as part of a mailing package.
One thing you haven't touched on is standard print evaluation lighting, which I think is just as important as calibrating your display.
There are all kinds of professional standards for shch things like this:
These cover both background color and intensity and color of illumination.
But on a practical basis, all you really need to get much more consistent color & tone judgement is a large sheet of neutral gray foam core as a background, and a consistant and known level of illumination ( which can be as simple as a Solux desk lamp.
It is a hge help.
BTW the gray of choice is usually Munsell #8
Which is also a very pleasant color, so I painted all the wals in my small work room with Munsell Gray Paint
One area where you may want to deviate from the D50 standard (or D65 if that is what you use) is intensity which is high to match D50/D65 Displays at 120 cd/m2
Normal Print display conditions will almost always be lower, in fact many museums use 3500k and intensity that is often too low to see the prints well.
But the idea of always using the same lighting to evaluate your print is easy to achieve and very helpful.
Even if you print for no one but yourself, consistency of evaluation is helpful.

I have lots of nice boxes for my prints ... I have some nice shelves for my boxes ... what I need is a little more room for my shelves full of boxes of nice prints (every last one golden)

Obviously, I'm not too picky about my mediocre prints. That Century box is four times what my storage boxes cost. My prints going back to the '80s haven't suffered (at least not that my eyes can tell) being stored with "P.F." Archival Storage Pages and "Besxxxx" archival storage binders. (In case you didn't want specific brands mentioned.) I do have some work prints that could be tossed out, but there are others that I just hang on to because I just may need them someday (even if it's only to line my coffin) and I wouldn't want to have to print them again.

I keep far fewer iterations of prints now than i did in the darkroom days. My “work print” is the file with Lightroom adjustments, it has the edit history and saved intermediate states too if I want. If I do make several prints before a final -- say I can’t decide what looks best -- I’ll have a few versions with notes on the border. But these usually get ripped up and trashed when I decide on a final. Extra final prints that I haven’t matted yet go in drop-front boxes.

I find polypropylene sleeves to be very useful, especially for matted prints. Once you put prints in these, you can put them in pretty much anything and they’ll be well protected from atmospheric hazards, and the crystal-clear sleeve shows off the picture well. You can also use them to keep together groups of prints. In fact, photo paper comes in this type of sleeve, so you can re-use your paper packaging, just like we always did with silver paper.

Found a box of 70s and 80s prints in the house the other day! (No Lincoln workprints have surfaced, though.) Most of those are in old paper boxes, which was the standard back then (inkjet papers tend not to come in such sturdy boxes, maybe because they don't need to be protected from light or something). The rest are in old mat board boxes (which are nearly certainly not archival; but then the mats probably weren't either and some of those prints are in mounted to that mat board).

More recent stuff I'm keeping in metal-edge boxes just like what you've linked above. I may need more (or more culling; no, that can't be right).

I've gone back and forth on this issue for some time. Making nice prints and using boxes for storage is nice, but it makes it much less likely that you will ever actually view the images.

For the archival art print, I think the storage boxes you suggest are great. My biggest ongoing art project is the photographic record of my family. I want those prints to be accessible. I want them to be easily viewable but I also want people to be able to view the prints without damaging them.

I typically print these images as full frame 6x9 images on 8.5x11 inch stock - usually Epson Premium Luster or Premium Glossy. For a few years I stored the prints in the boxes in which the paper came. But I stored them and never looked at them.

I have now settled on using the Itoya Art Profolio 90 page books. The prints are relatively protected and very accessible.

As a side, I also love using Blurb books as a great way to capture a specific time period or trip as one cohesive collection. I typically make 12x12 inch books using uncoated heavy weight stock.


Luckily for me I'm pretty handy with this sort of thing as I find the commercial solutions never quite what I want and a bit expensive. I hand make my own books so portfolio boxes are a snap to make (in whatever size I desire too) with the materials left over from book making and matting/framing. The paper used to separate inkjet paper in the box works well as the lining.

Mike, in what dimensions do you typically print? Do you keep to the typical 2:3 of the APS-C format or do you typically crop? If 2:3, onto what paper size do you typically print?

These are nice: http://www.danecreekfolios.com/. Great customer service too. Prints are where it's at.

I absolutely love printing too.

But having box upon box of my own prints is I don't know, weird and anti-climactic.

Maybe all us print addicts should figure out some cool way to trade prints.

Then we could have box upon box of each other's prints, thus enabling our questionable behavior.

My dilemma is, what to do with all the 6x4 prints. All those ones you print because, as we all know, you really should print as part of a backup strategy. And printing 6x4's of the family snaps is important because it's the only part of the backup strategy that my family will understand!
So I'm looking into some kind of 'index card' solution, just a small file cabinet that can store a few hundred, shoebox style, but more organised and hopefully more archival.

“Another thing you can do with prints is give them to friends and family. Depending on taste, they may not care for your more artistic efforts but almost all will be delighted by prints of people and things they know and love.”
Gordon Lewis

I think this covers my approach, fairly well.

I don’t print off many of my images – I did a few of my bird photographs for my sister, when she started getting into bird-watching, and I usually enclose a vaguely relevant (to the recipient) picture with Christmas cards to selected friends.

As for my arty pictures, usually they are produced for online competitions, but I sometimes send an e-mail copy (or a link) of my more odd ones to certain friends for their amusement and/or confusion. For example.

I suppose, one day when I have enough of them, I may have a photo-book done of some of my themed pictures...

I know this sounds a bit cheap, but I just use old empty print boxes to store prints in. Apart from the somewhat feel cheap factor (as opposed to "feel good factor"), it works for me.

BTW: Enjoying your writing on the new printer. Your excitement from printing is certainly resonating over on this side of the blog...


A problem for me (and more expensive), is where to keep prints for temporary or long-term storage in the house, as opposed to a presentation type container. Several years ago I purchased a 5 drawer wooden map cabinet online (about $300 at the time, now they are over $500) to store prints. It quickly filled up. These storage solutions are now very expensive. I've recently been looking at metal tool chests with drawers, but the problem is getting one deep enough to take, for example, 13x19 or 17x22 prints. I suppose one could keep buying the boxes in which to keep prints, but I do not like this as a permanent solution.

I suggest a flat file. I found one at an office furniture store that sells pre-owned filing cabinets, desks, credenzas, etc. I picked up a Safco for a few hundred dollars.

The Itoya Art Profolios, mentioned by David Bostedo in the featured comments, are indeed very nice. I used several years ago and would still have them were it not for a moving mishap.

I used the biggest sizes to hold my 16x20 B&W and smaller Cibachrome prints way back when digital was only a dream. I'm sure they are just as nice now. I was given some quality art boxes awhile back so I use those now. But if you wand to just "thumb" through a large group of photos like using a book, the art portfolios can't be beat.

What I struggle with is what to use to move a single print from point A to point B. As in, when bringing one to someone's house as a gift.

For mailing, tubes are generally recommended, but if I'm just crossing town with one or two prints, it would be nice to have some sort of inexpensive yet rigid enough presentation box. Anyone have any suggestions?

(I should add that I don't like cramming prints into tubes, for various reasons. No choice when mailing, but what about hand delivery?)

Friends are always asking about what I have been photographing lately so for me the answer was to hang sheet metal on the wall of our kitchen. The prints are mounted with small magnets and are easy to change out or replace. This also gives me the opportunity to view prints for an extended period and judge whether I still like them as much as I did when I first printed them.

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the storage method I use: Archival sleeves kept in 3 ring binders. Since I don't normally print larger than 8x10, this works well, and compartmented sleeves are available for smaller sizes.

In response to the David B. comment, I just ordered the exact portfolio album you noted in your post. They work quite nicely and a good price point as well. They work well for print projects, photo themes, vacation summaries, etc. Look nice on a table in your living room and inviting for guests to view, which I think is important rather than a clamshell black box, just my 2 cents worth.

I like the Itoya books as a vehicle for letting people handle prints. I store my prints in boxes that I bought years ago from Light Impressions (a source that was quite good years back, but no longer so). Being a bit OCD (if there is such a thing), I like the boxes to be the same size as the paper - unfortunately I do a fair bit of printing on A3 paper, and can't find boxes that size.

"What I struggle with is what to use to move a single print from point A to point B. As in, when bringing one to someone's house as a gift."

Here's a suggestion: http://tinyurl.com/jtyyxoh

Giving someone a print that's already signed, dated, matted and enclosed in a clear archival sleeve elevates your gift from being just a naked print. All the giftee has to do is buy a frame.

I used to put prints in sleeves in three-ring binders, and take them around to parties and things. But they're big and clunky compared to just a thumb drive I can stick in the host's television.

For bigger, fancier prints, letter-size binders aren't big enough, and for the level of "fancy" I'm trying to indicate, also too ordinary. Have to make some convincing argument for why it's worth looking at these prints!

I worry about the standards and expectations in giving my prints as gifts. I gave some to my parents, but parents are rather a special case. I probably should give some to people in my circle, but what to who, and so forth? It's probably quite different if your friends know you as somebody who sells prints in galleries regularly, vs. being that guy who's always carrying a camera around :-) .

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