I’m running out of ways to creatively say some version of “print yer damn work!” But seriously, print yer damn work. Live with it. Study it. Hold it in your hands. Give it away. Experience the joy of seeing it matted and framed and hung on walls. For some that means using a service like mPix or WHCC or, my preference these days, Artifact Uprising.* For others it means printing at home. Printing at home – doing it yourself – is a learning curve, and it means buying a printer, but it’ll teach you more about your photographs than just looking at it on a screen. Everyone I know that prints does it for a variety of reasons, but almost all of them agree – it makes them a better photographer. Print your work.
If printing at home is an option and you’re looking for a recommendation, then here’s mine: get Martin Bailey’s eBook, Making the Print (it’s only $7), and then consider the Epson P800 printer. There are a lot of great printers out there. This is the one I use, so it's the one I have some experience with.
The P800 replaces the much-revered 3880, and it’s excellent. I’ve been using it for several months now; the prints are fantastic and it's very easy to use. The printer itself isn’t huge, at least not compared to the massive sofa-sized 7900 I used and swore at for the last 2 years (it made beautiful prints but was a beast), and it sits nicely on my work surface. It’s easy to use, has a great interface, and unlike the predecessor, the 3880, it prints wirelessly (set up was super easy, which is good because Epson still won’t put a freaking USB cable into the box) and it takes roll media with the roll spindle (sold-separately). It prints up to 17″ wide, which means I can use my favourite A2 or 17×22 papers. I can’t comment on other brands – I’ve used 4 different Epsons in the last 5 years – but my experience with the Epson P800 are the strongest I’ve had so far.
The P800 has a 9-cartridge UltraChrome HD ink set that includes 4 blacks - matte, photo, light, and light light black. The blacks are gorgeous and the colours have been super faithful - though this has more to do with the fact that I calibrate my monitor and keep the brightness down.
I already love printing on this – and if you love printing, instead of feeling like you need to drink heavily before you turn the thing on, you’ll probably do it more. (You can find it on Amazon.com for USD$1200)
So calibrate that monitor, pick up a copy of Making The Print, and get printing. I doesn't have to be this Epson, but if you're looking for a recommendation, this one has my vote. If you're looking for a recommendation on media my current favourites are Epson Exhibition Fibre and Moab Lasal Exhibition Lustre 300. If you like matte prints the Epson Hot Press Bright is gorgeous but really susceptible to marring.
Don’t be that photographer that never sees his photographs in the real world, or whose best work only ever sits on her harddrives and iPhones. Print it. Get it out into the real world.