Owning a printer makes little sense. They’re expensive to buy, expensive to feed, and cranky to live with. For what they cost there are all sorts of places that will do a really good job putting ink down on a broader selection of material than any one person could own, run by smart people who specialize in printing.
So for a long time I didn’t own a printer, knowing that I could always have prints made whenever I wanted to. And I have no printed photos from that period because I never did.
I’m now on my fourth printer. I started with letter-sized, then there were two 11” wide machines, and now it’s my 17” Epson 3880. Having the ability to turn computer files into physical objects stops this whole digital-photographer-thing from being so ephemeral, and the bigger they are, the less ephemeral they feel.
These two photos are from my NYC9 project about the sounds of New York City. They’re more elaborate than anything I’ve tried before, and my new computer is instrumental in that. But as important as any other aspect of that upgrade has been, the key moment was when I hooked my printer back up. Being able to print these images, to see them on paper even though they're still just works in progress, tells me things that a computer screen can't. Printing is both one of my goals and a part of my process.