So I am having a bit of trouble printing lately. In my other thread, I mentioned that I believe that I am trying to do too much in the darkroom (meaning testing and not printing) so knowing that will help, but I have another problem. I haven't made lots of time to print lately, so when I do, I rush in with my negative binders that contain all the rolls I have shot recently. I pull out my print files and lay them on the light table and look at them with my loupe. If I have time, I will make a contact sheet. Sometimes I don't do that first, but instead make a day of contact sheet printing (it's not as fun as making prints). I pick a negative that I want to print and take a reading with my probe. Then I do one test strip at the contrast settings that I think will work. Make modifications from there - until I get to a final print. Make print - make at least one/two copies of same print. Then, move on to the next negative. Do I want to print that cute picture of my son? Hmmm, only have time for two more negatives, so no. Then I print what I "think" I might want to see framed. Am I going to sell this? (um, probably not). Am I going to give this away? Am I going to put it in a folder? So I come out of the darkroom with about three negatives printed at least three times each. That's about it. I hang about one of these and put the rest in a folder.

So my question ... when you go into the darkroom, do you know EXACTLY what you are going to print? Should I be heading in there knowing which negatives I am printing and for what purpose? For me - for my imaginary art gallery show - for a portfolio that nobody will see? I guess I'm at a crisis where I am wondering "who" I am printing for. I used to just order hundreds of 4x6 prints of my kids from my digi files. I have massive amounts of photo albums. Then again, I used to have massive amounts of clients, too. Without clients (my choice) I am a very unstructured shooter. I like what I'm shooting, but don't know how to structure my printing. See where I'm going?

I don't need to sell prints to be happy, but I'm wondering how to come out of the darkroom feeling like I "did something". Not thinking - "this is all I got from those 3 hours?"

Do I need to make a goal before going in?
Do I first need to decide where the hell I'm going photographically? What kind of photographer am I?
Or should I just aim to print the best shots I've got?

Help. Mid life crisis here.