Quote Originally Posted by batwister View Post
While learning the craft, do you think it's necessary to print lesser photographs? That is, negatives you already know aren't successful images?

I've often made straight prints and then thought the image isn't 'worth' wasting any more paper on. This has nothing to do with how difficult the negative might be to print to completion, but that the image itself simply doesn't work. There have been times when I've printed bad photographs and then kidded myself that, because it's technically competent, it has value. I'm content, for a while, with the fact that I've got a nice looking piece of paper. It's only when I've gone back to the print with objectivity about the actual content that I've done away with it.

It often feels like I'm waiting for the holy grail of images before I actually enter the darkroom. Is it still important to print the crap stuff in the mean time? And how much can this warp your judgement about the actual content of your photographs? A sort of "but look at the print!" mentality.

I wouldn't want to see the negative as a mere resource for making prints. For me, it has to have value in its own right. I'd then consider spending a whole weekend printing it.
When I look at a proof sheet, I try to remember what I saw in the viewfinder, and what attracted me to take the picture in the first place. If I took more than one of that scene I then look for the best one and make a straight print. From there I decide how I want to "tart it up" to reach or exceed the original vision.

Looking at a boring proof sheet or a straight print is no determining factor in what that picture is capable of becoming.

Look at Ansel's Moon Over Hernandez. The straight print is dull and boring. The finished print could be called (by some) a masterpiece.

As with most things you get better if you practice it.