Quote Originally Posted by tkamiya View Post
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If we can put our prejudice towards digital products aside for a moment, I will have to say well prepared digital prints are just as good as well prepared traditional prints. Crappy prints are crappy in either method.

I'd say the quality of the image comes first and the process comes distant second.

Absolutely true.

Photographers must still be able to produce quality work right from the start (to build reputation) before debating endlessly on what printing methodology their work will be produced; when they decide on that, there can be no deviation from the methods by which the photographer is known. Breaking into the production of fine art and upholding the standard expected of such is bloody hard work. Too many photographers think it's a piece of cake and wonder why people skip over them for the lesser known, but bigger name, low output artist-photographers.

A photographer may have outstanding visual/conceptualisation skills in bringing an scene/image to life, but his printing and/framing and post-production can let the whole show wanting. People with cash to splash vary in their assessment of artists (photographs are rarely purchased as investments as opposed to the traditional brush art works which accumulate value). They can be aloof, distant and out of touch, or empathetic, interested, engaging and bond instantly to the photographer, his/her work and the quality level, resulting in a long-lasting business relationship (which should never carry personal overtones when dealing in fine arts). I have experienced both extremes over 25 years. The wealthy are easy to deal with, but never ever take them for granted.

I don't know of anybody now doing wet darkroom colour printing to a fine art level. In Australia I'm sure a very, very small few do exist. Occasional stories surface of horror jobs home printing RA4 and Ilfochrome Classic (for those who can afford the exhorbitant residual roll material cost). RA4 was never a fine art level process to start with, as opposed to the many very high quality variations of B&W darkroom produced works). I can put my prejudice of digital aside to the point of what and when I should (not need) to use it. A-to-D (analogue to digital colour printing) is now very common, though technically labour intensive and offering exceptionally fine tuning to the end result (assuming the skill base is there to start with, otherwise the best job can be totally stuffed). It is the only form of colour printing available to me and others which is pushed to a very, very high standard — not to the archival longevity of Ilfochrome, but it's certainly catching up on that.

We must look to the future developments of colour media beyond what we have now. There have really been a number of eye-opening developments for post-analogue media with exceptional archival longevity. The only problem is the cost: with greater take-up the cost will come down, but the high-end media will always be a premium and today's photographers must skill up and be ready to integrate.