I have been taking photos for about eight years now, first as a hobbyist, and then slowly transitioning into a more professional capacity. As a child of the digital age, I learned how to take pictures on a DSLR, edit them on my laptop using digital software, and share them online, both in full-resolution to my clients and via social media and blogging. The physical presence of my own photos in my life has been slim; I haven’t yet had any of my work hung up on the walls of the places I’ve lived, and I’ve generally left the task of printing up to my clients, most of whom are well-versed enough in online printing that they generally prefer to do it themselves.
Also, can I admit something? Printing photos has always been incredibly intimidating to me. This seems like a silly thing to be intimidated by, but I have my reason: I am really, really bad with numbers.
I’ve always been a word person. I struggled with math throughout junior high and high school, and when I got to the point where I could opt out of numbers-based classes, I did so without hesitation. I just couldn’t see the applicability of anything more than basic algebra to my daily life. Little did I know that photography, with all of its focal lengths and f-stops, was in my future.
So when Janie asked me if I wanted to include some of my photography in our exhibition, I was slightly hesitant. I was excited at the prospect of seeing some of my favorite photos up on a gallery wall, but I knew that it would mean figuring out aspect ratios, dimensions, and frame sizes, not to mention the physical act of measuring and hanging each print up.
I gave it a go anyway, and as with most things in life, the actual experience was much better than my fearful expectations. It took time and patience, and there were some miscalculations made, but at the end of the process, I had fourteen beautiful prints positioned on the wall, and the struggles that I had experienced ended up leaving me with a sense of accomplishment that I doubt I would have experienced had someone else done the work for me. It was all a matter of practice makes perfect: once I figured out the methods to use for deciding how big the prints should be and how much matting, if any, should go around them, I was able to apply the same formulas to different sizing and simply input new numbers.
The biggest surprise of all was that I began to view numbers in a completely new way. Where I had once seen them as cold, logical, and only useful in the technical realm, I began to see them as a creative tool; as it turns out, things like spacing and size actually matter when it comes to visual aesthetics and the message that an artist is trying to convey. Creative processes are hidden everywhere, even when they aren’t apparent from the outside. Lesson learned.