Gerry van der Walt

When last did you print an image?

Gerry van der Walt All Authors, Gerry 4 Comments

I just did it, something I haven’t done for quite some time, and it was quite exciting.

Tomorrow evening I will be flying back to Kenya which, apart from the normal excitement that goes along with a safari to one of Africa’s most famous destinations, is always great because I get to see the Wild Eye East Africa staff again.  Having now worked with some of these people for almost 5 years I have come to not only truly respect and understand their culture but I have built friendships, deep connections, with a remarkable group of people.

During my last visit a few weeks ago I had the privilege of visiting two of their homes and getting a glimpse into their real world.  You see, most of the time when we are together and meet up it’s at the Wild Eye camp on safari working together to create a special kind of magic for our guests.  There are fleeting moments when we would meet for a cup of chai in the bush kitchen or steal a few minutes before dinner to chat about families and things back home but other than that our common goal is to change the way our guests see the world.

In February I found myself first spending a few nights in a traditional Maasai village after which my guests and I made our way north where we spent another few nights in a village in a tiny village in Laikipia.  During the visits I spent time photographing day to day life in these villages but I’m starting to digress.

When I left Kenya in February I made a promise to some of the people that the next time I visit I will bring them prints of the images that we made together.  So, this morning I prepped my images and for the first time in quite some time I printed some of my images.

At the risk of getting carried away about how cool it is to print your images I’m gonna keep it short.

Do it.

Choose some images and go and have them printed.

The subtle nervous excitement when you pull the prints out of the envelope and hold your own work, something you have created, is priceless and something many of us should do more of.  What made my print experience all the more meaningful was that it was of truly special people and gave me a return ticket to amazing memories.  Isn’t the essence of photography in there somewhere?

Here are the images that I printed this morning and that I will be taking with me to Kenya.

Gerry van der Walt

Gerry van der Walt

Gerry van der Walt

Gerry van der Walt

Gerry van der Walt

Gerry van der Walt

Gerry van der Walt

The nice thing about this whole experience, regardless of how awesome it was to physically hold my own work again, is that the best is yet to come.

The best part, and what I am looking forward to most, is to see the faces of the people when I give them their prints.  Giving away your art, not selling, and having someone appreciate your craft is priceless.

Earlier on I mentioned the essence of photography and I think that creating an image, processing it, printing it and then giving away is exactly that.  Isn’t that what our craft is all about?  I think it is.  It’s about sharing our own vision of this beautiful world we live in.  Sharing.

With all of that said I would like to challenge you.

Go and print an image.  Choose one of your favourites or take an image of someone, process it to match your vision and then print it.  The bigger the better but the size is not that important.

And then, give it away.

Yes, take that image and give it to someone.  Your mom, neighbour or a stranger it doesn’t matter.  Leave it on a coffee shop table for someone to find.  Worst case scenario is give it to yourself and stick it in a frame or put it on the fridge.   The point is to create something tangible, something beautiful, and then give it to someone without worrying about how much you should charge for it or how copyright is going to work.

Just give it away.

I know most of you will more than likely not do this but humor me and just think about it.  What good is all your amazing images on a hard drive?  Or on Facebook for that matter?  Don’t you think that the joy you can create for someone by giving them a stunning wildlife image or portrait is worth way more than the likes you might get?  Absolutely!!

Don’t let your creative process, your photographic journey, end with a bunch of RAW files on your computer.  Do something with it.  Don’t be like most people who worry so much about what happens in camera and in post processing that you forget the bigger picture.

The excitement you will get from going all the way and creating a tangible photograph, a work of art, will be echoed by the person who ultimately receives that gift.

And that’s the essence of photography.

Wow.  This was supposed to be a short post about how excited I was to get back to printing some of my own work but it seems I got a bit side tracked there.  Either way, I hope you think about your own photography as a gift and not as something that you have to protect and safeguard so badly that you forget why you are actually creating images in the first place.

I just did it, something I haven’t done for quite some time, and it was quite exciting.  I hope you do the same!

Until next time.

Gerry

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About the Author

Gerry van der Walt

I am a private and specialist photographic safari guide, public speaker, co founder of Wild Eye and wildlife photographer. Visit my website at www.gerryvanderwalt.com or follow my journey on Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and Periscope.  I look forward to changing the way you see the world! Have you checked out The Wildlife Photography Podcast?

Comments 4

  1. Martha Myers

    Gerry – thanks so much for your post. I could not agree more. I also have been too busy, too reluctant [insert more reasons here] to print images. Within the past year, though, I’ve been printing just 4x6s and giving them away to my Mother. I wasn’t there to see her reaction to them but, upon her recent death [at 96 no less and in her sleep], we kids went through her belongings and there they all were. Every image, carefully filed. So, from now on, print and give away will be my motto. Cheers and see you soon. – Martha

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  2. Carol Bell

    I like what you have said Gerry. For someone who has never had an image printed (like myself) can you give any advice as to what type of “place” one should look for to have images printed? I do have images of people in Zambia and Tanzania that I would like to send photos to.

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