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Details From Start to Finish: Esteban Toro and Hahnemühle’s Battle to Save Printing

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Printing is increasingly becoming an overlooked part of the photographic process. Hahnemühle and Esteban Toro are trying to change that.

Toro is well-known for his gorgeous light-soaked images of cultures worldwide.

Likewise, Hahnemühle is known for its attention to detail and beautiful photographic papers.

It makes sense that in Toro’s quest to share the smallest details of his travels that he uses Hahnemühle. Toro’s short video is a bit of an ode to Hahnemühle’s rag paper.

Because Toro uses printed portfolios to show off his work to potential clients, his choices are critical. Focusing on just a few examples, Toro shows just how important his paper choices are to making sure his prints achieve the right feel. Like most photographers, Toro feels that

light is the most important thing in [his] work.

Getting a paper to embody a glow or a mood is hard work. 

As important as it is to choose the right lens and camera, it’s just as important to use the right paper.

Toro’s recently released series, Aperture, also takes a close look at the importance of printing through a series of conversations he has with Brent Lewis of The New York Times and Scott Gray from the World Photography Organization.

It’s clear that in talking with Lewis and Gray that Toro uses his printed portfolio to highlight the elements of his stories he wants his audience to focus on. It’s equally obvious that Lewis and Gray have an emotional and tactile response to Toro’s prints.

As Gray explains:

Photography is about taking images, but it’s also about printing.

I think that Lewis’ turn of phrase effectively distills the fundamental issues of print versus screen when he says:

This is a photo I want to spend time with… This is the power of a really good print… 

It’s a visceral reaction to hold and see a print, to step closer instead of zooming in to see the details. To see an oversized print and to be enveloped by its physical nature is something that a screen just can’t compete with. 

I think that it’s this tactile and emotional nature of prints that means we won’t see prints go the way of telegrams, playhouses, or maybe even books. 

How do you feel about paper as part of your photographic process? How important are prints to you?

All images provided by Esteban Toro.

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