Is A Photograph A Photograph Before It Is Printed?

We spoke with Ari Jaaksi of the Shoot on Film YouTube channel.

By Christopher Osborne.


Mexico City – Lomomatic 110 double exposure.


It is a partly cloudy day in Finland. And it looks bitterly cold. Ari is talking to me as he walks his dog.

I reached out to Ari Jaaksi a couple of days ago after watching the latest episode of his YouTube channel “Shoot on Film”. The episode was “An idea for an instantly approved photo exhibition: a DIY show!”.

For those of you who are not familiar with this channel, Ari is a keen amateur photographer who discovered photography later in life. The channel centres around Ari’s insightful self-reflection on all things analogue and photography. Family man, musician, academic and part-time philosopher might well be Ari’s other hashtags.

Mexico city, Lomo LCA 120.


Here’s a link to the episode:

Higway bridge close to Ari’s home, Kiev 60​.


I am intrigued by two things that Ari covered in this episode. Towards the end of the episode, Ari poses an interesting question. “Is a photograph a photograph before it is printed”. I was interested to know more about his thoughts on this. I was also interested in the motivation behind creating a small exhibition for family and friends. I’ll cover this in a separate article.

Here is his response to “Is a photograph a photograph before it is printed?”.

A road in Ari’s home town, Holgon, a modified Holga camera.


“Some people say that words do not matter. And that it is unhelpful to put labels on things. I partly agree with this. For example, when my wife asks “Is that Country or Jazz”? The label is unhelpful. It is the music that counts”.

“However, there is part of me that believes words are important. For example, when we invented recording moving images on magnetic tape, we called it video. This was very useful because it meant something that we would watch at home and not at the Cinema.  So, it is different. Different enough to warrant a different name”.

“It’s a shame that we did not think of a different word when we moved from paper to digital. Something radically changed. Screens are small. They are backlit. The shadows are brighter than on a print. If you have grown up in the digital era, this is the norm. In contrast, I can think of some of my images look completely different when they are printed”, Ari reflects. “A print is a unique object. For example, a print on a wall or in a book. You can not change it with an app once it has become physical”.

Ari’s Dad, Nettar 517, mid 1950. From Ari’s Father’s photo album.


Ari talks about looking through the photo albums left by his late father a few days before we talked. He had a completely different experience than had he gone through images left on a hard drive. These images were curated by his father. Not only had his late Father taken the photographs, but he had designed the page layout. The grouping of images was designed by his Father. This intent adds to the collection. As a photographer, Ari can see that many of the images were contact prints. “The physical intent of the photographer has been captured and this adds to the image”, says Ari. “These images cannot be scaled on a screen. These images could not be more different to photographs made with an iPhone and then uploaded to the iCloud”.

Ari’s parents, 1960, camera unknown. From Ari’s Father’s photo album.


You can see more of Ari Jaaksi on Instagram at @arijaaksi and on YouTube at

Images © Ari Jaaksi 2024.

You might also be interested in this article Ari Jaaksi and Shoot on Film recorded in 2021.





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