I was involved in print competition for a number of years in my old club in Chicago. Of course then, DPI (Digitally Produced Images) was in its infancy. Initially, those images were a joke and most people avoided the category and either bought a printer or had their work done at the local Costco.
I tiptoed into the fray with a cheap printer and low-end paper. In a short time I rationalized a larger printer and more/better paper could be used for competition, clients and selling images at fairs. Total investment for 2005-2010 was about $8,000. The big Epson with its inks and rasterizing software was about 4-5 k; paper, mattes, frames, plastic envelopes and a small tent for fairs added up to almost the same amount. I went to a couple of fairs and found the print prices were low and the competition high. My clients loved the prints but few wanted to pay very much. My images for competition were fun, glorious and did well. But, being somewhat of a perfectionist, the final print was proceeded by many many test copies.
After a few years of heavy use, I started traveling more with my photo workshops, my Epson’s print head clogged from lack of regular use. Then I bought a new Canon. When we moved out here in early 2019 and I found that I had all these new places to visit and I realized that my Canon printer was probably going to suffer the same fate as my old one: lack of use in a very dry climate. Reluctantly, I sold all my gear about 3 years ago.
So today, I very much miss my old printer but I recognize it doesn’t fit my life any more. My true printing needs are limited and a printer needs to be used on a regular basis. Net of this whole narrative is that my owning a printer is an added commitment to another long term relationship. If the relationship isn’t maintained, things can get expensive.