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Contact prints

Contact prints or contact sheets are quick proof sheets (proofs) of negatives on photographic paper. They consist of different strips of positive images next to each other with the same dimensions as the negatives.

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Professional photographers

Contact sheets were often created by professional photographers using a simple and cheap process, to serve as the basis for selecting the images they actually wanted to print. They appear in both black-and-white and colour, often with notes made by the photographer on the prints.

The emergence of digital photography made contact prints obsolete, and they are no longer used today.


The name ‘contact print’ refers to the method with which the prints are obtained: the negatives are pressed against the photographic paper.

Did you know …

… there is renewed interest in old contact sheets produced by professional photographers from an art-history point of view? Contact sheets are often exhibited in museums to show the photographer’s decision-making process.

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