Print and image

I am currently preparing some images for printing in a self-published book. The material is all shot with the 8×10 camera and the very technical question arises on how to bring this into the digital form for printing. Should I scan the negatives or the contact prints?

Clearly there are technical qualities and considerations. A negative always holds more information than a print, even though at zero enlargement that may not be such a big problem. Conceptually, however, the negative is raw material while the print is the finished image and it may be difficult to make the digital equivalent achieve the same visual impression as the contact print.

The next logical question is whether such a divergence is an issue for the photographer. Do I consider myself a print maker with great emphasis on the distinct look and feel of the resulting artifact, or am I an image maker with a primary interest to have the image seen in one in many forms I am comfortable with? There probably isn’t a clear decision between one or other extremes and it may even vary between different projects and images. But it is certainly helpful to be aware of the distinction and my own position in it.