February 2, 2009

roy snell © richard nicholson

you may have noticed that i have a certain love of photographs that depict “behind the scenes” things. from photographer’s in the process of shooting (my ‘at work’ posts) to photographs of darkrooms, studios, etc. there is something about the process of photography and filmmaking, cameras, lights, artists at work, it’s just so interesting to me and i love work that depicts all that. via the conscientious blog today i came across the work of richard nicholson in which he documents some of the remaining professional darkrooms in london. like jörg says this is something that has been done before by many different photographers, but these are quite excellent, and so far my favorite.

debbie sears, metro clerkenwell © richard nicholson

the photographs are beautifully over lit to see every detail which refelcts the many personalities of the photographers that use them. they show the enlargers as these mammoth complicated looking machines, quite the opposite of the simple neat computers and printers of modern digital photographers. almost like depictions of dinosaurs on the brink of extinction. i have a feeling many photographers that see these darkrooms cringe at the thought of having to work in a darkroom again (or ever for that matter) what can be appealing about fumbling around in the dark, the smell of chemicals, the cost and waste of paper, the precision and skill needed to make beautiful prints, all that work involved?

lately, i have fallen prey to the ease of digital printing. i shoot film, i scan it, color correct, remove imperfections, size them, and send the files to a print shop. its easy and costs less and i get the image i want without all the work.  the time i  have spent in darkrooms printing my own work has been vast. in school i would spend days at the lab, printing, re-printing, making editions, etc. i would spend hours upon hours upon hours on one image. and have 12 more images to work on. with digital photography and especially printing, there is an intimacy with your images that is lost. everything is sped up, you work faster, produce more, etc. but is that good? does that produce good work? each print i have made on a digital printer is missing something. for me the knowledge of how it was made subtracts from the value i put on it. they never satisfy me and only leave me wanting more from it.

i miss the time spent with my photographs.

brian dowling, bdi © richard nicholson


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