Re: The value of the handmade

From: Richard Sullivan ^lt;[email protected]>
Date: 03/15/05-10:30:09 AM Z
Message-id: <>

At 09:00 AM 3/15/2005, you wrote:


>Would you ditch "alternative process photography" and use "handmade

I kind of switch around between using "historic processes" and "hand made
photographs." Alternative just doesn't cut it with me, sounds too much like
acupuncture or homeopathic medicine and has sort of a Mickey Mouse
connotation now.

Historic processes will soon add gelatin silver to its terminology as it is
coming to mean just about anything but digital.

>Another point. Quite a few digital printers use techniques to make the
>prints look handmade. Gluing prints on canvas and smear wax over the
>image, etc. Maybe the name needs to be "old style handmade

Yeah Jack MacDonald years ago wrote a book called "Making Old Fashioned
Looking Photographs." If he is the same MacDonald, long gone, that started
the Tri-Mac Photographic School where I studied in the late 60's, he was
also a teacher at Mortensens school in Laguna Beach Ca in the 30's and 40's.

UK Bromoil folks are fond of old looking photos too.

>I think the value is connected to the history and small scale
>methodology of processes to make the image and the print, not so much
>to the photoreactive chemistry. In my view, different appearance of
>the finished prints from those of Polymax dipped in Dektol or inkjet
>prints may be an epiphenomenon, although it may be more intuitively
>obvious distinction to average people.

That connection to history is also important and something I was just
writing about yesterday. Today I am mostly thinking about survival and
getting home. We had about 16 inches of snow last night and it melted a bit
this a.m. and a new cold front is moving in and the slush is freezing. Ah
the Santa Fe drought is over but eeek.

I see the digital printed image as a form of publishing. That really turns
me on. The quality is there only lack is the speed and cost. Once we can
print 10,000 8x10's in a couple of hours at a dime a piece we can publish
our own books. We just need a small scale binding system to make the
package complete. What effect will this have on digital print prices I dunno.

The one argument I hear referring to a digitally printed imageis "It took
me hours and hours to make that print" Some how this is an attempt to
relate the work to a hand made image. To an extent this is true, a hand
made Tabriz carpet may have in fact taken a family of 4 two or three years
or more to make. There is certainly a sweat equity factor in the value of
some art items. I do find that much digital photography is over fiddled
with. This of course can eat up lots of time just trying this and then
trying that. Whether this equates to sweat equity is another question. I
think not. It does not equate to a "hand made" image. The output printer
could be on another planet and that is hard to conceive of as handmade.

I am 65 years old and have been looking at "standard" photographs for most
of those years. I find the distortions of gelatin silver that carries
through to the printing process to be natural looking whereas I think
younger folks adapt more readily to the more linear images one can pull of
an inkjet printer. To me there is a sense of sterility to the "perfect"
inkjet image.

I am also appalled at the historic ignorance of folks who keep insisting on
calling inkjet prints carbon prints or pigment prints. Not to name names,
but I have corrected a number of photographers on this issue but they
continue the practice. There was even a set of cartridges being sold as
"platinum black" and Patrick Alt informed me that a gallery in Elay was
selling the prints as platinum prints. Seems the guy had even put brush
marks on them with Photoshop.

--Dick Sullivan

>Ryuji Suzuki
>"Well, believing is all right, just don't let the wrong people know
>what it's all about." (Bob Dylan, Need a Woman, 1982)
Received on Tue Mar 15 11:41:50 2005

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