I get asked alot, goes something like this:
do you choose to produce your work through the traditional darkroom
method of photomontage rather than using a computer....?"
has only been around for maybe...20+ years? ...but it seems to have cast
a spell of 'cultural (& photographic?) amnesia'.
I'm now 59.... I started working w/ collage
when i went to college in 74-75, and when i started doing photo-montage,
in '82 or so, the darkroom and traditional methods were the only way
to do it - 'digital' didn't exist.
So to me, Photoshop is 'an option', but not a neccessity. From my
point of view, it is easy to ask the question: "Why
should i spend a pile of money, on a bunch of stuff that will take who-knows-how-long
to set up, and learn, when i
can produce something that virtually everyone who comments would agree,
is 'unique' and 'on the same level as P'shop" without bothering?...."
I never have to worry about an enlarger crashing the way a computer
Why re-invent the wheel?... I'm interested in making pictures - 'how
i get there' is secondary to the 'there' that i get to.
(P.S. 2010 - computers don't crash nearly as much as they did 10 years ago... but Photoshop is still 'an option, not a neccesity'! I now do plenty of digital work and some digital montage. None of it will replace the darkroom for me.)
level.... It *is* more limiting to work in a traditional darkroom -
and that is exactly what I like about it - you have no "un-do's"(especially
the way I do it, w/ one enlarger), you don't have a huge pile of 'eye-candy'
filters, and "cool effects"", etc etc... So you are stuck with really
figuring out *why* you shot whatever it was you shot...you are really
stuck with content...
and whatever partially finished print you are working on... I don't
mind the 'being stuck' part.
Years ago, I had a drawing teacher who
made his students spend one hour a week drawing 'from life' ( a model
of some sort..), and there was one absolute rule - NO Erasing! - (After
the hour was up, we slapped all drawings on the wall, and critiqued
caught a girl erasing - He rushed over, grabbed everything on her desk
'cept the pencil she was holding, & tossed it all out the window..!
(We were on the fourth floor.)
Somehow, that has always stuck in my mind.
first started montage, i combined all kinds of things, just for the
textures and spaces, and whatever wierd stuff i could do.... After a
few years, especially after coming out to California, I noticed something
else developing: There started to be a full circle between what i was
'compelled to shoot', & the image it ended up in.
needs some explaining. When I
go shooting, i really just 'go walking'..... I go to places I like,
and want to take in somehow, but I have no agenda, or plan most of the
time.. And i just walk, until something says "take me" - it's something
that 'shines', in the Stephen King sense of the word - there's a vibe
from another reality of some sort....I'm not sure how it 'connects',
but I take a few frames.
last 18 years in & around San Francisco, I've found a few places that have..
hhmmm how can i put it? - a certain something about them.. so I stop
I spend alot of time pawing over my proof sheets, and making small 'tracings'(drawings)
of things that 'gather moss'... When something 'grabs me', i start printing,
and i don't know, many times, how a picture will end, but i start anyway.
...and look at a partial test print/ or a drawing that i keep on the
easel, and go back thru the proof sheets.... until i find what really
finishes a picture off - the 'being trapped... and having to figure
it out' is the important part of it.
my process has evolved over the years, and the more comfortable &
confident I am about printing skills, the more variation there is in
how I approach any particular image. When I
shoot some images, i have an idea which ones maybe "the key" , or the
nucleus of a picture - I look over my proof sheets alot, and sort of
'store in the back of my head/subconcious/.... those images.
like my subconcious mind wants to work on them..... Sometimes, the picture
just lands in my minds eye - rather 'fully formed', and the printing
process is fast & more focused on the subtleties of the secondary elements
( clouds, horizons, foreground & back ground textures).
started to print these pictures twice - the first time, with the attitude
that "*maybe* this will be a finish....and maybe *not*..."
happens, is OK.
printing is usually done immediately after the first, when I see how
various 'overlays' are working, to refine the values or postion slightly.
I still have more of the same batch of paper and of chemistry, in trays,
and if I record the f-stop/exposure times, it goes really quickly.
PS 2010 - More recently, I have been printing several versions of the same image, during the same darkroom session - the first is rather simple, the following ones are more complex, and add more to the image. It's an interesting way to work, and I have more varying prints from the same 'thought'. :-)