Fiber Prints Washing
This might be better after drinking a bottle of Nyquil.
I have to say. The more of these prints I make, the more I realize just how good they are. I’m not saying I’m a great printer because I’m not. What I’m saying is, comparing these prints to the BEST inkjet prints I can get, I still see a real use for silver.
Can you get great digital prints? Sure. And in some cases they look better than the analog version. I’m not saying, “never print digital.” What I am asking is “Why draw a line in the sand and condemn the analog process?”
I think most of the folks pushing inkjet are doing so because that is their business, and also because it is just far quicker and easier to make digital prints. However, as we all know, quicker and easier does not always lend itself to making something better. Look at initial auto quality. Or how about houses built with hand driven nails as opposed to nail gun. There are many more examples.
I tell ya, when this first print came up in the developer today, even after twenty years, I had a smile a mile wide on my mug. It never gets old.
So I know a lot of you are never going to go in the darkroom. I know a lot of folks have written off the idea of silver. So do this. Take one of your favorite negatives and have someone print it for you. Choose someone who is actually a good printer and have it done. You will be amazed.
And on a business note…. for those of you still doubting me. Over the past several years, when I have shown work to collectors, and I’ve given those collectors a choice as to whether they can have a silver gelatin print or a digital print…every single person has requested silver over inkjet. Every single person. In fact, I’ve never had a collector ask for digital prints. Ever.
If you only print digital, no big deal, people are willing to collect those, but when given a choice….I’ve had nothing but silver. In part, this was what drove me back to the darkroom after a FIFTEEN year break.
I tell ya. I feel, in some ways, like I’ve been missing the point for all these years. I realized for me, quick and easy was destroying my photography. Digital capture made me a sloppy photographer and digital printing made me a sloppy photographer and printer. Now, I’m S-L-o-w-l-y finding myself again. I feel like I’m thinking again, and when I’m in the field and I know I’m going to print in the darkroom, I”m FAR more involved in the photography process than when I’m shooting digital and printing digital, when I can rely on the electronics to save me from myself.
I see a future for me, and that future might not involve me “working as a photographer,” but what it does involve is me slowing down, working solely on my own work, regardless of where it ends up, who sees it, etc, but where I slowly and deliberately make images. In short, a departure from the modern photography world.
The ideal would be to have my own darkroom, which I’m working on, but even making prints in my current system, renting space, is perfectly fine. In some ways it reminds me of the “old days” when photographers would gather in the darkroom, exchange stories, insults, blows, etc. How can that not be good?
My message with this post is simple. Don’t just join the ranks of those saying, “Analog is dead, digital is better,” because MOST of those people have an agenda, and the agenda trumps your creative side. I’ve been to three shows in the past month, and two out of the three were printed analog, and were far superior to the show printed digitally, and it wasn’t just me expressing this view. So before we rush off into the next great thing, leaving behind everything that has gotten us where we are today, let’s take a second and use our heads.
Take a look around, it’s not like the photography business can get much worse.