A recent post focused on the personal value of a wedding, event or family album. Now I’m excited to write about one of my favorite photo subjects, and one that is often overlooked: PAPER.
Although I still hand-process my black & white film, I stopped manually printing my photos four years ago. It was SO hard for me to completely make this shift. First of all, I love printing: I started when I was 14 years old and never stopped. And to be honest, I’m just plain stubborn!
In addition to printing all of my black & white work for over 20 years, I also printed some of my color photography and enjoyed some alternative processes as well. One of the most fascinating things about the printed photograph is that the same image can have such a different look, feel and vibe depending on the paper and process it’s made from. Every so often, I’d get into “Mad-Scientist mode” and experiment in my darkroom by taking one single negative and printing it onto one type of paper, processing it 3 or 4 different ways; and then repeating this with ten or so different papers (all using that one image). I had a way of cutting the edges of the paper to use as “code” to decipher the paper/chemistry combo to later compare them side-by-side. At the end of the day, my darkroom would be literally COVERED with over 50 variances of the exact same photograph. My assistants would enter the darkroom to find me with a big smile on my face! :-D
I have now trusted the printing process to Printmakers in Pawtucket, RI and iolabs in East Providence, RI. They are different types of printers for different types of projects. Printmakers still processes my color film and they maintain excellent print quality. They add, "We at Printmakers are excited to witness the shift in the creative world as the process has swiftly become more digital over the years. As a result, we’ve become nostalgic towards those original analog traditions. There is something irreplaceable about the touch and feel of the printed page. The tangible quality of paper is the reason why it has become a selectively used material, now reserved for specific purposes. In short, when someone chooses paper, they are commemorating something worthy of note; paper is as important to the business as the work itself."
With iolabs, there are many photographic papers and surfaces to choose from and all of them are of superb quality. Over time, I’ve come to rely on a couple of “Go-To” papers for the majority of my work: I know what to expect from these particular papers and I feel they represent my work really well. But there are times when a photo calls for something different: I recently had a large piece made for a client that looks fantastic as a super gloss finish. Although I rarely print on glossy paper, I couldn’t imagine this one done any other way - it looks fantastic. And another photo may look better on completely flat matte finish. It really depends on what we’re going for, and these are collaborative efforts between my client, my printer and myself. Bonus: I still get to be a mini-mad-scientist while trying all of these papers (you can take the girl out of the darkroom but you can't take the darkroom out of the girl)!
iolabs adds, “iolabs is devoted to offering a wide range of papers for any artistic medium. Each paper is hand selected and tested in our studio to ensure that we are providing our clients a paper that we trust to perform consistently and perfectly. We are proud to offer a handful of photographic papers that print images with clarity and sharpness, in conjunction with archival qualities to help ensure that the image outlasts us all. The simple act of choosing a paper provides the opportunity to select a material which adds a greater level of representation to the image. Ultimately, a paper choice plays an important role in representing your message as a photographer.“
I am definitely a believer that it’s the ENTIRE process that will dictate the strength and impact of the final outcome. I have been truly fortunate to work with both Printmakers and iolabs to ensure this for my photography.
Email me anytime for topic suggestions and feel free to comment, ask questions and share. Thanks for reading!
Peace, Love & Happy Planning,