RECOG­NIS­ING THE CRAFT OF PRINT­ING

Professional Photography - - Welcome - Emma-Lily Pendle­ton Edi­tor emma-lily.pendle­ton@fu­turenet.com

Most pho­tog­ra­phers work­ing today no longer, or may never, step foot in a tra­di­tional ana­log dark­room. His­tor­i­cally, the pub­lic’s per­cep­tion of pho­tog­ra­phy has been tied to the pic­ture of some­one ex­er­cis­ing their craft un­der a scar­let safe­light’s glow, ag­i­tat­ing white pa­per in a tray of liq­uid. Is that col­lec­tive im­age be­ing re­placed with one of a per­son clasp­ing a sty­lus, il­lu­mi­nated by the light of their Macbook Pro? This month’s de­bate (page 96) broached the sub­ject of print­ing with pan­el­lists who have seen both sides of the dig­i­tal rev­o­lu­tion. Print­ing isn’t al­ways recog­nised as its own craft (and a ca­reer path in its own right), and we ques­tion whether more of today’s pro­fes­sion­als should take the time to in­herit the knowl­edge that’s such an in­te­gral part of pho­tog­ra­phy’s his­tory. Re­in­forc­ing the point in my mind was Stephen Shore, who we had the plea­sure of in­ter­view­ing this is­sue. He re­calls the ex­pe­ri­ence of de­vel­op­ing film in his fam­ily bath­tub – by in­spec­tion, no less, aged 14. It seems to me that all of pho­tog­ra­phy’s masters had an ex­pan­sive knowl­edge of print­ing. Al­though many em­ployed print­ers, the knowl­edge gained through col­lab­o­ra­tion in­formed their pho­tog­ra­phy and saw the creation of some of the world’s most iconic prints. If that knowl­edge about the craft of print­ing is lost, it will be a cry­ing shame. And that state­ment isn’t re­stricted to pho­tog­ra­phers. I bought a print with­out see­ing it re­cently, with­out a thought, and it wasn’t un­til a pho­tog­ra­pher ex­claimed that he never would in­vest with­out see­ing a print in per­son that I ques­tioned my ac­tions. The AoP used to name the printer of its com­pe­ti­tion win­ners. In­dus­try-wide, there ap­pears to be a loss in recog­ni­tion. This week I vis­ited Sir El­ton John’s The Rad­i­cal Eye ex­hi­bi­tion at Tate Mod­ern. It’s hard to be­lieve that this is a per­sonal col­lec­tion, such is its breadth and vol­ume. I found my­self up close to each pho­to­graph, ex­am­in­ing the phys­i­cal qual­i­ties of the pho­to­graphs… I’d seen the im­ages on­line, but the pho­to­graphs looked so dif­fer­ent and some­how more tan­gi­bly tied to their past in their phys­i­cal forms. My in­ter­est in print­ing is piqued, and I hope yours will be too.

On this is­sue’s cover is an im­age by mod­ern master Stephen Shore, of his wife Ginger Shore at Cause­way Inn, Tampa, Florida on 17 Novem­ber, 1977. Taken from the se­ries ‘Un­com­mon Places’. Read the in­ter­view on page 18.

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