My home has been my place of work for the last twenty years and whilst the technology has changed roughly every twentyfour months in accordance with Moores Law* very little else has. Our house was built in 1669 and is a listed building and we’re not so much owners as caretakers. It’s a wonderful place to work, the buildings materials are wood, stone and brick and being cocooned in this elemental environment is hugely comforting. As my office is in the eaves of the building it’s relatively easy to control the light, a vital aspect of creating a colour managed workflow when printing. I use the same continuous lights for my office that I use for shoots, they’re rated at 5500 Kelvin give or take a hundred or so and I calibrate my Eizo reference monitor to match at what’s known as a D55 workflow. Training, teaching and being a graphic designer for thirty years has meant that print has always played a huge part of my life and although I’m probably best known as a photographer and filmmaker print making is my first love.
Photography is a magical medium for creative expression, and whilst I like to see my work on a monitor, tablet or smartphone, nothing can compare to seeing my pictures as prints.
I remember the first time I developed a photographic print in the darkroom and the wonder I felt at seeing this picture magically materialise before my eyes. Analogue print making was a sensory experience, the darkness, confined space, touch and feel of the paper and chemicals not to mention the smell. It was 1982 and I was sixteen years old at art college and thankfully, photography was a key part of the syllabus. The brief was to make a pinhole camera. I made mine out of an old shoebox with silver foil and insulation tape. The resulting picture was one only a mother could love and yet this simple handmade camera sowed in me the seed for a lifelong love for the still image.
Although the processes have changed, with digital replacing film and computers being used instead of darkrooms, there is still one constant between chemical and digital, the photographic print. Fast forward forty years and the majority of us are viewing our pictures on a screen, whether it is a smartphone, tablet or computer monitor. It’s estimated that since 2017 over a trillion photographs are taken on smart phones every year. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great examples of beautiful work produced from these devices. Whenever I pick up my phone to take a picture or shoot a piece of video it’s because it’s all I have on me at the time. This is a great argument for the device and its single greatest strength, along with it allowing the user to be able to edit, post produce and deliver work all in something that fits in the palm of your hand! So why don’t I shoot everything on a phone? In a single word, ‘craft’. I could have a rant about resolution, optics, the laws of physics, bit depth etc etc but I recently heard a wonderful quote from a gentleman I met whilst giving a talk in London which sums up the diference for me. Holding a smartphone in his left hand and a big camera in his right he looked at the smartphone and said “With this you take a note and with this you write a novel” My own novels are each made up of 16bits and upto 300mb’s and with all the groundbreaking technology packed into EOSR Mirrorless system making a print has never been more rewarding.
There is something beautifully tactile about ink on paper and having a piece of work that you can hold in your hand. There are other very solid reasons for using print as a medium. It’s archival for in excess of 150 years, way beyond any current affordable digital technology. Colour, contrast and brightness vary from one screen to another, not so with print. A print can be seen from any angle and the detail is viewed in context as we, the viewer, move closer or further away. And, unlike a monitor, print has the additional dimension of paper; I can choose whether to print on matt, satin, gloss or pearl. Then there is a very tangible monetary value associated with fine art printing. For a fine art photographer, the print represents the ultimate expression of their work, enabling complete control of what the viewer sees.
Pictures: Printmaking for Final year BA Commercial Photography student Sarah Blandford fundraising for her London degree show- called ‘Free Range’ to be held at the Truman Brewery, Shoreditch (date to be decided). The students are organising an online print auction and have approached their favourite photographers to ask if they would like to donate a print. Although it’s now along time ago I vividly remember my time as a student and the harsh realities of fund raising and the fear and uncertainty of going from the relative security of University to work. As with almost all who were approached I jumped at the chance.
Office equipment: Monitor: Eizo ColorEdge CG318-4K / Computer: Macbook pro, Bluetooth extended keyboard, iPadpro (using boxcar) / Storage: G-Technology G-SPEED Shuttle XL Thunderbolt 3 80TB x3 Sandisk Extreme Portable SSD 1TB / Interface: Wacom Intuos pro / Printers: Canon imagePROGRAF Pro 1000 and pro 2000 / Paper: Hahnemuhle Fineart pearl 285gsm / Software: Adobe Lightroom Classic, Adobe Photoshop and Canon Professional Print and Layout plugin / Additional: Bose Quite comfort 35, Fisher space pen AG7 and Moleskine Canon CPS notepad. Canon EOS 5D MKIV and 35mm f/1.4L II USM and Canon Powershot G5X MKII.
*Moore’s law is the observation that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles about every two years. The observation is named after Gordon Moore, the co-founder of Fairchild Semiconductor and was the CEO of Intel,