I neglected to clarify something technical in the original post about the gallery re-opening, so please consider this a kind of post-script.
The black and white photographs for sale in the gallery are printed from negatives in a traditional darkroom. I used to process my own negatives and still can, if really necessary, but these days, one film manufacturer of 120 mm black and white film winds it so tightly on the spool I can’t find the beginning of it in the dark, much less flatten out a slight “tongue” to get it on the reel for the developing tank. Fortunately, I know a couple of labs who can develop the film and do it well, also at a low (affordable!) price. However, if it becomes necessary, I will go back to processing my own film.
Anyway, I have an excellent darkroom, the chemicals are available and inexpensive (practically free compared to the price of an ink cartridge) and I have a lot of paper. And I LIKE to print my own work. In fact, I can print other people’s negatives, too, if anyone needs that done in a traditional darkroom.
I was all set to transfer all this printing to digital until yesterday, when I looked at three prints I had made from negatives scanned into my computer. I have copies of the images which I made in the darkroom, along with the printing notes. I’ve sold almost 100 copies of one of the images in question, and I know that people like it very much. And there it was, in a handsome white frame, no mat board, pretty much stuck to the glass.
This is a street scene, at night. As a darkroom print for exhibition, I mount and mat it, and I sign it on the border just below the image. Personally, I liked to use the heaviest Kimberley cardstock I could find (220 gr) in navy blue as the mat. Almost all the buyers liked it this way too. When I hung the work in the bigger gallery, framed, I switched to white Crescent board. (Mat boards of any color are extremely hard to find here. The best ones are Fabriano, in white only, at around US$50/sheet, and a sheet will give me maybe six mat boards. I did the math and decided to wait til I’m very very rich and famous before I buy the Fabriano.)
Anyway, I made a nearly perfect 11″ x 14″ digital print of this image on Epson Ultra Premium Presentation Paper Matte, in the 13″ x 19″ size.
But under glass and without a mat, it became just a black abstract graphic, with no soul or any of the other characteristics that had attracted so many people in the past. (Attracted, in fact, a month ago, a young woman for whom photography consists of aiming her cell phone at something and pressing a button. She found a small copy of this image in my catalogue, which I was showing to her boss, and became so wrapped up in it that she wanted to keep the catalogue.)
The man who runs the gallery where the three images are for sale does like the image, but I suspect he likes the framing a lot more. He said he could not afford to put a mat around the image, as it would raise the price of the frame + image. I did not argue.
However, I must ask–does anyone understand that, even in digital, a photograph is a photograph, and not some scribble on a cheap sheet of 90 lb bond?
I know that framing can help to sell a painting, a print or a photograph. Until yesterday, though, I didn’t know it could actually kill an image, but it can.
Therefore, anyone who visits the gallery should know that the photographs are really photographs, made in a darkroom, by me. They are not downloaded from the internet nor run through a printer at a lab. They are the genuine article–an image captured by me on film, probably in a Pentax, printed by me in my own darkroom, and matted and mounted by me or by my associate, Fernando. This is my version of fine art photography. Come take a look.
(C) 2012 by Metta Anderson – All Rights Reserved