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Andre Noble
3-Jul-2012, 05:43
Hello, I came across this article here http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/03/developing-in-the-darkroom-tray-by-tray/ of a young man of 31 described as a master printer who photographed developing trays of famous photographers in the article.

I feel there are few true "master printers" around, and nearly impossible to be one at early age of 31.

Agree or disagree?

darr
3-Jul-2012, 06:35
Are you saying a person's age has a lot to do with being a master printer? If so, I wholeheartedly disagree.
BTW, what age would you consider 'master status'?

Robert Skeoch
3-Jul-2012, 07:11
If you call yourself a "Master Printer", than you are one.
There are no criteria in printing, no degrees to acquire.

Interesting though I've found the best printers I know call themselves... "printers".

I guess it's like when a city or event calls itself "A World Class City" or "A World Class Event".

This happens in cities like Toronto, Detroit and Vancouver all the time yet doesn't seem to happen in cities like Paris, London or New York.

You might attend the Canadian Tennis Open, which they call "A World Class Event" while the French Open is called a tennis tournament.

Of course it's hard to know if he considers himself a Master Printer or if the journalist tagged him that way.

Jim Noel
3-Jul-2012, 07:20
I interpreted the article as saying he was photographing the work spaces of some he considered as master printers.

Bill Burk
3-Jul-2012, 07:22
I've called myself "printer" on IRS returns my whole life.

When I left high-school I though of myself as a master.

But now I don't consider myself master, at best "journeyman".

P.S. The tray in the photograph is Bill Burke's not mine.

vinny
3-Jul-2012, 07:34
Peter Lik is a "master photographer", maybe he can answer this. He never wears a shirt so that's a starting point. I'm on my way at the age of 35 since my darkroom is pretty warm and I work shirtless and barefoot. Age has nothing to do with it.

Brian Ellis
3-Jul-2012, 07:35
I doubt that there's a definition. My guess is it's like photographers who say on their web sites that their photographs are "fine art." If you have to say your photographs are "fine art" or that you're a "master printer" it probably isn't and you're probably not.

Jim Jones
3-Jul-2012, 07:39
Age has little to do with it, and an artist's own claim to masterliness little more. Franz Schubert is a yet underappreciated master, and he died at 31. Photography has been more competative than musical composition since the days of "You press the button,we do the rest." Social networking has lowered the standards of photography even more. At least John Cyr has created an imaginative niche, however trivial.

Jay DeFehr
3-Jul-2012, 07:39
Michealangelo sculpted "David" before he was thirty, and I could list innumerable other master-level accomplishments of people aged less than thirty. Why should printing be different?

Greg Blank
3-Jul-2012, 08:24
I disagree that age is required, maybe agreeing that the title 'master' is overused everywhere. Never the less saying so or not is up for debate. In any art form the level of craft expertise is determined by lots of factors and those doing the assessment is one. If you surveyed 100 people and they all agreed then maybe, Yet truth betold if those 100 were taken from the same limited field of reference the results come back as non relative. To then take 1,000 opinions that had wider, less limited assessment skills say folks that had art appreciation versus say a degree in accounting. If to the 1,000 you say Joseph Sudek was a master photographer some would agree just by the merit of his unique style. If you say he was a Master, and then it was found out he had only one arm- most people - I think would agree. But again there always those squirrels thinking he could have done better.

Drew Wiley
3-Jul-2012, 08:25
It's relative and bullshit term. Just keep at it, get some nice prints, and twenty years later
go back, look at them, and ask *@##!

Andre Noble
3-Jul-2012, 08:47
Alot of *artsy* answers, and the predictable parsing my reference to his young age (Sure one can be a master sprinter at 31, but not a master printer:)

Was hoping for someone to go out on limb, ie, "A master printer should know how to do X,Y, Z and have worked with a,b,c materials".

OK, I'll be artsy with you then.

Here what I consider a master printer: http://www.uelsmann.net/

and another: http://www.christopherburkett.com/home.html

neil poulsen
3-Jul-2012, 09:46
If I were going to be a master, it would be at creating the negative.

BrianShaw
3-Jul-2012, 09:56
Back when I used a "Master Printer", my definition was one who could produce the print I wanted in 3 iterations and with no hassles. The printer I used the most met this definition by producing (1) a work print, that I marked up; (2) a print made to those directions, plus some options; and (3) a final print. This is all it took most of the time. I dubbed him "Master" when I realized that his suggestions in step 2 were often better than my ideas.

Leigh
3-Jul-2012, 09:57
"A master printer should know how to do X,Y, Z and have worked with a,b,c materials".
Why?

If it were that simple the robo-printer in your local Walgreens could do it.

- Leigh

RichardSperry
3-Jul-2012, 10:06
Peter Lik is a "master photographer", maybe he can answer this.

Does he print his own prints?

Drew Wiley
3-Jul-2012, 10:08
I never make "work prints" or contact sheets. Sometimes the first print off is the best, sometimes not. Never know until they're fully toned and dried. People like Edward Weston
and Stieglitz couldn't even afford "work prints". I belive the former typically allowed himself
only two sheets of paper per initial image. This is pretty silly. Some gourmet chefs use only
three ingredients, some use fifty, and there are all kinds of variations in potential cuisine
itself. But why are they gourmet and Denny's is not, if both serve steak? This is all about
nuances, and not hard formulaic rules or someone's "A" list. I'll bet half the folks on this
forum have made some pretty compelling prints one way or the other. And I'll bet 100%
of the people who display on the walls of the lab down the street have never made even
one impressive print per se, no matter how artsy they try to be.

Bill Burk
3-Jul-2012, 10:16
P.P.S. I have a degree in printing too. But just to clarify... it's from Cal Poly and my career is "printing" in the graphic arts sense. It's a career path I chose because I wanted to stay in touch with photographic processes. I'm sure you've heard the advice. "So you want to be a photographer, well not many can do it so if you like the work you are better off being a dental x-ray technician or a computer chip photolithographer or a printer." So I'm a printer.

Ken Lee
3-Jul-2012, 11:27
Master Printer" Definition?

Definition: No.

It's Subjective: If we can't agree what a master print is, then how can we agree on a master printer.

BrianShaw
3-Jul-2012, 11:38
It (sic erat scriptum) we can't agree what a master print is, then ...

Good point. Master print in my vocabulary is:

1. The first print of an image that I really like enough to use in a real "professional" appliction
2. The print I consider the standard that should be used for all future reprinting of an image
3. The print that makes me more famous and rich than God himself.

In other words... even if master print could be defined, it might be a transitory title.

Ken Lee
3-Jul-2012, 12:16
Exactly.

It becomes circular: a master makes masterful prints. Masterful prints are those which exhibit mastery, IE those made by a master.

It reminds me of the old Chinese patriarch: "Things are things because of Mind, as Mind is Mind because of things."

Nathan Smith
3-Jul-2012, 12:53
I wonder if Tim Rudman's book "Photographer's Master Printing Course" affects this term - after all, if you've taken the Master Printing Course you'd be a Master Printer right? :)

mdm
3-Jul-2012, 12:53
A master printer is someone who has mastered the craft of printing.

Greg Blank
3-Jul-2012, 12:56
A master printer in my book could make a master print quality repro multiple times and each would hopefully look close enough to the first that i would be satisfied, that is silver, platinum print or Giclee aka A la "Epson". So my R1800 qualifies, but then again it sometimes really sucks.

Greg Blank
3-Jul-2012, 12:59
A master is someone that can also make you believe they have instilled you with special skills,....even if it is only illusion.

Andre Noble
3-Jul-2012, 15:05
I will bite:

For a person such as myself who uses exclusively variable contrast fiber paper, a variable contrast fiber paper master printer in my judgment should be highly skilled at:

A) knowing his gear, including choice of light source type, use of easels, neg carrier, proper mechanical alignment enlarger stages, avoiding fogging due to stray light, etc.
B) Range of exposure skills for example burning, dodging, pre flashing, contrast masking printing, split grade printing.
C) Expert judge of contrast grade needed for visualized final image.
F) skilled Archival processing, including proper washing, selenium and sepia toning.
G) Experienced with using a handful of paper types and developer type combination to achieve a pre-visualized final look.
H) Able to create beautiful prints CONSISTENTLY from any reasonably exposed negative.

my darkroom print from yesterday (Shot on Aura IR820) ...76604



Ansel Adams meets my definition of a master printer. Henri Cartier Bresson (by his own admission) does not.

nor does Andre Noble (yet) - for example in print above would like to have gotten a more detail in hair highlight. A master printer would have gotten it within a matter of minutes using flashing, split grade printing, or some other means.

Drew Wiley
3-Jul-2012, 15:23
All that you are describing Andre is a competent commercial technician. And Ansel Adams
would fail your definition anyway. Sometimes he took all day to make a single "keeper" print. Some negatives land easily on target, some don't. And most skilled craftsment today
could easily make a much better print in the technical sense than Ansel ever could. We've
got better papers and chem, better lenses and cameras, and certainly a bigger bag of tricks. But all of that put together doesn't necessarily add up to equivalent impact. In this
game there are a lot of intangibles. If there weren't, you could teach a machine to do it.

Jay DeFehr
3-Jul-2012, 16:08
I don't think there's anything about printing photos that would prevent mastery with 10 years dedicated effort, or less -- like most things. If a person hasn't mastered printing within ten years of dedicated effort, that person probably suffers some form of disability.

I know of many master printers, and some are among us. I've seen prints made by several forum members that can only be described as masterful. Today I've been looking at prints made by Wolfgang Moersch, and I can't think of anyone offhand that has mastered more printing techniques and materials, but Moersch works hard, and incessantly, experimenting widely and methodically. He's a printing machine. The really strange thing about Moersch, I suspect, is that printing is a byproduct for him, the way making negatives is for other printers (and Moersch, too). I think Moersch's printing is proof-of-concept, and the concepts are chemical ones. All Moersch lacks to be an evolutionary process is selection pressure -- there is no right or wrong answer, just interesting variations. I don't mean to suggest he works randomly -- nothing could be further from the truth, he always has a well defined objective -- just that his work doesn't serve a larger aesthetic vision. Moersch isn't try to express anything, but to explain everything. I think this makes him one of the most interesting, and least appreciated photographers (for lack of a better term) working today.

Sorry for the detour, just rambling.

Bill Burk
3-Jul-2012, 17:55
Andre Noble,

I think your list is a good list of what you might assume a master would know, it isn't necessarily a prerequisite list.

To find a master printer, I think we need to have a competition. I loved this video when I first saw it (thanks to an APUG link)...

Luciano Corvaglia gives us the plan... the winner can be named "Master Printer"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHl3H5iJTYI&feature=player_detailpage

jnanian
3-Jul-2012, 18:17
he owns silver 68 ( 3+ years ) and before that worked at MV labs in nyc ( 5.75 years )
he's printed photographs every day commerically for nearly 10 years for people like gordon parks ...
if he wants to be called a master printer at 31, i'll call him a master printer.
age has nothing to do with skill or expertise.

Leigh
3-Jul-2012, 19:01
The guild trades have a set of definitions that might apply:

The Apprentice learns the rules.
The Journeyman follows the rules.
The Master writes the rules, and knows when and how to break them.

I think that last phrase is particularly relevant to photographic printers.

- Leigh

Andre Noble
3-Jul-2012, 19:43
If you call yourself a "Master Printer", than you are one.


Yeah right, like on the dating sites where every woman refers to herself as "an attractive woman".

So you tell her to wait on the porch and you'll pick her up in your red Toyota coming from the south. In fact you drive from the north in a white Chrysler, scope her out, and if she's not "an attractive woman", you keep on driving.

welly
3-Jul-2012, 20:30
Age has little to do with it, and an artist's own claim to masterliness little more. Franz Schubert is a yet underappreciated master, and he died at 31. Photography has been more competative than musical composition since the days of "You press the button,we do the rest." Social networking has lowered the standards of photography even more. At least John Cyr has created an imaginative niche, however trivial.

Social networking has lowered the standards of photography? I don't think I would agree with that at all. I would say it's easier to make photographs more publicly visible and so with it, the bad photographs in the past that were kept in one's shoebox are now available for everyone to see.

Leigh
3-Jul-2012, 20:57
Printers and baters can both achieve Master status, with similar results.

- Leigh

tgtaylor
3-Jul-2012, 21:51
To my thinking a "Master Printer" is one that can print a negative

1. Exactly the way he wants to print it and,

2. Exactly the way someone else wants him to print it.

Thomas

Bill Burk
3-Jul-2012, 22:17
To my thinking a "Master Printer" is one that can print a negative

1. Exactly the way he wants to print it and,

2. Exactly the way someone else wants him to print it.

Thomas

Thomas,

I think you are getting close to the heart of the matter... I'll throw out a possible variation...

One may call someone a master printer who can print negatives exactly as they wish.

I would call someone a master printer who can print my negative exactly as I wish (or better).

Tim Meisburger
3-Jul-2012, 23:24
I think you fellows, Thomas and Bill, have the best definition. A master, by the way, would in historic terms just be someone who owned the shop. Not necessarily more skilled than the journeymen he (or in some cases she ) employed. In that sense, a modern 'master' would be a professional printer, but I think Thomas and Bill are closer to what we mean when we say 'master'.

Robert Skeoch
4-Jul-2012, 06:45
This is one of the better discussions in a while.
I enjoyed the youtube video that was posted as well.

-rob

Dennis
4-Jul-2012, 07:08
To master something is to be able to do with it what you want. To know how to make it serve your needs. To be the one in charge.
In that way to be the master of your craft is relative to what you need from it. Is anyone total master of everything about every type of printing?

Dan Henderson
4-Jul-2012, 10:07
WARNING: This thread is about to be hijacked.

In a previous life I was fortunate to attend the National Fire Academy. During one class we worked in groups to develop innovative solutions to problems facing the fire service. One of the groups tackled the wildland/urban interface, where many structures built too close to and unprotected from fuel that feeds wildfires are destroyed. They proposed a program where firefighters could be trained to inspect and "abate" these hazards. Their proposal suggested several levels of abatement certification based on education and experience, culminating in certification as a masterabater.

I have never since wished to be called a master anything.

Michael Cienfuegos
4-Jul-2012, 17:31
WARNING: This thread is about to be hijacked.

In a previous life I was fortunate to attend the National Fire Academy. During one class we worked in groups to develop innovative solutions to problems facing the fire service. One of the groups tackled the wildland/urban interface, where many structures built too close to and unprotected from fuel that feeds wildfires are destroyed. They proposed a program where firefighters could be trained to inspect and "abate" these hazards. Their proposal suggested several levels of abatement certification based on education and experience, culminating in certification as a masterabater.

I have never since wished to be called a master anything.

Is that an Italian bater?:rolleyes:

darr
5-Jul-2012, 15:09
warning: This thread is about to be hijacked.

In a previous life i was fortunate to attend the national fire academy. During one class we worked in groups to develop innovative solutions to problems facing the fire service. One of the groups tackled the wildland/urban interface, where many structures built too close to and unprotected from fuel that feeds wildfires are destroyed. They proposed a program where firefighters could be trained to inspect and "abate" these hazards. Their proposal suggested several levels of abatement certification based on education and experience, culminating in certification as a masterabater.


I have never since wished to be called a master anything.

lmao!!

Drew Wiley
5-Jul-2012, 15:25
Two very different kinds of skills, sometimes but certainly not always found in the same person: One admirable skill set is to takes someone else's negs or chromes make them look
good in print. Often the quality of the original is less than ideal. A competent commercial
printer has to encounter these things and be able to print them with enough efficiency in
time and materials and overhead to turn a consistent profit; but his own artistic bent might
or might not be nil. Then there are folks like me who only print their own work, and if I don't like a particular neg, I simply toss it or set it aside. But if it takes me ten more years before I learn the trick to print that neg prints exceptionally, that's fine too. But it's a fairly
predicatable axion that people who DON'T print their own work are seldom good judges of
what consititutes a fine print, or what kind of original best facilitates the processs.

mdm
5-Jul-2012, 15:53
I have just got an Andre Kertesz book, it is intersting to me that in his day to make a photograph you first printed the negative, the same applied in Atget's time. A good photographer was by defenition a good printer. Where now some run of the mill person accepted as a good photographer or even a famous photographer is unlikely to have built their reputation by producing prints, even here on the LFPF. The jpeg is everything.

SpeedGraphicMan
7-Jul-2012, 14:43
I am one and I am younger than he.

Years of experience has more to do with it than age, he could have been doing it since he was 5!

13 was when I started in wet-printing.

Leigh
7-Jul-2012, 15:03
I am one...
Anyone can claim to be a master printer.

It means nothing until other people start calling him a master printer.

- Leigh

Bill Burk
7-Jul-2012, 15:37
Anyone can claim to be a master printer.

It means nothing until other people start calling him a master printer.

- Leigh

SpeedGraphicMan may well be stating a fact, there are enough definitions in this thread.

I think we forgot to mention one thing... A master should have created a masterpiece!

John Olsen
7-Jul-2012, 16:54
As a printer, you're a master when people beseech you to work magic on their miserable negatives. Age is not very relevant, as there are some old codgers who started out as hacks and have progressed to excessive self esteem. You'll know a master when you work with one. I've been fortunate to find several, some even young, some even female. Who can guess?

Bill Burk
7-Jul-2012, 19:31
That's a good point, John Olsen!

The thought occurred to me that one need not be a master printer for their prints to be artistically significant!

Nobody in particular in mind, just saying if you appreciate a photographer for their images, and they print their own work, I don't think it should matter whether they are a beginner printer or a master.

Heroique
8-Jul-2012, 11:58
Everyone has the right to call himself a master printer, but no one has the right to be taken seriously.

Heroique
8-Jul-2012, 12:15
Now, the only way to really be a master printer is to have people call you a master printer, and those people who have called you a master printer also need to be master printers, who have been identified as master printers by other master printers who became master printers the same way.

Mark Sawyer
8-Jul-2012, 12:20
But which came first, the master printer or the egg?

Bill Burk
12-Jul-2012, 07:11
Just look through your own prints for a masterpiece, then look at when you made it. That will tell you when (or if) you became a master printer...