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Thread: Negatives printed by someone else?

  1. #1
    Michal Makowski's Avatar
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    Negatives printed by someone else?

    After many years of color in 2011 I have switched to the B&W. With Fred Newmanís help I calibrated my workflow. The negatives are looking great. Iím currently using 4x5 and 6x7 cameras and Iím really enjoying shooting. But I have no space to build my own darkroom, my L1200/ VLS501 combo is sitting in the basement together with other equipment (trays, easels, chemistry, bottles, etc.). Once for a while I take all this stuff to my kitchen and Iím working overnight. I know that work in the well build darkroom is pure joy but in my case itís very painful experience. When I put together ďkitchen conditionsĒ and fact that Iím newbie in the darkroomÖ I want to throw all stuff trough my window.
    One of my friends is photographer and printer (this is his job). His prints are truly amazing; I would have lock myself in the darkroom for the next 10 years to get to his level. Should I focus on making negatives and let him make the prints? How many of you are working in that way?
    Michal Makowski - Karkonosze Mt. National Park

  2. #2
    SpeedGraphicMan's Avatar
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    Re: Negatives printed by someone else?

    I could print them for you! I have a full fledged darkroom!
    PM me if interested!
    "I would like to see Paris before I die... Philadelphia will do..."

  3. #3
    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
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    Re: Negatives printed by someone else?

    Michal, darkroom printing is a specific discipline, and a learning experience unto itself; one that you undertake only if it interests you.
    My brother-in-law, a top Paris photographer, never spent a minute in the darkroom, and maybe five minutes on Photoshop in his thirty-year career.
    He always has his stuff printed by someone else because his specialty is taking photographs.
    I have shot thousands of rolls and sheets of B&W film, but I've never learned nor used the Zone System.

    So do what you do best; meanwhile, if you have the time and inclination, learn a new trick or two.

  4. #4

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    Re: Negatives printed by someone else?

    There are as many answers to your question as their are photographers. Being responsible for every step of the process from creating the composition to matting and framing the finished print is one of the things that interested me in analog black and white photography. I cannot imagine having someone else print my negatives, but that is just me. If you are happiest making great negatives for someone else to print, then that is the way you should work. If at some point in the future you are no longer satisfied letting someone else print for you, then you will know it is time to find a way to have a darkroom in which to work.

  5. #5
    Light Guru's Avatar
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    Negatives printed by someone else?

    Unless your agreement with whoever prints your negatives includes them making all the changes you want until you are completely satisfied with the final image then you cannot fully consider the final image yours, it would be an interpretation of your image.

    Two people could take the same negative and make two vary different prints.

    You say you don't have the space for a darkroom but have you considered scanning your negatives and editing them on your computer.
    Zak Baker
    zakbaker.photo

    "Sometimes I do get to places just when God's ready to have somebody click the shutter."
    Ansel Adams

  6. #6
    ROL's Avatar
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    Re: Negatives printed by someone else?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michal Makowski View Post
    Should I focus on making negatives and let him make the prints?
    You're asking a direct and valid question, and I am going to answer you in a very direct and valid way. If it were easy, everyone would be printing their own work. Are you looking for the easy way? If you value your work as your own, print them yourself. Photo lab businesses are built around doing other's work. I am probably alone in this paradigm, but if I were printing for someone else I would be tempted to sign above their name on any print I printed for them.

    A fine art print is the final visualized, artistically executed, vision of the photographic artist. It's a process – for which there is plenty of help here and elsewhere. Apprentice yourself to your friend. Find someone's darkroom work you admire and pepper them with questions as you progress. Some generous people () have even gone as far as to post articles and videos on the web, only for the purpose of helping others. Having a permanent, committed darkroom space, no matter how small, may be the key to your committed process. Do you want someone else to do your work? I certainly don't, and don't.

  7. #7

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    Re: Negatives printed by someone else?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dakotah Jackson View Post
    Why not check with your friend and if he is agreeable, pay him to make prints from a few negatives to see if you and he can work well together. Not every printer has the ability to print the way you like. Seeing if he can do so to your specifications while still allowing him to check with you for possibilities you have not seen in the negatives can be of benefit to you both if it works.

    Robert Mapplethorpe did not print his own work.
    X2. I am not Mapplethorpe, but I did not print my own work either. My printer worked with me to my specifications and did a paid job. And a fine job he did! The suggestions of my printer were alsways appreciated but not always implemented.

  8. #8
    Large Format Rocks ImSoNegative's Avatar
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    Re: Negatives printed by someone else?

    the biggest problem for me letting someone else print my negs is they were not there when i captured the scene, when i first come upon a scene that i want to photograph usually there is a "wow" factor. and even if they were there, not sure if two people would feel the same thing, i know when i take my wife with me who is a photographer also (not LF though) she will ask me something like "why do you want to take a picture of that?" so i guess its an individual thing. in short, if i let someone print my negatives, they might as well have captured the image, even if i digitally print, the only photoshopping i ever do is what im able to do in the darkroom, things like contrast control, dodging and burning and i will keep doing that until i reach that "wow" that i felt when first came upon the scene. (((after i wrote this, i read ROL's comment above, he says it best)))
    "WOW! Now thats a big camera. By the way, how many megapixels is that thing?"

  9. #9

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    Re: Negatives printed by someone else?

    I totally understand the view point that an artist should be doing 100% of their art, but throughout photogrraphic history there has been people who have used skilled technicians to print for them. There is a language to help a photographic artist instruct a printing technician to evoke the artist's intent -- whether it is the WOW factor experienced at image capture or something more mundane. That is nothing new, nor is it a shameful way to perform photographic art.

    My experience is that a "master printer" has been able to help me evoke that WOW factor that I experience; more-often-than-not helped even more than I could help myself. I appreciate that kind of collaboration and would gladly give credit if that was asked. Interestingly, I have never been asked to do so. (I'd LOVE to know if there has been other experiences regarding printing credit.)

    But seldom do I hear of a printer just being given free-rein by a serious art photographer to interpret a neg any way they want.

    In the end it really is an individual thing, as ImSoNegative so rightly says!

  10. #10
    bob carnie's Avatar
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    Re: Negatives printed by someone else?

    I have been printing for **others** since 1976 when I graduated from photo school, I also print for myself.

    Believe it or not there is over 40 different printing styles one can learn. The best printers IMO learn the different styles, and like the chameleon change their printmaking to match
    a photographers wishes. A good printer does not try to place his/her stamp on others work, in fact that is the kiss of death if you plan to make a career out of printmaking.
    For my clients who wish I will sign on the print that I made it .

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