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Michal Makowski
18-Jan-2013, 04:26
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?

SpeedGraphicMan
18-Jan-2013, 11:59
I could print them for you! I have a full fledged darkroom!
PM me if interested!

Ari
18-Jan-2013, 12:07
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.

Dan Henderson
18-Jan-2013, 13:33
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.

Light Guru
19-Jan-2013, 14:37
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.

ROL
19-Jan-2013, 16:55
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 (:o) have even gone as far as to post articles (http://www.rangeoflightphotography.com/pages/techniques) 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.

BrianShaw
20-Jan-2013, 06:38
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.

ImSoNegative
20-Jan-2013, 07:13
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)))

BrianShaw
20-Jan-2013, 12:09
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!

bob carnie
20-Jan-2013, 12:17
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 .

Andrew O'Neill
20-Jan-2013, 12:37
I used to print for a railroad photographer that specialized in steam. Beautiful work that he did in China, before diesel took over. Anyways, it got to the point where I was spending most of my time working on his stuff rather than on my own. That was the end of that. For my own work, I wouldn't dream of having someone else printing for me... while I'm still alive, anyways! :)

Jerzy Pawlowski
20-Jan-2013, 12:42
It is individual as well as type of photography matter, however based on your post and question formulation I think a large portion of your enjoyment and artistic input would be realized during darkroom hours. I would keep shooting negatives and for time being I would just produce contact sheets (this type of setup in the kitchen should not drive you crazy). Hopefully in near future situation will change and you will find space for darkroom. Anyway, think positive: it is bad to have no real darkroom but it is real frustrating having nice darkroom and not too many negatives to print.
You are in interesting area for landscape photography. I have a friend who travels there quite often to take B&W photos.

IanG
20-Jan-2013, 12:55
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 .

Like Bob I started printing for others in the 1970's in my case about 5 years earlier, I printed for one photographer for over 30 years until ill health meant he was no longer mentally capable and in hospital.

I'd echo Bob as well about printing style, in fact it's fun printing in ways you might not use for yourself.

Ian

BrianShaw
20-Jan-2013, 13:01
I'd echo Bob as well about printing style, in fact it's fun printing in ways you might not use for yourself.


That is one of the benefits I enjoyed by having someone else printing for me. I liked seeing the print as I instructed, but often I'd get a second print done completely differently... in a way I might not ahve ever imagined. Sometimes I liked it and sometimes not so much. In one situation my printer friend asked if he could keep the version I rejected to put on the wall of his home. That thrilled me.

Lungeh
29-Jan-2013, 13:54
I can't believe that no one has used the quote "The negative is the score, the print is the performance".

For print/publication, we always printed each other's stuff, that's one of the styles: a print where the faces are visible, tones that can be shot on half-tone screens. Any competant darkroom hand would turn out the same prints.

For art, the print is the final and crucial step in the presentation. If you are OK with sharing the stage, that's fine. The rest of the band should get credit also.

On a practical basis, I think it's important to know what your negative look like and if/how they are printable. You may think "I was there, I took the picture, I know it should look better than this", when you should be learning to improve your whole process (framing, exposure, depth of field, whatever).

Just my two cents.

John Olsen
30-Jan-2013, 21:04
When I lived in Japan I had no choice but to find a master printer for my photos. After several disasters I found a master technician a mere 8 hours round trip from me. Kubo-san did beautiful work and doubtless is a far superior darkroom technician compared to me. However, his vision was at a lower contrast than mine. As much as I appreciated his work, I didn't acheive my vision of certain shots until I returned to the US and built another darkroom. The lesson is, you won't be executing your vision until you do the whole process from start to finish. This is harsh, but if you don't do it yourself, it's not your work.

Brian C. Miller
31-Jan-2013, 00:01
Should I focus on making negatives and let him make the prints?

It is true that someone may be a far better printer than you, and you will never be their equal. Thing is, though, is that you should develop enough printing skill so that you can rough something out, like a sketch. Then you can take that sketch over to your friend for final printing. Once you do that, you will have far better input on the final product.

Jody_S
31-Jan-2013, 00:45
I was lucky enough to find (and be able to afford) a master printer when I was doing nature photography in 35mm. I don't think I would have kept at it more than a few months if all I ever saw were crap prints from Wal-Mart (I've never really printed color). I don't feel that the resulting photos aren't 'mine' in some way.

BrianShaw
31-Jan-2013, 08:02
i was lucky enough to find (and be able to afford) a master printer when i was doing nature photography in 35mm. I don't think i would have kept at it more than a few months if all i ever saw were crap prints from wal-mart (i've never really printed color). I don't feel that the resulting photos aren't 'mine' in some way.

amen!

Daniel Stone
31-Jan-2013, 10:13
Many well-known photographers have had "their" printer(s) work for them over the years. Some folks just can't do the darkroom portion, but the capturing, that's their specialty.

A guy I have a assisted a few years for now, here in LA, had "his" printer at a pro-lab back in the film days. He knew how he liked his stuff printed, and the 'default' print that was returned was usually correct, this included some minor dodging/burning if necessary(to the printer's eye).

I've done some prints(b/w and color) for others before, simply because I use a communal darkroom, and others saw me using it. I charged for time and materials, but the people who asked me to print for them got back results they liked, so I guess I did alright ;)?

-Dan

BrianShaw
31-Jan-2013, 10:34
... back in the film days.

Why past tense? For some of us, young man, this still is the film days. :)

Daniel Stone
31-Jan-2013, 14:06
I know Brian, I know :D

I was speaking in the commercial sense of the term "film days"...

-Dan