photography in reverse: day nine


Today was our day for Printing 101, and the real beginning of what I consider the handcrafted side of Photography. I was surprised that four of my six students had never really printed much in a darkroom before, even the ones who’d had some experience with photography. Printing was always my favorite part when I first started, and I’ve collected a lot of good solid ways to explain it to students, so it was a pretty straightforward morning. (It helps to have students as quick and smart as these…) In fact, I’d had so much coffee that I sped through the whole demo – from chemistry to contact sheets to cropping to contrast – all in about an hour. Thankfully everyone seemed to get it, and were all soon printing remarkably well. It’s been so long since I actually printed in a darkroom, but I guess over so many years the knowledge and practice does add up. I kind of miss it, in fact…

I feel like we’ve finally hit the “craft” part of photography, here at the Craft School, and we’re moving away from the lovely balance of Playtime & Theory that we managed to strike last week, and on into the students’ own work, their own concerns. I do still want them to play (and to think!) but I’m going to start pushing them toward a project, and toward building a body of work. Heck, we have a show to do in just six weeks!

By the time we were back in the studio after lunch, everyone was pretty clearly in a groove, listening to some Miles Davis (thanks to Robin Dreyer loaning us some key CDs… I really should have installed a turntable in here, for the right Mid-Twentieth-Century vibe!) My assistant and I were on the board to show our slides tonight after dinner, so we spent some time organizing things in Powerpoint and making sure they made sense. I wanted my lecture to be under 20 minutes, but also wanted to show enough of my work while making a clear argument about technology, the future, and the past.

In the end I think slides went well, though I’m embarrassed to admit how much I wanted to chat to people afterward – you know, to have someone say, “That was good.” I’m generally pretty confident giving a talk on my work, but every now and then, well, I need a little whiskey beforehand, and a pat on a back afterward. It’s really absurd being an artist sometimes…

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