On limited printing – the wonders of the dark room

As you can probably see by the side bar on the home page, I have updated my Etsy shop. I have added some color prints today, literally fresh out of the dark room and I am very proud of them.

The one that I am particularly proud of is this one:


It took me quite a while before I finally got the perfect combination of magenta and yellow on the enlarger to match the look I had in mind.
This photograph is part of my small Geneva series, composed mainly of double exposures that I took on my bus ride to the airport.

Now the thing I wanted to delve into, also connected to the shop to some extent, is my choice of not printing more than 2-3 sometimes 4 copies of my prints.
As you know the process of printing in the dark room already makes the photographs themselves unique. Even the slightest temperature change can alter the print, not to mention the chemicals’ reaction with the paper will always produce slightly different results. This is already a point in favor of analog printing but I personally don’t want to print, say 20 copies of one photograph mainly because I don’t want to do chain production, especially with prints that are so work-intensive and time consuming to do.
Unlike commercial labs, I don’t need to develop and print massive amounts of photographs per day and it may sound strange but most photographers I know don’t spend too much time in the dark room. Dark room work is the work you do when you have shot, developed and selected the prints you need for a particular project, so that you end up using the dark room a couple of times a month.
Also, and most importantly, analog printing is not a process for which one prints 24 photographs in a row within an hour. It’s a long process, made of trials and errors, adjustments (aperture, time, contrast, etc..) and eventually it can take a whole hour before you reach THE perfect look, the one you had in mind. Processing times also need to be taken into account: prints (especially baryta paper prints) need to be washed for long periods of times (depending on the the paper and chemicals used, it could be also 30 minutes) and this obviously affects the speed at which one can work.
This kind of attention, precision and love is really meant to produce unique pieces of art and not à la chaine kind of production.

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