The Darkroom RIP?

Ok, so I am behind on my reading. This morning I was reading through the Fall 2007 Aperture (Issue no. 188) and ran across the words of Martin Parr (page 56). Accompanying photographs of darkroom details by Michel Cameau, Parr goes on about how he has not been in a darkroom in twenty years and how nostalgic looking at the images make him feel. Close to the end he writes this on page 56:

In a few years’ time, these places will inevitably be extinct. Who in their right mind would want to lock themselves away and play with chemicals, when today an inkjet printer can render a print of quality equal to that of a traditional print (and of superior archival durability)?

Well Mr. Parr, I am one of those people not of the “right mind”. I am one of the ones who choose the process employed to produce the visions in our heads, not those of others. The choice to not use digital output is not always about trying to match a “traditional print” in quality or archival attributes. Photography is not just about the glossy images that sell junk to the masses, and this is something that seems to have been forgotten. Hmmm…..maybe I will try one of my digital-to-plate images tonight on my inkjet……..

It is funny how what was mainstream once becomes the “alternative” or “traditional” process. Just as there are people still working with the Daguerreotype and wet-plate collodion processes, the silver darkroom will go on with a small number of loners working away in the dark. And one day, many years from now a resurgence will happen when those who want to say more than the multitudes around them will “rediscover” the darkroom, which will have been around the whole time.

I shoot digital. I print digital. I combine digtial with silver and back again. I print from digital to wet processing….and I also play with 1800’s technology. One thing that I cannot stand about the photography world is the this-is-dead-that-is-dead-those-are-the-best game! If you are a creative person that is listening to this type of crap and changing the way you create based on the current fashion then shame on you.

At the close of the article Mr. Parr says this:

These photographs show the passing of an era. As digital production takes hold to a greater and greater extent, we will look back at these images and mourn the darkroom’s passing.

The darkroom didn’t pass, Mr. Parr turned his back on it “more than twenty years ago”. People often choose to limit the resources they have to create images that fulfill their visions based on the choices and ideas of others (of organizations).  This follow-the-leader (or technology) games places ones self in a box, a box built for someone else.  If this way of thinking is of a “right mind” then I hope to be the craziest person on the planet. My hope is that I am not alone.

So do you care to buck the system?  Check out the site of Ed Buziak for what you are getting yourself into.

Ok…thats it…im done ranting. I am going to go create something now… my darkroom.

 ADDTION 12-18-2007:

I would like to make clear that this post is not a personal attack on Mr. Parr who is a well established photographer with world wide recongnition or any of his many many interesting projects.  It is the idea of following “progress” blindly that I am attacking.  Mr. Parr’s words just happen to spark me to write.


~ by Phil Nesmith on December 17, 2007.

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