Monday, June 23, 2014
Being a Photographer 2014
People had many many different kinds of cameras and ways of processing their film. One photographer brought his own portable dark box(pulled behind his car) so that he could share the process of wet plate collodian image making, an antiquated process that makes for images that look straight out of the 19th century. I saw photogravures, paladium prints, tintypes, lith prints, cyanotypes, and bromide prints, among others. All had the feeling of the hand, of age, of respect and of great care. There were a few images that were done digitally, but not many. We spent time Friday afternoon taking a group photo(all ninety of us)with a huge, box camera that, once the shutter was cocked, turned in a slow circle so that, just after it swept by you, you could run to the far end of the line and have your photo taken again. The sheet film used was enormous, and people were exhausted from running from one end to the next. I think I may have been in one shot four times.
As the keynote speaker, I became more and more apprehensive as the time grew closer to do my presentation. Here I was, with my digital camera making quick, sloppy photographs using my computer(a PC no less) and ink jet printer that I then cut up and glued down on top of paintings, of all things. I could picture a still audience, punctuated only by the door opening and shutting as more and more people began to stream out. In the days preceeding my talk, I had found myself trying to explain how bad a photographer I was, and how, even when I had used a medium format camera and a had beautiful darkroom to work in, I still managed to turn out bad photos. I didn't want to be caught in a lie, after all, not around these folks. Of course, this wasn't the case. The audience was warm, receptive, and completely with me as I showed images and talked about my work. As my talk went on, it became standing room only--the opposite of what I had envisioned. Questions were intelligent, humorous, genuine, and kind. My presentation over, I felt the complete and total rock star. A real photographer after all--or perhaps, better said, a slightly perverted real photographer.