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Welcome to the original Zone-10 Website. This has been replaced by the new website which should be accessable by directly going to 
www.zone-10.com . The direct link is http://www.zone-10.com/d1  and should load directly.

 

This original site will be shut down  by May 1, 2017.

Where B&W Film Photography Stands Today

There is a resurgence of B&W darkroom photography. Surprisingly, it's not among the older generation(s) that have done it before, but among those who have grown up knowing only digital. It's the old tech (which is now a couple generations old, so it's desirable again) that attracts many.
 
Darkrooms can be set up very inexpensively (people will give you everything), and the choice in materials is very good--with almost everything on the market being top-notch quality. You don't have to get fancy with a darkroom--I wrote about setting one up in the utility closet! It is easy to do and learn--especially if you have a mentor.
 
The attitude among the "wireless" (used to be "wired") generation is that they use electronic devices and computers all day long in their work and lives. Why would they want to use the same for artistic purposes when everybody and their dog is doing exactly the same thing?  "Oooo, look--another piece of Photoshop 'art'".
 
I've shared the story before, I'm sure, but I pretty much grew up in the darkroom. I'm sure D76 is coded in my DNA somehow. For about 15 years I eschewed B&W and worked almost exclusively in color and using labs as well as computers to do my editing. I was going digital (with scanned film) by 1990. Getting back into B&W was actually a weird event in 2000 that was kinda inadvertent. Four years ago I decided to get out of the B&W darkroom and dedicate myself to digital. Then a funny thing happened. When I decommissioned the darkroom, I immediately recognized that as an error. We bought a condo with no space for a darkroom thinking that it was behind me. Not! For the past year we've been looking for another place that does have space for my darkroom again.
 
It's an old saw by now, but Digital Photography is to Film Photography what Film Photography is to Painting. Some people think that one has replaced the other--and for the general masses that is true, but for the artist, each medium has specific reasons for being. Painting hasn't ceased and will never cease. Film Photography is also an art which may adapt to changing materials, but will always exist in some form. Digital Photography is the "current norm", but someday it will be replaced by something else for the masses. I vaguely remember the '80s where video was going to replace photography...
 
The question each of us needs to ask ourselves is this: "Am I going to be just one of the masses or am I going to be different?" True artists are different--they carve their own way forward. What we see on Flickr is an abomination. Somebody will create something "original" and within 48 hours there will be 2000 copies of that image. One person came up with the concept and 2000 people immediately copied, perfected and displayed the result as their own. Frankly, we're better off carving out pages from a magazine, framing them and hanging them on the wall.
 
Digital Photography has made it easy for everybody to kind of homogenise our photography. HDR? Over The Top Saturation? Bed-spread sized prints? None of that is special. Even B&W photography has been cheapened by people who think that desaturating and cranking up the contrast is B&W photography. End result is the usual yawner garbage. I'm not slamming Digital Photography, though, because every technological advancement in photography has brought out the copycats and wannabees. Nothing new here, and I'm as good at copycatting as the next. (All wedding/portrait photographers are plagiarists).
 
If your market is selling prints in an art show setting, you might want to try selling hand-crafted Silver-Gelatin prints in smaller sizes. When EVERYBODY else is selling rug-prints, you stand out with a different product which the true collector recognizes as special. Of course, it's got to be good--you just can't schlock garbage around, but when everywhere you look is fast-food joints, a good steak dinner sounds good.

 

Ken

 


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