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Monday, September 30, 2013

A story about a visit to Carmel, California and the ignorant gallery employee

Words to the wise:

“Dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships”.  Ansel Adams 

Back in August (2013) I visited a very well known photography gallery in Carmel, California. Wonderful work to be seen there such as the work of the Weston family and Ansel Adams. I was thrilled that they were open but highly perturbed by the young and extremely ignorant gallery worker. 

To paraphrase the beginning of our exchange as I entered.

Gallery worker: Hi. None of the work has been manipulated like digital photography. All the work is from film photography.

Me: Really. What do you mean exactly when you say none of the work here has been manipulated?

Gallery worker: All the prints are traditionally made from the negative in a darkroom. They are not digitally manipulated.

Me: You mean to tell me that there have been no 'enhancements' done in the darkroom such as cropping, enlarging, or dodging and burning?

Gallery worker: Yes.

Me: I've got news for you. ALL photographs are enhanced be them film or digital. One form is not necessarily superior to the other by the way. Although traditional darkroom work is most certainly an art in itself. 

Gallery worker is quiet. 

I was not a happy camper hearing such ignorant words come out of the mouth of an employee of such a gallery.

This gallery needs to teach their employees (maybe it is only this employee) about how photographs are really made. People like me will flock to such a gallery just to see the work made by the greats. And when such a dimwit tries to engage me with non-sense, I walk away with a giant question mark above my head. How can this gallery have such a person speaking for them?

Here's a tip for the gallery owner: Have your employees read Ansel Adams' The Print, which details techniques for enhancing images in the darkroom. 

These great fine art photographers represented at this gallery made their photographs to reflect their artistic vision. They made their vision by enhancing their work in the darkroom, and sometimes their vision changed over time with new prints. The making of a print is a combination of not only the technical use of the camera, but also creative technique in the darkroom. The film or digital negative is just one of the steps in the process of making a photograph. 



 


2 comments:

  1. Yes, there is quite an uninformed negative bias towards digital photography today. Film is often thought of as "pure" photography and great digital images are often dismissed as "photoshopped."

    ReplyDelete

Matthew G Beall Photography is an American vision driven contemporary black & white and color fine art photographer and painter in Germany.

Thank you for taking a look at my black & white and color photographs.

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