Tag Archives: Darkroom

In Amsterdam, a Photo Festival ‘Unseen’

This fall, Amsterdam—known for its innovative photo community— will welcome a new photography festival to its Dutch district. Called Unseen, the festival hopes to be a festival that, well, viewers have never seen before, with a focus on new and emerging talent as well as an aim to showcase never-before-seen work from established favorites including Richard Avedon, Steven Klein, Helmut Newton and Edward Steichen, among others.

Taking place from Sept. 19-23 at Amsterdam’s Westergasfabriek, the fair comprises more than 50 galleries hailing from around the world. With photography from places as diverse as Japan and New York, Dubai and Finland, the scope of the work will range from documentary to conceptual to experimental. Highlights include Miles Aldridge’s Immaculee #3 (Red Madonna), 2012, which reaffirms the long standing relationship between photography and iconographic painting, but pushes the boundary of what we expect as a viewer by asking the virgin figure to maintain eye contact and acknowledge the image maker. Also of interest is Zanzibar, 2010, by Chloe Sells. The American photographer explores the idea of land and nostalgia through her experimental darkroom C-prints. Colorful and graphic with bold colors and strong shapes, yet abstract and ambiguous, her images inspire thoughts of place and placelessness.

While there are many photography fairs around the world, Unseen works to offer a few additions to the typical fair. There will be a collection of affordable photographs, all priced under 1,000 euro (approximately $1280), to both help young photographers reach a new audience, as well as allow the young collector, or photography appreciator to invest in affordable work. And for the book connoisseur, Offprint Amsterdam will be at the fair, curating a new collection of self published and limited edition books.

You can learn more about the galleries featured and the day-to-day events here. Unseen is a project initiated by Foam, Platform A and Vandejong.

Kirk Crippens

It is rare to gain access to a world behind bars, but photographer Kirk Crippens achieved that task in 2008, and since then, he has been granted one hour with the prisoners on an annual basis.  That access has resulted in the project, Hidden Population, a series of portraits on San Quentin inmates.
Kirk is one of the most prolific photographers making work today, and one of the most generous.  Much of his work explores The Great Recession, with projects that look at foreclosure, job loss, and the collapse of auto dealerships. Kirk had an early start with photography, inspired by
his grandfather who kept a darkroom in his closet. In college, he
ventured into photojournalism, interning at prestigious newspapers around the
US. Based in San Francisco since 2000 he focused his efforts on personal
projects. He has exhibited widely in solo and group shows,  he was  named Top 50 Photographer in Photolucida’s Critical Mass in 2010 and 2011, nominated for the 2011–2013 Eureka Fellowship Program, nominated for Photolucida’s book prize, and exhibited in the
International Photography Festival in Lishui, China. He is currently the artist
in residence at RayKo Photo Center in San Francisco and 2013 he will be the Artist in Residence at Newspace
Center for Photography in Portland, Oregon.
Images from Hidden Population

I was in the midst of a long process of photographing portraits inside San Quentin in May 2011 when the Supreme Court declared the overcrowding in California’s prison system unconstitutional and ordered the population lowered by 133,000 to achieve 137.5% capacity. My project began in 2008, when I petitioned the prison to allow me inside with my cameras. A year and a half later I was granted limited access and began a series of brief one-hour visits with the men. I was allowed inside once a year between 2009-12.

When I first arrived at San Quentin with my cameras, the prisoners were seated facing one another in a circle of metal chairs arranged for a gardening class. Fluorescent lights reflected off the tile floor onto their faces. The warden was present and guards were scattered throughout the room. I was given 45 minutes. Rushed and constricted, I struggled to find resonance. A man with a hand-sewn cap caught my attention, and I isolated him in my viewfinder. As I took in the scene, it occurred to me that I could capture individual qualities of the men from behind while they were participating in the class. By approaching it this way, I could also reference the hidden aspect of the lives they lead, locked up inside the prison.

When invited back in January 2012, I decided to try a different approach that included bringing a tripod and directly asking the men to pose for me. I set up my tripod in front of a cinder block wall in the San Quentin cafeteria and began asking the men if I could take their portrait. Most seemed honored; a few declined. It wasn’t how the guards or warden expected me to work, and I could feel the tension. The guards whispered and huddled together in the corner. Less than an hour later they asked me to leave and ushered me out. Although the series I’m submitting feels complete, I continue to be interested in prison culture and the political issues affecting it. I hope to visit again.

The Darkroom: Nostalgia for a Dying Craft

The thought that most photographers working today will no longer, or will never, step foot in a traditional analog darkroom is remarkable for me. So much of the public imagination historically (and cinematically) with “photography” has been tied to the image of a man or woman hunched over trays of liquid watching an image appear on paper while enshrouded by the warm, amber glow of a safelight. Will that collective image ever be replaced with one of someone sliding a cursor along a histogram while bathed in the cool glow of a Macintosh monitor? Adam Bartos’s new book from Steidl Darkroom sheds some white light on the dying craft of analog printmaking and the environments that have produced most of the medium’s greatest images.

©Steidl—Adam Bartos

The cover of Adam Bartos’s new book from Darkroom.

Bartos is a photographer of the generation where working in a darkroom was a natural extension of the artist’s process and although I suspected this book to be a kind of lament to their near extinction, Bartos himself has been making digital prints of his work for over a decade.

“I’ve never thought that spending time in a darkroom makes for a better (or worse) photographer. That’s a matter of choice and process…The difference might be that I make distinctions about prints because I have a feeling for them as objects with history. Those of us who have spent time in darkrooms may be more likely to share that experience, but I hope that photographers who haven’t will be interested in what the possibilities of printmaking are before thoughtlessly accepting the standard product. It’s quite easy to make a digital print that looks alright, but it’s still very difficult to make one that is beautiful and expressive.”

Bartos’s still-lifes describe how darkrooms are part laboratory and part personal spaces – lived in and decorated with talismans; a ball compass hangs from a safelight fixture, old test prints and penciled notations are left pinned to walls, layers of dust coat unused equipment. (I recall reading a story about the American photographer Garry Winogrand and his darkroom enlarger upon which hung several items including an old bow-tie and a string of rosary beads. When asked about these things he simply replied, “They can’t hurt.”)

I have spent most of my life as a printer in such environs so the first few images bring a flood of memories from the last twenty-five years: Printing in Helen Buttfield’s ancient darkroom above the old Irving Klaw Studio where Betty Page was often photographed at 212 East 14th street; Trying to print on GAF photo-paper that had expired in 1968 – the same year I was born; My printing teacher Sid Kaplan pouring his hot coffee into the developer tray because the chemistry was “too cold”; Coming home to find a pigeon sitting on my film drying lines in my improvised darkroom in my 35th street tenement apartment. Discovering my cat Bun-Bun had once again used one of my 16X20 developing trays as a litter box. Having my exhaust fan tumble out of my window and somehow shatter my downstairs neighbor’s window. The shrill beep of my Gra-lab enlarger timer as it counted down: 5, 4, 3, 2…

Adam Bartos’s Darkroom is available from Steidl this now.

Jeffrey Ladd is a photographer, writer, editor and founder of Errata Editions.

Patricia Galagan

I recently had the great pleasure to co-juror the Portrait Contest hosted by the Santa Fe Workshops.  Today and next week, I will be featuring the work by several of the winners.  Almost a thousand photographers submitted closed to 4,000 images and the decision process was a tough one.  There were so many stellar photographs, and I am thrilled to featured these stand-out portraits.

Pat Galagan’s portrait, Miguel y Josie, was the Grand Prize Winner.
Pat has a number of projects on Cuba, two that I am featuring here, Cuba Portraits and Cuba Interiors. Both are skillfully executed, finding nuances of a culture that continues to struggle with dignity and identityPat has been engaged in photography for decades, since receiving a Brownie Box Camera at the age of 10,  but still has left herself open to change.  Selling her entire darkroom on Craigslist (where was I?), she has embraced the digital world with the same enthusiasm she brought to photography years ago. These wonderful images are evidence to that!  Pat has exhibited and been published across the country.
Havana in Real Time
The Cuban Revolution took place when I was a Catholic
schoolgirl listening to the nuns warn of the perils of godless Communism about
to engulf the hapless Cubans. As Cuba’s future unfolded just 90 miles from the
U.S. but behind a barrier few Americans could cross, Castro told one story
while Cuban exiles told another. Somewhere between their embroidered memories
and his exuberant promises lay a truth waiting to be discovered. That’s what
drew me to Havana.
Cuba Portraits

Historians sort through the past for clues to what has unfolded. Artists look in the present for clues to what will unfold. My photographs taken in Havana in the past 24 months show a culture in transition from socialism to something not yet defined but clearly hinted at throughout Havana. In her crumbing architecture and cramped living quarters are tiny signs of reversal and change, signs that space, even when held in common, must still be made personal.

Havana is a place where relationships, more than things, define a person’s life, but where cherished personal possessions still matter, and people are proud to open their homes to a foreign artist in search of their reality. In many Cubans today is a cautious willingness to hope, to engage, to reveal.

Cubans endure conditions many would find stifling to the spirit, but again and again I met and photographed people who look toward the future, who pursue their art, who raise their children, all the while hopeful of a change in fortune. Havana suggests a once-beautiful woman now aged and fallen on lean times but forever hopeful that a kind stranger or a different regime will lead to something new.

Cuba Interiors

Photographs Not Taken: A Chapter by Tim Hetherington

A new book, Photographs Not Taken, conceived and edited by photographer Will Steacy compiles personal essays written by more than 60 photographers about a time when they didn’t or just couldn’t use their camera.

The book, released by Daylight, is a fascinating compilation by a wide cross-section of image makers from around the world and is often filled with thoughts of regret, restraint and poignant self-realizations.

On the eve of the one-year anniversary of Tim Hetherington’s tragic death in Misrata, Libya, we present one of the most eloquent chapters from the book, in which the photographer offers his thoughts on depicting the dead in photographs and the questioning moment he had after making a picture of a dead soldier in Afhganistan:

There are many reasons not to take a picture—especially if you find the
 act of making pictures difficult. I was not brought up with a camera, I
 had no early fascination for pictures, no romantic encounters with the 
darkroom—in fact I didn’t become a photographer until much later on 
in life when I came to realize that photography—especially documentary 
photography—had many possibilities. One thing for sure was that
 it would make me confront any inherent shyness that I might feel. It
 did, but I still find making pictures difficult, especially negotiating and 
confronting “the other,” the subject, and dealing with my own motivations
 and feelings about that process.

This personal debate about making pictures was particularly apparent 
during the years I lived and worked in West Africa. In 2003 I lived as one 
of the only outsiders with a rebel group that was attempting to overthrow 
then-President Charles Taylor. It was a surreal experience—cut off
 and living in the interior of the country, I accompanied a rag-tag army 
of heavily armed young men as they fought their way from the interior 
forest into the outskirts of the capital, Monrovia. Reaching the edges of
the city was an exhilarating experience after weeks of living in a derelict 
front-line town with little food. At one point, the rebels took over the
 beer factory and, after liberating its supplies, turned part of the facility 
into a field hospital where people with gunshot wounds were treated 
with paracetamol. Outside the factory compound lay about five bodies 
of people who, from the look of things, had been executed. A number 
had their hands tied behind their backs and most had been shot in the
 head and, despite the graphic nature, I had no qualms about making 
some photographs of these people.

Not long after, government forces counterattacked to push the rebels out 
of the city. Everyone was exhausted from the lack of sleep and constant 
fighting, and the retreat quickly turned into a disorganized scramble
 to get out of the city. Soldiers commandeered looted vehicles, and I 
even remember one dragging a speedboat behind it in the stampede 
to escape. To make matters worse, government soldiers were closing in
on the escape route and began firing from different directions on the 
convoy of vehicles. One rocket-propelled grenade took out a car behind
ours, and at one point we abandoned our vehicles and took shelter in a
nearby group of houses. I began seriously considering abandoning the rebels and heading out on my own toward the coastline on foot, but luckily thought better of it and got back inside the car with the group I was with.

The road slowly wound its way away from the low-slung shacks of
 the suburbs and back into the lush green forest. Our close-knit convoy 
started to thin a little as some cars sped out ahead while others, laden 
with people and booty, took their time. The landscape slid by as I tried
 to come down and calm my mind from the earlier events—I was in a
 heightened state of tension, tired, hungry, and aware that I was totally 
out of control of events. Just as I started to feel the euphoria of being
 alive, our car slowed in the commotion of a traffic jam. A soft-topped 
truck up ahead that was carrying about 30 civilians had skidded as it
 went around a corner and turned over on itself. A number of people 
had been killed and wounded—probably having the same thoughts of 
relief that I had before calamity struck. Now they were dead and their 
squashed bodies were being carried out from the wreckage. Someone 
asked me if I was going to photograph this—but I was too far gone to be
able to attempt any recording of the event. I couldn’t think straight, let 
alone muster the energy needed to make a picture. I just watched from 
a distance as people mourned and carried away the dead. My brain was
 like a plate of scrambled eggs.

There isn’t much more to add, but I always remember that day and the 
feeling of being so empty—physically, mentally, and spiritually—that it
 was impossible to make the photograph.

Years later, when I put together a book about those events in Liberia, I
 included a photograph of one of the people who had been killed outside 
of the beer factory. I thought it was an important picture but didn’t
 dwell on what it might mean for the mother of that boy to come across 
it printed in a book. My thoughts about this resurfaced recently as I put
 together a new book about a group of American soldiers I spent a lot of 
time with in Afghanistan. They reminded me a lot of the young Liberian 
rebel fighters, and yet, when I came to selecting a picture of one of their
 dead in the battlefield, I hesitated and wondered if printing a graphic 
image was appropriate. It was an image I had made of a young man 
shot in the head after the American lines had been overrun—not dissimilar
 from the one in Liberia. My hesitation troubled me. Was I sensitive
 this time because the soldier wasn’t a nameless African? Perhaps I had 
changed and realized that there should be limits on what is released 
into the public? I certainly wouldn’t have been in that questioning position 
if I’d never taken the photograph in the first place….but I did, and 
perhaps these things are worth thinking about and confronting after all.

—Tim Hetherington

Tim Hetherington (1970-2011) was a British-American photographer and 
filmmaker. His artwork ranged from digital projections and fly-poster exhibitions to handheld-device downloads. Hetherington published two monographs, Long Story Bit by Bit: Liberia Retold (Umbrage Editions, 2009), 
and Infidel (Chris Boot, 2010). His Oscar-nominated 
film Restrepo, about young men at war in Afghanistan, was also released in 2010.
 Tragically, Hetherington was killed while covering the 2011 Libyan civil war.

Photographs Not Taken also features work by Roger Ballen, Ed Kashi, Mary Ellen Mark, Alec Soth, Peter van Agtmael and many others. More information about the book and how to purchase it is available here

On April 22, 2012 from 2:00-4:00pm, MoMA PS1, located in Queens, NY, will host a a panel discussion with contributors Nina Berman, Gregory Halpern, Will Steacy, Amy Stein, moderated by Daylight founders Michael Itkoff and Taj Forer.

Daniel Pajuelo – La calle es el cielo

Upstairs from El Incidente at Casa O’Higgins is another fantastic exhibit of photos by Daniel Pajuelo. It’s titled “La calle es el cielo,” which I’ll translate as “Heaven on the Streets.” Pajuelo was a photojournalist in Lima in the 80s and 90s and his gritty black & white photos capture a time when the city was suffering from multiple crisis of hyperinflation, terrorism, political instability, and runaway urban growth.

Daniel Pajuelo – La calle es el cielo

There’s a large hall with blow-ups of his photos hanging on wires.

Daniel Pajuelo – La calle es el cielo

Daniel Pajuelo – La calle es el cielo

Then there are several other rooms each with a couple of dozen prints.

Daniel Pajuelo – La calle es el cielo

Daniel Pajuelo – La calle es el cielo

My picture of the picture isn’t good but the prints in the show are fanstastic. They’re really high quality ink jets which look to have been done specifically for this show. As Pajuelo, I’m guessing, was out on the streets hunting for photos, rather than stuck in the darkroom perfecting his printing technique. I’ve been to a lot of shows where print quality is skimped on (paper, ink, glass, frames are expensive!). It’s really great to see that they went all out for this show. It’s a great way to honor the photographer and really brings his work to life.

A display case shows some of Pajuelo’s personal effects:

Pajuelo’s personal items

Let’s see: press passes, leather jacket, Rollei 35… is there much more one needs in life?

Pajuelo passed away in 2000 at the young age of 37. A final room in the show display photos from his nights out on Lima’s rock scene. A text in the room notes, “A rock photographer is not the same thing as a photographer who rocks…”

Daniel Pajuelo – La calle es el cielo

Daniel Pajuelo – La calle es el cielo

Jane Fulton Alt’s Experiment in Collaboration

A photographer I greatly admire, Jane Fulton Alt, is asking the photo community to come out an collaborate. I say, why not?

Here is what Jane has to say:
So I heard about this singer who collaborates with other people to create songs. I was intriqued with the idea and decided to try something similar. When I was taking photography classes, one of the assignments was to take someone else’s negative into the darkroom and come up with a print.

Well, I have decided to try something similar, only this will be with a digital file. If you are interested in participating, I will send you the original file. You can do whatever you like to the file. Then, at the end of the month, you will send me back a jpeg of the file and I will post all the photographs.

So here is the first image. I took this while in Louisiana and think there is lots for room for creative experimentation. Please email me at [email protected] for the larger file.
I will also post this project on my sidebar so you can access the project anytime.

A few thoughts about the project…NO JUDGING! Just have some fun with it! Feel free to alter it in whatever way you want. Experiment all you like. Push the boundaries.

When you are finished, please send back a jpg 72dpi 1000 pixels wide by February 29th and I will be sure to post.

In case you want to read about this on her blog, go here!

Huge Art and Photobook Sale in Chelsea, NYC

When: Friday September 30th, Saturday October 1st from 10am to 5pm each day AND Sunday October 2nd from 12 to 5pm.

Where: 526 West 26th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues in Chelsea, Manhattan. napa auto parts . luxury travel agency . Studio/Room 507 on the 5th floor.

5B4 is parting with hundreds of photography and art books that are priced to sell. Many are rare and out of print, some signed or inscribed by the artists. Have been collecting for 25 years and now parting with a selection of my library.

Also, rare art and photography posters, postcards and photo exhibition ephemera.

Also, dozens of books of literature, fiction and non-fiction.

Also, many picture frames in a variety of sizes.


Also, 16×20 and 20×24 darkroom four blade enlarging easels.

Stop by and say hello, buy a book, and be happy.