When I was studying to become a photographer*, it was hammered into me that a photograph consists of two separate events. The first event occurs in a split second when you take the photograph (and we know that a photographic moment waits for no man or bluebird, so you better be on point, darlin’!) And the second event takes place in the darkroom where one makes the photograph.
So many questions require an answer when one makes a new photograph: Will it be cropped or enlarged? Will you dodge or burn it? Should you use a glossy or fiber paper? Should that paper have a slight blue cast or a slight yellow tone? And that’s after you’ve sorted out which print is “the” print from your contact sheets.
Some of my best memories come from working in the darkroom— you have lots of time to think and dream as you stand there counting off the seconds between stages on each test print; the room always room smells vaguely of swimming pools and afternoon naps. Even when my teenency bathroom was my darkroom, it still was this dreaming place, a natatorium where faces emerge miraculously from pieces of paper. When I am editing a photograph on my computer on just the right day, I will catch the whiff of chlorine and I’ll be back in that darkroom, any darkroom, dreaming and counting, counting and dreaming.
HEY! DIDJA SEE THE OTHER ONE?: Here’s the first series on Sam: Sam in the Afternoon
*Um, you never stop studying photography, I think. There’s always something you need to hone or learn or consider or revisit or contemplate. Photography, like writing, feels new to me every damned time I do it— and since I live for that feeling, I’m set for life.
**Is there any app in Android that’s equivalent to Hipstamatic on the iPhone? Also, iPhone users— Hipstamatic FINALLY got the long-overdue update it needed on Monday and it’s no longer crashing arbitrarily every time you use it… which I really could have used when I was photographing a certain lovely child’s third birthday on Sunday. But, no, the update was released on Monday. *Noisy sigh.* It all worked out all right, I think.