How To Describe Your Work?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Mr Man, Oct 27, 2012.

  1. Mr Man

    Mr Man Member

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    In the “olden days” it wasn’t a problem you called it a silver gelatin print or toned silver gelatin print and every one knew what it was and that it was printed from a film negative. But these days there is a lot of digital / analogue hybrid work going on and a silver gelatin print (or any alt process print) can be produced from any number of and combination of processes. So how do you describe your work so as to inform the viewer that it has been created from a totally analogue process and differentiate it from work that has been produced on a computer and then just printed onto photo paper?

    “Silver gelatin print derived from analogue negative” bit ambiguous and could still contain a digital stage.

    “Silver gelatin print printed from film negative” film negative could have been produced digitally.

    “Silver gelatin print produced from analogue negative”

    Suggestions welcomed.
     
  2. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    One way: "100% analog, shot on film and printed in a wet darkroom."
    Another: "No pixels were injured in the making of these photographs."
     
  3. ROL

    ROL Member

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    Hand made. All that other stuff you suggest is just blather to most viewers. Most work being viewed initially and primarily on the net, which obviously IS digital, I support my own work on my site with articles (and videos) describing my processes.
     
  4. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    I'm going to say "Silver Gelatin Print" and leave it at that. Looking at Portfolios of Ansel Adams, there is a bit of technical information on the pages leading up to the shots. Those details are brief, meaningful.. and probably what you really are looking for in terms of being "fully descriptive"
     
  5. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    But you can produce a silver gelatin print from a digital source. I think the OP wants to differentiate between the two.
     
  6. Grainy

    Grainy Member

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    Common people don't know what a silver gelatin print is, and they don't care either.
     
  7. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi mr man

    it really isn't the process that is important, but the final product anyhow ...
    i learned this years ago shopping my work around galleries
    i showed them single edition prints, that were made
    using a process i was calling "hybrid photography"
    non-traditional negatives, traditional silver prints ...
    i was sent from one gallery to the next
    because they didn't believe they were photographs
    but something else ...

    eventually i learned that none of it matters ...

    but if you must have labels
    silver print is fine ...
     
  8. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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    Silver negative enlarged to silver gelatin print

    Traditional enlarging from film negative
     
  9. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    I would say all images originate on film, but would describe my galleries as colour and mixed media, or black & white and mixed media.
     
  10. Mr Man

    Mr Man Member

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    Grainy, I think you a re probably right. But surely, if we value our work, it is our responsibility to educate the “Common people” as to why a silver print is so much more special than a digital one. My work will often contain my blood, sweat and tears depending on how clumsy I have been in the darkroom, how hot it is in there or how much trouble I am having with a particular print :smile: (come to think of it there may be an arts project in that). If we do not champion what is special about analogue photography and what makes it special it will no doubt disappear even faster than it appears to be doing at the moment.

    Hi jnanian, if the process isn't important why were you having so much trouble convincing the galleries that the work you were producing was photography, If the process isn't important then anything from a photogram to an image produced entirely digitally, and anything in between, can be classed as photography.
     
  11. j-dogg

    j-dogg Subscriber

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    photosynthesis.......the harmonizing of mother nature with man's machines

    I have so many workflows it's ridiculous, everything from 35/120 c-41 -> print to full digital
     
  12. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Does anyone think the world is ready for "Analog Silver Gelatin Print" ?
     
  13. Dan Henderson

    Dan Henderson Member

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    The photographs hung in the co-op gallery I belong to are identified as "silver gelatin photograph," or "sepia toned silver gelatin photograph" or "silver gelatin lith print." But I also have a card hanging with my work explaining the analog nature of it.
     
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  15. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi again

    i really didn't did try that hard. i was a 20-something year old kid and it was the early 1990s ...
    the galleries ( even famous ones ) didn't know what to make of what i was doing, so they sent me to other galleries
    that might be working with similar "looking" prints ... if i really wanted to convince them
    i would have had them in my darkroom or have a friend shoot a vcr tape of me making the images
    so they could see what and they were and how they were made, but i didn't and ended up
    part owning a gallery with a bunch of other friends / artists / writers &c because it was the art that was important
    not the other BS that revolves around it ...
    so, nope, it doesn't matter and yes i do believe that anything from a photogram to a image printed entirely digitally and everything
    inbetween can be classed as photography. photography is a broad and general term ... using cheap construction paper
    leaving it in the sun with something on it which will fade and photogram and image can be considered photography,
    or taping acetate with words on it to your back or arm and getting a tan print can be considered photography ..

    it might not be what YOU consider to be photography, but it is exactly that ...

    good luck with your labels !
    john

    btw people talk about hybrid photography and hybrid prints today and it is a mix of digital and analog media
    i was using the term in 1988 to mean something totally different ... i don't refer to my single edition prints made with
    non camera negatives as that sort of thing anymore, i just call them photographs ... labels just confuse people
     
  16. Mr Man

    Mr Man Member

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    and yet people are determined to give everything a label, and if they can't do that they just dismiss it.
     
  17. CPorter

    CPorter Member

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    I believe the process is important or there wouldn't be a site called APUG, so this notion that only the final product is what matters is nonsense, IMO, at least within the confines of these forums. So, I think you ask a relevant question. That said, I like folks knowing that it's a film capture and I like folks knowing that the print is hand made (hell, these days, clicking a mouse all day in PS could be considered hand made) by the traditional wet darkroom process.
     
  18. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    not really sure what you mean by that ..

    no need to be nasty ..

    good luck with your labeling
     
  19. Mr Man

    Mr Man Member

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    I simply mean that the public and general media like to label and pigeon hole people and their work as it makes them easier to pin down and ridicule.

    I did not attack your work at all, I am fine with your work, if you shine light at something and create an image then it is photography. I was just interested in the contradiction within your post.

    I could consider this as nasty. I never asked for “labels” I was just interested in how others describe their work for exhibition purposes. As curators, the media, the arts establishment and the public like to put “labels” on peoples work. You obviously have done a lot of exhibitions and so your work is valid I have done none and and so mine is not I was just asking advice that's all.
     
  20. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Obviously another digital vs analog slugfest.

    In the first place NO fine art or even decent digital print is "just printed onto photo paper."

    In digital as in analog. The process starts way back at viewing a scene or subject. The "photograph" is first and foremost processed in your brain. All your prejudices and experiences converge to aid you in making the decision that that subject or scene has potential. Then and only then do you decide to use some sort of recording device to capture and store it.

    Nobody on earth can do what you just did.

    From there you work with your recording device to make that scene or subject a real physical object that you can share with other people or just horde and look at yourself.

    There are numerous platforms and processes that enable you to do that and when you are done, you are the only person on earth that could do what you just did.

    To take that unique object and reduce it down to a process is doing a disservice to you and to the various processes available to you. You, your brain, your hands, your experience, your emotions have created something unique and you wish to advertise it as a process?

    The tools you have chosen to create something have no bearing on the value of the object unless you decided to degrade it by labeling it that way. Your technique is merely a means to an end. And if you take that work of art/craft and need to label it, then you have not advanced to a place where your work has enough impact to sell itself.
     
  21. Maris

    Maris Member

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    As a matter of personal clarity and discipline I have devised a description formula that applies where a picture of one of my photographs can be seen but the physical reality of the photograph cannot itself be inspected. The commonest occasion for this is when I post an electronic file derived from the scan of a photograph. Here is a recent example from flickr:

    [​IMG]
    Late Fall, Lake Jindabyne​

    Gelatin-silver photograph on Ultrafine Silver Eagle VC FB photographic paper, image size 21.3cm X 16.4cm, from a Fomapan 400 4x5 negative exposed in a Tachihara 45GF double extension field view camera fitted with a Schneider Super Angulon 75mm f5.6 lens and a #25 red filter.
    Titled and signed recto, stamped and annotated verso.

    That, I reckon, just about says it all and succinctly too.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 27, 2012
  22. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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    Why so many problems with labeling? Isn't that done in arts since ever? Don't people write "oil on canvas" or "oil on wood" if it is oil on canvas, or oil on wood? "Indian Ink drawing" or "charcoal slack" or "pencil"?

    The Italian voice of Wikipedia describe seven different techniques of engraving:
    http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incisione

    I wouldn't be able to detect the difference observing the print, but technique certainly has an interest for those "in the know". And certainly ultimately it's the not the technique that determines the value. But it is not irrelevant information I believe.

    Not a claim of superior quality. It's just a description of the technique used.
     
  23. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    I agree. If you ever enter a competition, or apply to a juried art festival, you'll need to describe your technique. It's not a relative value judgement. It just helps put the work's creation into context.
     
  24. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    That's a great thought/observation!
     
  25. CPorter

    CPorter Member

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    I agree......since there are so many ways a photograph can be produced, a label to describe the particular technique is informative, if it confuses people, then so be it.
     
  26. Brian C. Miller

    Brian C. Miller Member

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    Actually, when I first saw the phrase "silver gelatin" referring to an artiste's photograph, I had no idea what that meant. Then I was told that it meant a normal photograph. I was not thrilled with the artiste. I thought that it was pretentious.

    Now, I would say "100% traditional photo-chemical process." Everybody has some inkling that film uses light and chemicals, without computers being involved.