My goal for printing photographs is to create artworks of value. To do so I follow a compass directed at creativity, effort, skill, irreproducibility, and historical and social knowledge. I choose to pursue alternative photography, because printing a photograph as many times as I wish on an inkjet printer doesn’t fit into my definition of art. The prints lack the life and value of a handmade print.
Creativity: I spend an extraordinary amount of time looking for creative solutions to problems within the printing process. Most attempts fail, but a few lead to improvements.
Carbon printing is also unusual in that any pigment can be used. Do you want a photo of hot chocolate made out of cocoa, why not?
Effort: I learned how to make a ‘good’ print using traditional methods of carbon printing within a couple months, but it took me almost two years working 12 hours a day to learn how to make a great print. Had I known the amount of time and money I was going to sacrifice to create a satisfactory print, I would have thought twice before heading down that path.
To make a single carbon print requires days of preparation and a full day to print. If any one of a hundred things goes wrong, I have to start all over again.
Skill: Nobody has ever picked up a violin for the first time and sounded like Perlman, or taken a chisel in hand and produced perfect dovetails. Skill takes practice, thousands of hours of it. It’s difficult to respect art that anyone could do without honing their skills.
Irreproducibility: Let’s say I make an inkjet print in a limited edition of 10. A person can buy that print, scan the photo, and then make a thousand more prints identical to the limited edition. If they are the exact same, why do the prints of the limited edition have more value? I can only make one print a day, and absolutely no one can make a copy of it. Even within an edition of carbon prints, there are small variations between each one. Every photograph is a unique work of art. The exclusivity and irreproducibility give carbon prints a value that inkjet prints never attain.
Historical and Social knowledge: Studying old techniques and conservation helps me avoid the mistakes of past printers whose photographs are falling apart.
Today’s world is all about instant gratification and getting things done fast. My work is all about enjoying the process, and is anything but instantly gratifying or fast.
To read more about the differences between wet (Alternative process) and dry (inkjet) prints, click on "Wet vs. Dry Prints" below or feel free to keep exploring other parts of the website.