The unpredictability and imperfection of analog photography at the printing stage

The unpredictability and imperfection of analog photography at the printing stage

Laura Tota · 7 months ago · Photography

Although we are increasingly talking about artificially created images, analog photography is experiencing a renaissance. But how does it differ from digital? How does a photographer approach film and how does he approach his printing process? We talked about this with Mariano Doronzo, an Italian photographer and a poet based in England since 2013.
His photographic research begins with documenting his personal journey within the British landscape and culture with an old analog camera. At the same time, he specializes in the use of the darkroom, from negative development to traditional darkroom printing. In 2021, one of his works is selected by Magnum Photos for a long-term mentorship with Matt Black and Susan Meiselas. He is currently working on producing his first photography book.

Shooting on film is a very peculiar approach to photography. Although digital photography has now become mainstream, analogue photography is making a comeback. As an artist, how do you justify this new enthusiasm for film photos?

fotografia analogica

It’s all about feeling, like to what happened in music with the vinyl record comeback. A digital photo is generally sharper, clearer and has more information compared to a film photo, but for some people it will be cold and soulless. A film photo will carry less information, yet for a lot of people it will have a greater emotional value.

Firstly, this happens because we have something physical, a concrete entity we can connect with just by touch. Secondly, analogue as opposed to digital photography is not immediate. The process is long and laborious and options are very limited. Shots are not wasted aimlessly (considering that films are very expensive nowadays): the effort and time spent on every picture make each photo more valuable. So, what did happen in this process? We made life harder in order to appreciate the result.

Some people say the film comeback has got to do just with a nostalgia factor for a specific aesthetic. I believe it’s much more than that. Definitely a reaction to a society where everything has to be rushed and perfect. Error, unpredictably and imperfection remind us we are human and give the artist and their audience a chance to suspend expectation, and for a moment, to allow life to take its course.

On printing a photo, its tangible form is already visualised in the photographer’s mind: do you think the approach in making a print is different from analogue to digital?

Photographers, no matter what technology they use, should preferably visualise the final outcome in the moment they take a picture as they wish to make a print or simply share it online. Post corrections can be tricky and complicated sometimes and do not guarantee to always present as we wish. Traditional printing from film is also a very long and expensive process in which every change of parameter (even simply adjusting the contrast) requires a print test to see the result. To make things easier, we are better off intervening at the time of shooting and also during film development (for example using particular techniques such as pulling or pushing the film) in order to minimize interventions during the printing process in the darkroom.

It is (perhaps wrongly) believed analogue photography does not allowed as digital photography post-production and editing after the shot has been taken: is this a preconception or not?

It is definitely a preconception! Post-production has always existed. An example (not the only one) is an edited photo of the USSR Communist Party in 1934. Stalin had one of the members removed from this picture as he was later considered an enemy for the state. It is said that over time, when other were also suspected of treason, Stalin made party members removed one after another until he was the one and only member to appear in the photo.

The darkroom is a sort of a wonder room for those who print their own photos: what are the essential tools to get perfect prints? Also, how many times you can get it wrong and try to print again the same photo from film?

Perfect prints do not exist. The quality of a print is very subjective: taste and personal vision are key factors in the decision process. Not less important is how we want to convey a concept through a particular type or way of printing. What feeling do I want to communicate with my photos? This is the question I try to ask myself every time I print. And every time I find myself producing completely different prints, even from the same negative, simply because we are in a different mood every day. There is no right or wrong print, but different ways of seeing a photo.

fotografia analogica

Can you briefly explain the darkroom printing process? What advice would you like to give to those who want to build their own small darkroom?

Let’s assume that we have already developed a roll of film, printed the contact sheet (by placing the negatives on the photographic paper) and chosen the negative to print with the right crop. We insert the negative in the enlarger and we make sure its projection is of the needed dimensions and in focus right on the easel where we are going to place the photographic paper. At this point, starting from a neutral contrast, we have to calculate the correct exposure time to make sure the print looks as we wish. To do this we have to cut a sheet of photographic paper into five strips of equal size and expose each of them to a different time, for example 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 seconds. We develop the strips by dipping them together in the developing tray, then we move them in the stop bath to stop the development and finally in the fixer to stabilize the image. If one of the strips will appear exactly as we wish the print to look like, then we can expose an entire sheet of paper to the corresponding time. We carry on dipping the paper in the three different trays as we did for the test strips. Then the print is washed and finally hung to dry.

My advice is to start printing, even in a small bathroom at home, with basic equipment and in small size, at least to practice the basics. Once you have improved your technique, it will be easier to manage a larger and well-equipped spaces such as those of a professional laboratory.

In the case of commissioning a professional laboratory to print your photos, what are the main criteria to get the best results?

Most professional labs can generally guarantee good prints. For best results, I would choose a lab based on the printer – someone who does understand my vision, in order to give my prints that feeling that resonates with my taste. Similar to the choice of a recording studio, although technology guarantees good sound quality, bands will still choose a studio who works with bands with a similar sound to guarantee their album a sound that reflects their artistic vision.

fotografia analogica

Ascolta: Spigola Ep. 6 – Emanuele Ferrari

The unpredictability and imperfection of analog photography at the printing stage
The unpredictability and imperfection of analog photography at the printing stage
The unpredictability and imperfection of analog photography at the printing stage
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Wasted Youth by Federico Hurth

Wasted Youth by Federico Hurth

Giorgia Massari · 1 month ago · Photography

In an era characterized by the uncontrollable proliferation of digital images, selfies, and the widespread use of filters that distort the perception of the contemporary world, photographer Federico Hurth captures an authentic portrait of youth, but one that is burnt out. His project, titled Wasted Youth, is a true reportage, or as Federico himself describes it, «a personal photographic diary in which I collect snapshots of carefree moments.» His strictly analog shots depict faces, bodies, and situations, always following «a damned, fashionable, artistic, musical aesthetic.» In Federico Hurth’s shots, the melancholy and inner rebellion of a generation emerge. Some of the shots from the project, which Federico has been working on since 2021, will be exhibited at the Doppia V Gallery in Lugano from October 20th to November 17th, in an exhibition curated by Francesca Bernasconi.

Federico Hurth’s photographs are devoid of any post-production manipulation, «if a photo has a flaw, I keep it that way. Precisely to maximize the authenticity of the moment,» the photographer tells us. Wasted Youth offers a glimpse into fragments of youthful lives lived intensely but, at the same time, in a way that may seem “wasted,” in line with the title of his project. The aesthetic, which oscillates between the glitter of glamour and the darkness of decay, reflects the complexity and uncertainty that the contemporary context offers to young people, who are at the mercy of looming precariousness.

In conclusion, quoting the words of curator Francesca Bernasconi, «Federico Hurth’s photographs are characterized by an intriguing immediacy and an instinctive and decisive formal exploration, strongly linked to the revolutionary aesthetics that emerged in the 1990s through the work of a generation of photographers, often, like Hurth, straddling the worlds of fashion and alternative artistic scenes.»

Courtesy Federico Hurth

Wasted Youth by Federico Hurth
Wasted Youth by Federico Hurth
Wasted Youth by Federico Hurth
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Daniel Obasi’s Vision of Africa in Lavazza’s New Calendar

Daniel Obasi’s Vision of Africa in Lavazza’s New Calendar

Anna Frattini · 1 month ago · Photography

We attended the unveiling of Lavazza’s new calendar, a project that takes us into an uncharted Africa, brimming with energy, experimentation, and a forward-looking spirit influenced by its culture and the diverse communities that inhabit it. Three photographers collaborated on this year’s calendar: Thandiwe Muriu from Kenya, Aart Verrips from South Africa, and the latest addition, Daniel Obasi, whom we had the privilege to interview. The theme of Africa as the birthplace of coffee remains strong, linked to the Giuseppe and Pericle Lavazza Onlus Foundation, founded in 2004 and now involved in thirty-three projects across three continents. With Nigerian roots and a holistic approach to photography, Daniel Obasi is a creative talent who seamlessly blends fashion styling, cinema, photography, and art direction to create captivating and distinctly African narratives. Here’s our interview with him.

How did you first get into photography?
I started photography because of my background in design, and for a while, I also dabbled in fashion styling. That’s when I got into photography. Additionally, I had an eye for certain subjects, and the practice of photography attracted me in a unique way. Working with other people was often challenging for me, so I decided to learn how to take photos on my own to share my exact vision with the world. For me, it’s more about a concept and an idea, which is at the core of my holistic approach to creativity.

How do you manage to blend art direction, fashion photography, and your work as a director?
By approaching each practice in a holistic way and considering them as one, it’s easier to navigate. I don’t think of them as separate components but rather focus on the end goal.

How do you apply Afrocentrism to fashion photography? Can it be seen as the primary vehicle for promoting messages of inclusivity and cultural appreciation?
Absolutely. The concept of Afrocentrism and photography go hand in hand, and in this context, we can also recognize fashion as an art form. Moreover, you can see how it’s all connected to a certain cultural background. There’s also another aspect that brings a bit of your history into it. Of course, it’s not what’s needed in every shot, but in some cases, it gives you a good idea of the process behind the photos I take.

How did you accept the commission for Lavazza’s calendar project?
On an ordinary day, I received an email from Lavazza’s team. I waited for a week and then decided to propose the concept of working together, of unity. Everything started from the photos that depicted the young people together on the beach. I’m a big fan of simplicity, and sometimes the most astonishing images come from the simplest ideas. These images, which centralize the theme, are, in my opinion, the most powerful because beneath all those layers, the simple idea of working as one shines through.

What are your primary sources of inspiration in photography, cinema, and fashion?
My inspiration always changes depending on where I am. Currently, I’m more interested in architecture and composition, so I’m trying to improve the way I use space. I’m studying Bauhaus, Gothic architecture, and the movement. Additionally, choreography and contemporary dance – actually, all forms of dance – are a significant source of inspiration for me. Love, the idea of being loved, losing love, and being in love also fascinates me greatly at this moment.

Daniel Obasi’s Vision of Africa in Lavazza’s New Calendar
Daniel Obasi’s Vision of Africa in Lavazza’s New Calendar
Daniel Obasi’s Vision of Africa in Lavazza’s New Calendar
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Baran’s emotional portraits

Baran’s emotional portraits Contributors · 1 month ago · Photography

Click when words fail is the name that the photographer Baran uses on social media and on her website. This phrase says a lot about her and her research. Words are often unable to return an emotion, communicate a feeling, or express it in the right terms. A photograph can do that. This happens to Mah (Baran) Mohammadasghari, a young Iranian photographer who immigrated to Canada, who begins to photograph as a therapeutic act. Her photographs, also published on Photo Vogue, are an authentic emotional and personal portrait. Her story and pain are reflected in every shot, whether it’s a self-portrait or a street photo. «I imagine my emotions and stories in a photographic way» says Baran that with her photographs she is able to convey human vulnerability and fragility.

Below each post of Baran, the photographer leaves a description always touching. A visual and narrative story of an emotion and it does so in a totally intimate and without filters. We had the pleasure of talking with her on the occasion of the exhibition Photography held last September at the Fondazione Matalon in Milan. The story that communicates with the shot on display is emblematic of her photographic research. «This shot is part of a self-portrait project called Bereavement, which I started after my mother’s death five months ago. In this photo I am with my cat, Toranj, who has been with me for 14 years.» Baran tells us, «I adopted her when I was in Iran and she also immigrated to Canada with me. We spend a lot of time together, as in this photo, especially when I don’t feel good emotionally and she understands it perfectly and is with me as much as I want.» The loss of her mother and the pain she suffered are recurring in Baran’s shots, as in my mom is back as a bird – the shot published by Vogue – which tells the moment when “she saw her mother fly away from the window“. «I saw her flying out of the window… forever… and I died… forever… It was 3 AM or 2 AM… I do not really recall… two days ago … or three … well feels like… 2 million years ago in my scattered heart…»

Scatto in mostra a Photography 2023
Visualizza questo post su Instagram

Un post condiviso da Mah (Baran) Mohammadasghari (@clickwhenwordsfail)

Courtesy Baran

Baran’s emotional portraits
Baran’s emotional portraits
Baran’s emotional portraits
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Fashion Photography According to Cindy Sherman

Fashion Photography According to Cindy Sherman

Anna Frattini · 1 month ago · Photography, Style

In Hamburg, there is an exhibition dedicated to Cindy Sherman‘s relationship with the world of fashion, titled ANTI-FASHION. The exhibition is taking place at the Falckenberg Collection, specifically at the Deichtor Hallen Internationale Kunst und Fotografie Hamburg. This exhibition traces the career and commissions of the American photographer by major brands and magazines. Chanel and Stella McCartney are just two of the brands that, along with some industry magazines, have commissioned Cindy Sherman for some of the photographs on display.

cindy sherman
 Untitled #462, 2007/2008 Private Collection Europe

The impressions created by Sherman in her photographs are far from glamorous, sexy, or elegant. Her work features subjects that are not traditionally desirable, and it certainly goes against the grain. Sherman uses fashion photography as a starting point to closely examine themes such as sex, gender, and age, demonstrating, but not limited to, these topics. Through the multitude of characters she portrays, Cindy Sherman shows us how the concept of identity is ever-changing and constantly evolving. In the accompanying critical text for the exhibition, the concept of (self-)constructed identity is discussed, which is a fluid concept that continues to challenge us even today.

cindy sherman
Untitled #602, 2019 Gilles Renaud Collection

There are numerous national and international contributions to this exhibition, the first dedicated to fashion in Cindy Sherman’s photographs. It includes 50 photographs from five decades of her career. ANTI-FASHION, curated by Alessandra Nappo, offers a unique opportunity to discover an unexpected aspect of Cindy Sherman, unveiling the influences and inspirations that the photographer has brought to the fashion world and how this influence continues to inspire entire generations of photographers.

cindy sherman
 Untitled #133, 1984 Staatsgalerie Stuttgart

The exhibition will remain open until March 3, 2024. Here you can find more informations on ANTI-FASHION.

ph. © Cindy Sherman

Fashion Photography According to Cindy Sherman
Fashion Photography According to Cindy Sherman
Fashion Photography According to Cindy Sherman
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