The unpredictability and imperfection of analog photography at the printing stage

The unpredictability and imperfection of analog photography at the printing stage

Laura Tota · 3 weeks 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
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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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The disturbing aesthetics of waste in two iconic photographic projects

The disturbing aesthetics of waste in two iconic photographic projects

Laura Tota · 1 month ago · Photography

In the Setting agenda managing the priority of information to be conveyed through the media, the environmental issue occupies a fluctuating position, alternating moments of high media attention (especially during special anniversaries such as that dedicated to Earth Day on April 22nd) to moments of total silence. However, issues relating to climate change, pollution or waste have been urgent for too many years. In the specific case of waste, it is estimated that global waste production will increase in 2050 to 3.88 billion tonnes if the world continues on its current trajectory, when it already reached 2.24 billion tonnes in 2020 (1). The fact that this issue has always been relevant is also demonstrated by the extreme attention that the world of photography has devoted over the years to the theme, often through works with a remarkable expressive power.

Already in 2014, the photographer Gregg Segal with his iconic “7 Days of Garbage” invited each individual to take responsibility for the production of household waste through a series of shots with a strong visual impact: a totally irresponsible relationship with the waste that was made explicit by laying the responsible people on real carpets of waste produced by themselves in a single week. An exorbitant amount that no individual was aware of until they were lying on it.

Segal has recreated the backgrounds in a meticulous way, reproducing all natural scenarios such as lakes, meadows, beaches, to underline that the presence of waste does not save even the non-human contexts, rather: often pleasant and uncontaminated places become deposits of waste and waste, thus ruining entire ecosystems. The result is a total dissonance between the posed bodies, often smiling or otherwise emotionally detached from the context, and the presence of the waste of industrial production daily produced. Families, couples, single people: no one is excluded from this test of self-awareness that remains sadly topical and that makes “7 Days of Garbage” a timeless project.

The waste is also at the center of Mandy Barker’s practice, a British photographer who has made the environmental cause the red thread of her photography production, focusing mainly on plastic pollution.At first glance, her shots seem to reproduce galaxies, portions of the universe in which solitary planets orbit, but the investigation has a completely different object: on closer inspection, all the compositions consist of thousands of debris that the artist has collected along the coasts of the world to denounce the current global crisis of marine pollution by plastic.

Among the others, her work “Every… snowflake is different” consists of a composition plastic elements recovered from the shoreline of the Spurn Point Nature Reserve in the UK and that include margarine jars, medicine packaging, coat hangers, lollipops, caps, trays, pans and much more.Again, the contradiction between the wonderful aesthetics of these scraps and the resulting ecological disaster aims to invite the viewer to become more aware and active in the production and management of waste: to achieve this goal, Mandy works closely with scientists and biologists so that her shots are supported by scientific data that can stimulate a real change in the viewer.

The disturbing aesthetics of waste in two iconic photographic projects
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The disturbing aesthetics of waste in two iconic photographic projects
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How do you read a photographer’s portfolio?

How do you read a photographer’s portfolio?

Laura Tota · 1 month ago · Photography

Having one’s work evaluated and read by an insider is always a decisive moment in the growth path of a photographer: it is like handing over one’s child to the world or, even better, laying bare and letting someone express his or her assessment of something to which one has devoted a lot of time, passion and effort and which one is convinced no one will be able to fully understand. Yet, facing the world, stepping out of one’s “comfort zone” and confronting an outside eye, is only the beginning of one of the most important challenges: that of approaching one’s work in a professional and conscious way.
We asked Claudio Composti, one of the most in-demand Folio Reviewers in Italy, to give us some tips on how to handle the phase before, during and after the portfolio reading takes place.

© AURORE GRINDL

Claudio Composti lives and works in Milan. He is founder and art director of mc2gallery and Art Advisor of private collections and independent curator of exhibitions in institutional, gallery or private spaces.
For years he has been Folio Reviewer for the most important Italian and international Photography Festivals and is Guest Professor at Leica Akademie and Raffles Milano, Institute of Fashion Design and Photography, for the Master of Photography. Since 2023 he has been director of the Ragusa Foto Festival in Ibla – Ragusa and artistic director of White Carrara.

Portfolio readings provide a time for a professional in the world of photography (e.g., a photographer, photo editor, gallery owner, or critic) to discuss a photographer’s work. Why should photographers, especially emerging ones, choose to have their portfolios read?

The portfolio reading is an essential time for photographers both to present their work and to meet with curators, photo editors, or collectors who can correct their aim and give some pointers and suggestions to improve their work. Confrontation-constructive and intelligent-is always good when it is there, but you have to know how to handle it and how to accept it. This, too, is part of an artist’s training.

A photographer’s greatest anxiety is probably the preparatory one in which you need to put your production in order and then submit it to the gaze of a professional. So can you tell us how you prepare and present a portfolio?

Usually portfolio readings take place at festivals and so time is limited, usually you have about 20 minutes: knowing how to present your work clearly and concisely is therefore crucial. And presenting it as well as possible-assuming there is something to discuss-is already a very good calling card. The experienced eye does not miss the quality of the materials chosen for printing and how a portfolio is presented. Better to present not too many nor too few photos. Sometimes, even a book that has already been published can be very helpful in giving an idea of one’s work, or a mock-up of a book in fieri can help to get a sense of goals and visions. I would say that the key thing is never to inundate with randomly chosen images or, for example, those belonging to several projects and presented in different formats: presenting a single concept or project-though incomplete-is always better than providing many incomplete cues.

Claudio Composti | Collater.al

After reading one thinks that everything is concluded, that it is only necessary, perhaps, to listen to the suggestions received and apply them to one’s own work. But this is actually not the case: what should a photographer constantly do to see his or her work grow?

Keep working, see exhibitions, compare with other artists. See See See: films, exhibitions, read books and feed on anything that will feed visual and imaginative culture. And then seek out both portfolio readers and galleries that may have an interest in one’s work. There is no point in approaching those who do anything else; it means not having self-awareness and what you want and do.

When approaching a portfolio reading, one must start with the awareness that one may also receive strong opinions or otherwise capable of shaking the author’s certainties. In other cases, however, the portfolio reading can confirm the validity of the path taken. What advice do you feel like giving photographers to keep in touch with reviewers? What to take home from the positive/negative judgment received?

Definitely, if the review is positive, you should try to maintain contact and hope that it will result in a collaboration of some kind. In truth, I assure you that if the artist is interesting to the reader, he or she will be the one to make sure that relationships are maintained: in this sense, the interest in contact is mutual. Should the reading have a negative outcome, it would be good to focus on what was not appreciated. First of all, it is necessary to understand and accept constructive criticism, but without giving in to judgment: remember, however, that every opinion can also be subjective. The line between objective and personal judgment is always very difficult to identify, both for the giver and the receiver. In exchange we always grow in two.

Claudio Composti | Collater.al
© PATRICIO REIG
How do you read a photographer’s portfolio?
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How do you read a photographer’s portfolio?
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10 Liquida Grant photographers to discover

10 Liquida Grant photographers to discover

Giorgia Massari · 1 month ago · Photography

Liquida photofestival returns to Turin with its second edition curated by Laura Tota and included in the frame of Paratissima. From May 4 to 7, 2023, photographs selected from the open call will animate the halls of the Cavallerizza Reale with the aim of spreading hope, beauty, sharing, coexistence, resilience and love, in accordance with the theme “Better Days Will Come.” The festival will be divided into three sections: the Exhibition area will welcome the best photographic projects, while the Grant section will host the ten shots selected by the jury and, finally, the EdiTable area will be dedicated to publishing.
While waiting for the festival to start, let’s find out the ten Grant winning photographers with their shots.

Liquida Photofestival | Collater.al

#1 Alvaro Gómez Pidal – A ladder in front of the Ministry in Moscow. An accidental allegory full of meanings of things that were to come.
Alvaro Gómez Pidal is a Spanish photographer, artist and filmmaker, born in Madrid in 1989. Pidal understands photography as a simple reaction to life; he himself, quoting Jonas Mekas, says “I film because I live, and I live because I film.”

Liquida photofestival | Collater.al

#2 Chiara Benzi – Capri
Chiara Benzi is a photographer from Bologna who focuses her practice on the physical and digital manipulation of her photographs. To an image that is quintessentially a reflection of reality, she applies an alteration that borders on alienation. The photograph “Capri” evokes a rock that looks like a glacier but, at the same time, the title refers to a maritime and summer scenario.

Liquida photofestival | Collater.al

#3 Ernesto Sumarkho – Emilia
Ernesto Sumarkho is a Venezuelan-born Art Director and photographer who uses a conceptual approach to photography to explore themes about nature, people, identity, and how they interact with each other. In “Emilia” he draws inspiration from magic realism to explore the boundaries between reality and fantasy.

Liquida photofestival | Collater.al

#4 Pasquale Farinelli – Fiore mio
Pasquale Farinelli is a self-taught photographer, born in 1986. Through photography he explores environments, observes objects and investigates people, paying special attention to those sclerotic and obsessive attitudes that characterize our everyday life. The approach is that of a curious voyeur who emphasizes details in an almost fetishistic way.

Liquida photofestival | Collater.al

#5 Alessandro Truffa – Fuoco contro Fuoco
Alessandro Truffa was born in Turin in 1996 and attended ISIA in Urbino, exploring the editorial restitution of the image. He recently published “Fuoco contro Fuoco,” his first photobook focused on an ancient ritual used to cure St. Anthony’s fire and based on the principle of analogy and the use of natural elements.

Liquida photofestival | Collater.al

#6 Elena Costa – Inverno
Elena Costa was born in 1997 in Moncalieri. The photographer searches for the natural essence of things, with the awareness that nothing remains, that everything is ephemeral and in continuous becoming. For this reason, her photography has an emotional approach that she highlights through the use of film and light.

Liquida photofestival | Collater.al

#7 Vito Lauciello – True white horse
Vito Lauciello has been pursuing his passion for photography since childhood, developing a strong passion for analog photography. His portrait projects start from the subject: he gets inspired by it and develops an empathic relationship that allows him to build the project through a combination of character and feelings. In the case of “True white horse,” the photographer focuses on the detail of the eye, evoking with a single element the entire subject: the horse.

Liquida photofestival | Collater.al

#8 Erica Bardi – Untitled
Erica Bardi was born in Naples in 1998. She graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts of Brera and later attended the Cfp Bauer. An autobiographical component is evident within her photographic research. It emerges from memories, evoked by places and subjects. Through photography, Bardi intends to combine motherhood with an intimate and personal sphere, through an unrealistic dimension.

Liquida photofestival | Collater.al

#9 Blanka Urbane – Untitled 04
Polish but Austrian adopted photographer Blanka Urbanek lives and works in Vienna. Her approach to photography is realistic and natural. Sometimes she is part of the photographic staging while at other times she is just an observer. She herself sees her work as melancholy poetry.

Liquida photofestival | Collater.al

#10 Lucrezia Testa Iannilli – Untitled, from the series New Humans, New Gods.
Lucrezia Testa Iannilli was born in Rome in 1977 and is a photographer and performer who works with cross-disciplinary investigations, researching the weaknesses and criticalities of the art sector, with a focus on the relational sphere. Through open air, site-specific photographic installations and performance cycles using the human and animal body, Lucrezia In her research practices she intervenes with open air, site-specific photographic installations and performance cycles in decontextualized spaces, using the human and animal body.

Liquida photofestival | Collater.al

Find out about talks, meetings and more information about the various sections at the Liquida photofestival website.

10 Liquida Grant photographers to discover
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10 Liquida Grant photographers to discover
10 Liquida Grant photographers to discover
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“Paterfamilias”: the unsafe refuge evoked by Ada Marino

“Paterfamilias”: the unsafe refuge evoked by Ada Marino

Giorgia Massari · 1 month ago · Photography

Visual artist Ada Marino, Italian but based in Wales, works by combining installation and photography, seeking a visual transposition of traumas buried in the past. Her works, often in black and white, conceal an agony, suffering and sense of helplessness that manifest themselves in a form of cynical surrealism. The images that Ada Marino evokes belong to her personal experience and, more generally, those of women, focusing on gender issues.
The project “Paterfamilias” is autobiographical and therefore particularly charged with pathos. The artist investigates the phenomenon of patriarchy circumscribed to the domestic sphere, drawing from her past family traumas. In fact, Ada Marino dedicates the project to her grandmother, abused and denigrated by an authoritarian husband.

To my grandmother who was abused and denigrated by an authoritarian husband. To her that when she was not beaten was impregnated, as sign of ‘love’ and punishment and often beaten while she was expecting, as sign of correction and discipline.” wrote Ada.

Ada Marino | Collater.al
Selected photograph for Liquida photofestival

“Paterfamilias” visually describes a suffocating and toxic environment. A place where home is no longer a safe haven but the scene of violence and denigration. A place where man dominates every choice and marks time. Ada Marino, although not making the violence explicit through images, is able to evoke it with specific gestures, positions or behaviors. A man’s hand grips a woman’s hair; in another shot he forcefully holds a bird, preventing it from breathing. Broken dishes are stowed a sideboard, milk overflows from a glass. The man, shielded by a newspaper, pierces it with his arm in order to eat. Still two legs are seen floating in the air in a bathroom, a woman is hanging, evoking suicide. Fragments of life that every woman is able to perceive as dangerous. Symbols that in their apparent simplicity carry with them the sense of oppression that continues to linger to this day, highlighting how today’s society itself fails to eradicate patriarchy, despite many words and hard efforts.

Ada Marino is able to convey disquiet where there might not be any, as in the case of overflowing milk, managing to strike at those universally dramatic gestures. Marino’s photographs conceptualize the effect of repulsion/attraction, reevaluating the very concept of ugliness.

Ada Marino’s work is featured in the selection of the Liquida Photofestival in Turin 2023.

“Paterfamilias”: the unsafe refuge evoked by Ada Marino
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“Paterfamilias”: the unsafe refuge evoked by Ada Marino
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