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Wednesday, October 24

Akcakoca, 2011

The second in a series of monthly guest posts by Turkish photographer, Omar Ozenir. Translated by Omar from a post at his website.

Akcakoca, 2011

by Omar Ozenir

Akcakoca, 2011

During the annual Akcakoca* festival, a long greasy pole is suspended over the sea and youths compete to reach the trophy at the end of it. I took the photo after the festival. The trophy’s gone, but the pole remains and a few youngsters not only continue to enjoy the challenge, but also display their skill for the photographer.

*A small town on the Black Sea coast. Pronounced Akdjakodja.

Some technical details for the curious:
35mm SLR camera. 28mm lens. Ilford Delta100 film, developed in XTOL diluted 1+1.


Whereas some photographs are sold at incredible prices, the negatives of those photos may not have any value at all. There are some obvious reasons for that. The prices are mostly raised by rich collectors and I doubt that a negative means much to them. Even if it does, there is no point in framing a negative and hanging it on a wall. Producing new prints from those negatives is also not preferred, because what collectors are usually after is the “vintage” print: that original print which has been touched and breathed on by the photographer, and which - with a bit of luck - might even bear traces of molecules of her/him.

I cite John Loengard from the preface to his book, Celebrating The Negative”: “…Sotheby’s auction house turns down negatives offered for sale. ‘There’s no market for them’, a museum curator told me bluntly. ‘Collecting negatives would be a very esoteric pursuit. It doesn’t exist’.

“When Paul Strand’s negatives were used in printing a book…they were insured for only $150 to $200. The prints Strand had made from them were insured for $150,000 to $200,000. Cornell Capa: ‘I don’t want collectors to collect negatives. They’d destroy the negative so the print they own would be more valuable’.”

On the other hand, a negative is everything for a photographer using black and white film. Even as an object, I find a negative beautiful. I think John Loengard felt similarly when, upon seeing the 8x10 negative of Edward Weston’s famous pepper photograph, he exclaimed, “I saw that light had arranged particles of silver on its surface with such beauty that it took my breath away”.

A small 14x21cm print on RC paper alongside a 20x30cm print on 30x40cm FB Ilford Galerie


jason gold said...

well said and so true!
anyway the "art" scene leaves me cold.
rich people,with no taste or sense being manipulated by art people, of questionable virtue.

Anton Xrustaleff said...

As a newcomer to this site, I've been unaware of the usual lngth of posts from this author. That is why I was slightly disappointed to see that it is that short. Yet the next second it came to me that this is a nice text - exactly beacuse it that brief. Negative IS beautiful! That is the most significant thing about it!

Jon H said...

If someone was to examine my old negs, they would literally draw closer to me, as I frequently used to rub the side of my nose with a finger and then the neg. Grease can make scratches invisible. Not too much though!


You must be an old hand, Jon. We'd better make it clear, though, that the nose grease is rubbed on the non-emulsion side of the neg! It works because the refractive index of nasal sebum is similar to that of gelatin. There's a difference of opinion as to whether you should wash the neg once you're finished printing from it. I could never be bothered and would just give the neg a wipe with a lint free cloth. This trick might not work so well for female photogaphers: the refractive index of foundation is completely different. :-)

Jon H said...

Great explanation Bruce. Yes always on the non-emulsion (shiny) side otherwise it will show up on the print. Not too much as well. Learnt from when I started out printing for the late great Fleet Street photographer Terry Fincher many years ago.


Terry Fincher was one of the true greats, wasn't he? The shot he took of Mother Theresa is a classic. It must have been a privilege getting to print from his negatives. Do you have any good stories to tell from your time working with Terry?

Jon H said...

I worked for Terry when he ran an agency called Photographers International based in an old railway station in Surrey. Beginning in the darkroom, but quickly going out on assignments. Terry was very generous sharing what he knew in the darkroom, and as a photographer. I remember once printing a portrait he had taken of the Sultan of Oman and entering it into the Ilford young printer of the year award. Few weeks later the Ilford rep turned up to basically tell me I had won, but first he had to make sure the negs were Ilford. To my surprise they were Kodak. Terry always shot Ilford, but for some reason on this ocassion shot Kodak. I was disqualified, so Terry immediately took me across the road to drown my sorrows, and his! I was with Terry for 4 years and then went Freelance and had a very successful career for about 18 years. Covers of Newsweek, Time, stories in Life magazine etc. I will always be thankful for Terry and the start he gave me. He was one of the great Fleet Street photographers, a story teller with his camera, and of course in the pub. A generous man, first to by the drinks. They don't make them like that any more.

Omar Özenir hakkında said...

Jon, great story! Makes me want to learn more about you and your work. Is there any chance to see some of it online? Or maybe figure out a way with Bruce to have it published here? ;)

By the way, have you ever met Larry Bartlett? He was one of the great Fleet Street printers and his book about B&W printing has taught me a lot.

Kind Regards

Jon H said...

Meant to say in a previous post Omar how much I love your photo of Akcakoca, 2011. Really beautiful. Enjoying your articles on this site, thanks Bruce for what you are doing here. I am intending to get a website/blog up and running soon. So much of the stories I covered were in colour, but there is some in black and white, although much has vanished!

Never new Larry Bartlett in person, but new photographers who he printed for, and they all adored him. He performed magic with their negs, some of which had been processed in the field, hotel rooms etc, so you can imagine the state of them at times. He was someone that could produce high quality very quickly.

Quite emotional looking back, as I have been out of it for so long, but somehow film and the darkroom still holds a special place for me.




If I can help in any way with your website/blog just give me a shout. It was tragic what happened with Larry Bartlett. I always meant to buy his book but never got round to it. Did he not win the Ilford Printer of the Year about four times in a row?

Mario said...

Like a photo of Ferdinando Scianna: