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Thursday, July 24

Analogue Archives: Larry Bartlett Feature

Behind every great photographer there's usually a fantastic printer. Thus begins this 1983 article about Larry Bartlett, a printer who achieved some fame in UK photography circles and probably beyond in his own right. Larry died in 1995 aged just 43 - I read years ago that he took his own life but can't seem to find confirmation of this on the web.

He was John Downing's darkroom master and, in my opinion, Larry did as much as the photographer to produce John's award-winning photographs. Larry's talent earned him the Ilford Printer of the Year title on three occasions and he authored a highly-regarded book, The Black-and-White Photographic Printing Workshop, that is still in print.

There's an Independent obituary of Larry here but I prefer to concentrate on the printer in his prime with this December, 1983, feature from 35mm Photography.


Doug H said...

Robin Bell's book and video of same name ("Silver Footprint") demonstrates the importance of a good printer. Another example is that Peter Turnley even had his digital files converted to film so that his favorite printer could create silver gelatin prints. And I understand the resulting prints were co-signed.
As the terms "Photography" and "Photographer" gets subsumed into the digital world, the printer will become more recognized as a creative person in his own right, I hope.

Omar Özenir said...

"One day I read a book and my whole life changed". That's the opening line of an Orhan Pamuk novel.

In my early darkroom days - the dark ages, so to speak - it was the Bartlett book that really boosted my printing skills and showed me the range of a sense it changed my life.

The book is full of valuable information as well we quite a few superb pictures by John Downing.

Thanks a lot for these scans, Bruce!

David M said...

I've been enjoying the Larry Bartlett print of the dear departed Brighton Pier. Larry's description of how he printed it doesn't mention what seems to me to be his most significant decision: to crop the left-hand edge.
One benefit of viewing on screen is that you can scroll the image past the edge of the screen to experiment with cropping. There are several other potential images in this shot if you care to try.
Cropping gets a bad name among photographers, partly, I think because of a belief that H C-B never cropped. Seeing some real H C-B prints will prove this wrong, although for small negs, and particularly for older films, it can be a valuable discipline.
On the other hand, it's a bit optimistic to expect the world to arrange itself to fit whatever assembly of metal and glass you happen to be holding at the time.
And I did wonder what would be our attitude today, to the manipulation of the composite train crash print. Surely, despite our admiration for the craft involved, it would never be published as a "news" picture in these Photoshop-aware days?

Anonymous said...

That fact is true, Larry Bartlett sadly took his own life sometime in the late 90's I think.

Talented Printer I have his book somewhere in my collection.