|I'm starting to gather together some nice Leica negatives that deserve more than|
just a quick work print or scan. Leica M2, 50mm Summicron, Tmax 400.
If this question sounds a little familiar then you're probably thinking of the post I wrote here when I explored the not inconsiderable matter of finally printing a portfolio of my best shots. The idea has come to the forefront of my mind again after a very kind and generous reader said he wanted to gift me a box of 10x8 Ilford FB Warmtone paper which he bought with the intention of doing some darkroom work but then realised that there are no facilities within an easy travelling distance of his home.
He said it would be by way of a "thank you" for The Online Darkroom. Rare acts of thoughtfulness like this make blogging worthwhile. The thought occurred that this would be an excellent paper on which to start a portfolio, something I was sure I'd written about last summer.
Well, true to form, I once again underestimated my tardiness in printing a collection of photographs: it was in July, 2013, that I first broached the subject. Here I am, 20 months later, and still no portfolio. Even someone as perennially unmotivated as I am recognises that this is a bad thing.
Were I to be hit by a rogue meteorite tomorrow then my three children would have a hell of a job emerging with anything special from my darkroom after raking through packets and boxes of prints. The problem is that I tend to make work prints mainly for scanning for TOD but seldom go the whole hog and produce a "fine print" for a portfolio.
Aside from sheer inertia, a large part of that has to do with the nature of blogging. I usually post three times a week and that almost certainly precludes any pretence of a long-term view of my photographic work. I need something to write about and photographs to show so I have to think and act on a week-to-week basis.
Portfolio prints can take quite a bit longer than knocking out a work print and I often feel I simply don't have the time to put that much effort into a photograph. I suppose it's a daft way of looking at things because I certainly give it my best shot at the taking stage and I'm only selling myself short by not following through with the best possible print.
When I looked into the idea in July, 2013, I'd been thinking of something like 12x16 inch prints. My thinking now is that I'd rather print much smaller. Two of my favourite photographers are Michael Kenna and Bill Schwab and they tend to print images no more than seven or eight inches square. If it's good enough for them, etc. (Having just had a quick look at Bill's website, I see he's even printing some "holiday print offers" at 4.5"x4.5" on 10x8.)
There is also, I think, something more personal about picking up and scanning close-up a 10x8 print. It's big enough to see all the detail but also of a size where the viewer can sit back in a chair and scan it like reading a book. That's a more intimate way of viewing a print than propping a large image against the wall and looking at it more like you would a painting in a gallery.
Another source of motivation has just come by way of an email from Silverprint. The film and darkroom suppliers have now introduced a new range of reasonably-priced portfolio boxes. Here's some information about a 10x12 one which retails for £25. I think I'd rather mount my prints in 12x16 card, the portfolio box for which is £37. With good timing, for which I can only credit my mum and dad, I also happen to have a birthday coming up at the end of the month...