This isn’t the first image I ever printed in the darkroom using an enlarger – but it is the first I’ve felt comfortable sharing. I feel like I’ve learned a lot about film development and printing over the last few weeks, and while I have plenty more to learn, it’s time to start sharing images with you.
I like the idea of posting these images as scanned prints, rather than as scanned and edited negatives. There are two reasons for this. The first is that it allows me to do my post-processing in the darkroom, the old-fashioned way. I never did edit my images too much in Lightroom, but this restricts me even more, and forces me to take the time to hand-craft each print. I’m still learning about analogue printing, but I have tried my hand at dodging and burning prints, which is far more difficult under an enlarger than in Lightroom. Each print, even if it’s from the same frame, and I edit it in the same way, will be unique, and I find that thought beautiful.
The second is that it allows me to see images not as abstract concepts or files on a hard drive, but as physical objects that I can hold in my hands. Negatives, of course, are also physical, but as soon as you scan and edit them I feel like that fades. There is nothing wrong with that, and I would never tell anyone how to create their art, but this is my preference. To me photographs should be physical, like paintings or sculptures. Even with my digital work I try to print as often as I can, but getting professionally-made prints at a lab is expensive, and it makes me feel more abstracted from the process. When I print in the darkroom, I’m seeing my images through to the very end, like photographic children.