April 11, 2008

A Paper Negative...

Music | If I was Beautiful by Joydrop

When I was at Loop Junior College in Chicago, I discovered in the window of a large gallery on Michigan Ave. a few beautiful photographs being displayed. I went in hoping to find more of the photographs and was told to check the 2nd floor. There were 2 rooms upstairs, the large one filled with oppulent furniture, lots of deep red theatre drapes and columns. Off to the side was another room, with the same huge windows that graced the rest of the space. Upon entering that room, there were at least 20 8x10 portraits hanging on the walls, faces that had character, that told stories if you looked long enough. In the center of the room, at the far end sat this beautiful piece of art made of wood, that stood upon a wooden stand. It was obvious, like most of the other things in the gallery, this piece was very old, but stood the test of time because it was created by craftsman. The 8x10 inch camera sat there like it was in a throne. A piece of black velvet laid behind it. Out of the large room came a man who introduced himself as the artist who photographed those portraits, right there in the room I stood.

Over 25 years later, I remember a lot about my visits with this photographer. It was a time in my life where I was a sponge to learn as much about photography I could. One of the interesting techniques he used was to use paper negatives in his film holders. To this day, I can vividly remember the Impressionistic style, but the intensity of the faces he photographed.

Years later, I found myself with an old 8x10 wooden camera, from as early as the 1940's. It was quite similar to that photographers camera that I met years prior. My first exposure with that camera was with a paper negative. This portrait could in fact be that first one.

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