I might be dating myself when sharing my love for developing film & hand printing photographs in a darkroom, but my love for photography happened during my very first attempt at printing my own work.
The art of photography goes beyond the act of taking the photographs, there is an absolute art to developing film and creating handprinted photographs. While much of the film world has transitioned into the digital marketplace, there are still plenty of photographers who breathe life back into the film world; understanding the way film and light works to push or pull the film depending on the situation, dodging and burning prints by hand that are either a success or failure.
Unless you are in the photography industry pre-digital or have developed (pun not intended) a love for film photography much of this might seem like an unknown language.
Way before online proofing galleries, phones with cameras, Instagram with their (icky) filters - photographers would use contact sheets as a visual method for reviewing their work.
Print negatives would be processed and rather than the costly expense of printing each photograph a contact sheet would be produced. The process was both timely and expensive, yet so worth it.
Following the processing of print negatives (In my case, always black and white) the negatives would be sleeved in plastic protectors and placed on top of photographic paper. A thin piece of glass would lay over the negatives to remove any air or lift between the plastic and paper. With a quick flip of a switch the negatives were exposed onto the photographic paper and then sent through the chemical developing process.
In the end, you'd have an 8x10 sheet of paper with four or five rows of thumbnails to choose from.
Sadly, digital has taken away some of the fun. In the darkroom you could easily lose track of time printing your photographs; watching the portrait appear in the developer, tweaking the exposure, and spending time on the final presentation of mounting, matting, and framing.
Yes, I am without a doubt romanticizing the darkroom printing process because it was one place I could tune out the rest of the world and be.
Today, as photographers, digital has afforded up far too many luxuries (the ability to overshoot, instant gratification, setting it & forgetting it with camera settings, and the "fix it in photoshop" attitude - which, I'll admit, I am guilty of.
In late 2019, I have reintroduced the idea of creating contact sheets as a way to preserve, share, and print a collection of work from recent photoshoots in a way I haven't done so before. My goal is to not only create these contact sheets for my studio journal but also provide my clients with a unique piece of wall art for their home or office.
This collection of photographs is from the Macy Preis x Usurper Photoshoot. 16x24 in size and would compliment Macy's office/studio or a digital piece to be used for marketing.
Boudoir or Glamour Contact Sheet
Another unique way to display portraits is to create a contact sheet print to hang in your bedroom or walk-in closet. Imagine this daily boost of inspiration and motivation when looking back at your photoshoot yo remind you of your confidence, strength, and beauty!