The Savannah College of Art and Design Interview
A research paper interview by Kaitlyn Buzzetti
Kaitlyn Buzzetti, a Senior student majoring in Photography from Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia, USA, approached me for an interview about the Silver Gelatin process. Kaitlyn has a deep passion for making quality prints, and wanted to learn more about this engaging process. Moreover, she has chosen this as the subject of her research paper. According to her, "I feel that it would really tie everything together if I included an interview with a contemporary artist to show the silver gelatin process' use in today's art."
She will be graduating June of 2017 and plans to pursue her passion in the printing world.
Kaitlyn Buzzetti: With all that you are involved in why do you choose to print your personal work through the Silver Gelatin process instead of digitally?
MM: To make the most of my photos, I match carefully each negative and paper I print on. It is a creative choice, to be honest. I fell in love with the luxuriously rich print that Silver Gelatin delivers. It is highly responsive to retouching and chemical reduction. And, with proper toning, this photographic paper will last for centuries. It, quite simply, delivers a final quality print unlike anything else you can use in the darkroom, which is why it is far superior than digital printing. Of course, this is a personal judgement.
KB: What value do you see in Silver Gelatin printing? Both metaphysically, and the business aspect (if any).
MM: One of the attractions of darkroom printing is that you can watch the print all the way through the processing sequence. In particular, you can assess the image as it appears in the developing bath and control development accordingly.
At the moment, I believe, there is no high demand as far as the business aspect of it is concerned. Nonetheless, the value of a photograph printed on Silver Gelatin can increase because it is painstakingly printed by hand. Printing in the darkroom can be laborious at times.
KB: I notice a lot of your photographic work has to do with the community and people you are surrounded by. By your shooting alone, you show a strong sense of care, compassion, and consciousness. Do you think that printing in Silver Gelatin helps translating that into a physical presence?
MM: Yes, that is correct, I shoot alone all the time. I am not a fan of photo walks with a group. I do not think I would be able to focus on what I am supposed to be doing, to be honest with you. It is important for me to talk to the people I take photos of, and connect with them. It is rather beneficial for me working alone.
Aesthetically speaking, yes it does help. It consistently produce superior quality expected from a Silver Gelatin paper, and its versatility and response to darkroom techniques never fails to please me.
KB: How do you think this process helps translate/transcend your work? Do you think there is any other process that would do it better?
MM: I am quite comfortable with this process. I am strict in maintaining a consistent look and feel in all of my photographs. Personally, I do not think there is a ‘better’ way to print them.
However, before you try to experiment with alternative processing routines, be sure you can achieve consistent results with the standard routine. This process has led the field for many years and has long been regarded as the first choice of photographers, both beginners and advance. On the other hand, it would depend on the photographer’s approach on how he/she wants to showcase his/her works. After all, printing on silver gelatin works for me but may not necessarily work for someone who is comfortable with other process. It is a case to case basis, in my opinion.
KB: What is it that makes you keep printing traditionally all the while most of the photographic world is changing to digital medium.
MM: I would confidently admit that it is the purist in me that motivates and compels me to keep doing what I love doing. I derive pleasure in its slow, disciplined, and meditative process. It is calming. It is zen-like.
Although, I do not reject digital technology— in fact I support it, I just do not find that calming feel in it.
KB: Do you think that this is a dying craft?
MM: It is clearly far from being dead. Supporters and enthusiasts are growing, at least, here in Singapore where I am based and from my native country, The Philippines. Many of my digital-native friends are getting curious about it and want to experience the process.
It will always be a vital part of the creation of a photograph.
About Kaitlyn Buzzetti:
Kaitlyn Buzzetti was born in Brooklyn, New York and traveled to Savannah, GA at the age of eighteen to pursue a photographic degree from Savannah College of Art and Design. In addition to Brooklyn and Savannah, She has also lived in New York's Hudson Valley, and spent some time abroad, studying in Lacoste, France.