Kevin Bjorke
Kevin Bjorke
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110-format slides (C)2005 K Bjorke

We had the first session of Photography Made Difficult at Coffee Society tonight — it was a bit noisy and certainly crowded but quieter than the “Open Mic Night” over at Barefoot. The PMD group was small as expected: myself, Allan Chen, Pieris, and David Lee. Which was good — more than one or two additions and it would have been all the tougher to talk to everyone. And everyone brought prints!

Okay, I admit: part of the time we talked about equipment (mostly printers). But not abstractly — always in a “I used Xxx to make this print” context, which is exactly right.

David totally smoked us on presentation, not only with a slender book full of beautifully detailed “Super B” sized prints, but also with a collection of 6x6 stereo slides (with handmade wooden viewer) and stereo cards (with another handmade viewer). In his large prints, the backfrop of sand and streaming dunes really seemed just a backdrop against which he was painting tones by burning and dodging. In the strongest of those, the sand gave way to organic, even erotic forms (like this).

Pieris’s prints were focused on technical issues for B&W, he’s been rigorously developing a personal workflow, with a goal of enlarging a collection of old “found” (?) snapshots to gallery-hangable sizes — a good illustration of the polysemous nature of photography. The snap he showed was intruiging, but it’s unlikely the intention of the sitters or photographer was to be part of a politically-redacted collection some 90 years later. I’m looking forward to seeing the “Real” prints from this series as they get chosen and Pieris prints them.

Allan’s prints were from his office, different experiments in tone and inkjet printing, sometimes from what would have been unprintable negatives if not for the power of computer sweetening. One of them had just been announced as a nationwide college-photo finalist — good luck!

As for myself, I brought a book along of recent QTR prints, mostly images shot within the past four months that I haven’t used here on Photorant, and rounded-up or printed over the past couple of days. There is a curious dynamic that occurs: once a photo has been printed, once it’s a detailed physical object, I find it hard to think of it as a web pic. It’s as if the photo has graduated, or perhaps escaped.

What’s great is to see people working at photos as photos, not confusing equipment with pictures (no one confuses stereo gear with music, do they?) and working specifically at their ideas. I’m looking forward to the next installment.

Recommended reading for all: Signs and Relics by Sylvia Plachy.

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