Earlier this week, Ben, Hudson Henry and I had a lively discussion about the concept of practice. Over the course of an hour, we talked about many things, including:
- Why people don’t generally think about ‘practice’ as something essential to photographic training (for example, unlike music, which is based around the idea of practicing);
- Learning to practice the art of ‘seeing’;
- Things we can do to get out of a rut;
- The importance of looking at the work of great photographers as part of your photographic practice; and
- How to think about practice as it pertains to your own photography.
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I recently had a discussion about printing with Jeff Carlson and Kirk McElhearn for their PhotoActive podcast. The episode, “What to Print,” covered a wide range of topics: we chatted about how I choose which photos to print, why I feel that printing is important to your growth as a photographer, and what it means to call yourself an artist. It was a fun and lively exchange (and yes, Jeff has finally bought a printer!).
As many readers know, I feel quite strongly about the power of the photographic print. It doesn’t matter if you print to your own device or upload to an online service. In this day of small screens and Instagram, Flickr and 500px, we have lost some of the tactile magic that we get in seeing our photographs on paper. There are times when I worry about what will happen to the snapshots and artistic photos we all take over the course of our lives; the digital ‘shoebox’ just doesn’t feel as real to me as the actual ones that many of us grew up with. (I wrote a piece on my personal blog a few years ago, A Life, Photographed, about why the print is such an important part of our lives.)
Ben and I have spoken with Jeff and Kirk before on PhotoActive, and I love their short, focused approach to podcasts. The episodes are only about 30 minutes in length, and they move quickly.
If you’re interested at all about printing, please give it a listen. As I noted during the episode — and in my recent post about the West photo project — I have been printing quite a bit more recently. I should have a review of the new Epson inkjets later this summer, and I am also working on a short book for CDP Press about printing, which we’re hoping to have out later this year.
Elsa Dorfman, the photographer best-known for her portraits captured with a 20×24-inch Polaroid camera, passed away this week at the age of 83. We wrote a little bit about her in our January newsletter, in reference to Errol Morris’ delightful documentary from 2017, The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography.
Living in Cambridge, Mass. (the hometown of Polaroid), Dorfman was a master of the Polaroid 20×24 large-format camera, a behemoth of which only a handful were made. Over the course of 30+ years, Dorfman photographed family members and celebrities in her studio with the large camera, usually preparing two photographs on the instant-film format: one for her and the other for her subject. Now, as supplies of the film are drying up, and with her own advancing age, Dorfman is winding her studio down. (If you’d like a deeper dive into Dorfman and her work, Harvard Magazine did an extensive feature on her, “The Portraitist,” a few years ago.)
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Rick and Ben