Last semester’s exploration of alternative photographic processes opened an entire new realm of photography to me. I found the mix of old processes with modern day technologies completely appealing. The ability to work with my digital images in conjunction with a hands on printing process is the perfect mixture for me. I love the quick convenience of shooting digitally combined with the more time consuming process of making hand coated prints. It makes the time consuming part of the process an act of physical creating verse sitting in front of my computer digitally creating.
We explored a lot of processes (Ziatypes, Cyanotypes, Gum Printing, VanDyke Browns, and more…) and while I did not have a clear favorite (I typically have a hard time picking a favorite anything!!), I have decided to work with a combination of cyanotype and gum prints this entire semester. I chose this combo because the combined layers of cyanotype and gum work well together, and I really enjoyed both processes and working so specifically with color. I am not a painter, but the gum process enables me to work directly with pigments (watercolor and gouache). Each layer of your gum print is a specific color and once the layers become one through the re-registration of multiple prints they create a color image. Gum Printing was the earliest process used for color photographs.
I find the long history of the process intriguing and I enjoy the mysterious, painterly quality that it can lend to images. I especially like the combination of the process with nature-type imagery. I do not have the skills to go out and paint a copse of trees, but I can photograph them and see what I can create through a gum print! Last semester while perusing the text for my alt. photo class (Jill Enfield’s to Photographic Alternative Processes) I was immediately drawn to a rich, colorful, woody scenic nature image. The image was a gum print by Brian Taylor. Taylor starts with a cyanotype layer, he then uses a layer of green gouache, followed by a warm brown, and a final black layer. The images all share a rich, warm tonal value and make me want to jump in them and bask in each environment. Here are a few from his series, ‘The Art of Getting Lost.’
The endless amount of ways to mix and layer color in this printing process lends a constant feeling of discovery. Sure, you can get your process down to a science so that your prints share a consistency, but there is always the ability to easily experiment. Also, happy accidents of the uncontrolled parts of the printing process are always a possibility. So, I am looking forward to a little experimenting, which will hopefully lead down a path of tactile creation with a final result of my imagery developed into one of a kind prints!