Magnum and the Dying Art of Darkroom Printing

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the literate lens

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of spending some time with Pablo Inirio, master darkroom printer at  Magnum Photos in New York. I was thinking about that interview recently as I heard the news of Kodak’s bankruptcy and pondered the precarious status of “old media” like books, film and silver gelatin prints.

As Magnum’s printer, Inirio gets to work with some of photography’s most iconic images. In his small darkroom, the prints lying casually around include Dennis Stock’s famous portrait of James Dean in Times Square (right) and a cigar-chewing Che Guevara shot by Rene Burri. Intricate squiggles and numbers are scrawled all over the prints, showing Inirio’s complex formulas for printing them. A few seconds of dodging here, some burning-in there. Will six seconds be enough to bring out some definition in the building behind Dean? Perhaps, depending on the temperature of the chemicals.

Of course, this…

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My series of Life of the Square is still progressing and I have several more ideas to work with in finishing my series. My idea has not gotten old yet and am looking forward to getting the final images ready for the completed series. My plan is to have 20 images for the final gallery.

More life

Alive at Night

This week I planned on going to the Downtown Square at night to capture a different view. Even during the weeknights, there are activities happening and people come to participate. I enjoyed making pictures with the lights coming on at dusk and after. It seems to give a new ambience and life to the Square. In the light trails you get the sense of how much traffic passes through the area. I think this gives a new depth to my project for the semester.  I’m still enjoying my project and am trying to continually look for new areas and ways to expand on my concept.


Professionalism is performing at a high level to meet or exceed expectations while doing a job without excessive self promotion or celebration. Being professional would include using a refined skill of your craft with behavior that exemplifies good character and conduct. Satisfaction comes from doing your job well without having to be in the spot light. As a photographer, I like to make the images without having to receive enormous accolades and attention while delivering a quality product.

Getting more Personal

Continuing on with my concept of the gathering place and lifeblood of the town square, I also tried to venture outside of my comfort zone a bit. While walking around “The Square”, I decided to apply some of the suggestions from our critique this week. I introduced myself to a few strangers and told them what I was doing with my photo project. I asked if they would mind if I took their photos and to my surprise, a few of them said yes. I made the images more straight on, with the subjects looking at the camera. Hopefully with more attempts at getting closer to my subjects, it will get easier. Looking to find new ways to add to my project and keep it fun is my goal. This week was a little more challenging for me but I’m positive that this challenge will be worth the effort.

Finding my Focus

Small towns have their own kind of life. Often towns are centered around a town square or gathering place. North Texas is no stranger to this type of central area in their towns, especially Denton. I grew up in a small town in Illinois, population around 20,000, so I am drawn more to the small town-ness of Denton than that of the metroplex of Dallas, even though I lived there for many years.  My vision for this project was to portray the lifeblood of these small towns, which to me center around the town squares. The architectural features are what give the square it’s foundation. The businesses and activities conducted around the square provide life and support, drawing visitors and shoppers from all around the area. At pretty much any given time there is some type of gathering taking place at the square. My intent is to capture several different towns in the close proximity of Denton, providing a variety in structures and activities that do indeed portray the life surrounding the town square.