Photo Ninja

You know how in movies, often the demure looking librarian-type turns out to be a ninja princess in disguise? Today, I met an alt-process-photo ninja, disguised in the unassuming form of Rana Edgar, the Director of Education and Programs at the Arkansas Arts Center. Rana contacted me last week and asked if I would be interested in giving a talk at the AAC in February, while they have an Ansel Adams exhibit at the Museum. We met for coffee today to talk more about it, and after a little while Rana began to reveal her onion layers of photo know-how. It turns out that she is a tintype and liquid light guru, and received her BFA in photography before going on to complete her graduate work in art history from SCAD. We happily discussed everything from our love of the smell of darkroom chemistry to whether Gregory Crewdson should credit his crew for his photographs the way the film industry does for movies. It was the nicest conversation over coffee I have had in some time. We decided that given the line-up of speakers for “photo month” at the AAC, it would be interesting for me to discuss the alternative process possibilities and history that photography has, and how these historic techniques are experiencing an interesting revival in the era of the New Aesthetic. I am really looking forward to it.

Which is a good thing, because I am also afraid I have lost my gum printing mojo and I am about to drop kick my latest gum print into the Arkansas river. This particular print, which I really want to have complete so that I can include it in an upcoming show in Monroe, LA at the Upstairs Gallery in October, is REFUSING to cooperate. I am currently seven layers in on printing attempt number 5, my third set of digital negatives, and it still isn’t doing right. I haven’t had this much trouble with a print since I first started learning gum three years ago. And for those unfamiliar with the process, please note that it takes about an hour per layer so this sucker has MANY invested hours in it between the five attempts I’ve made to get it the way it should be. I am beginning to wonder if I should let go of this one, put it down, and do something else for a while!  Aargh!

My high-tech development bath and “drying station”  in action:


Just call me Joli Get-The-Job-Done Livaudais, kicking my home darkroom laundry style.

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