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Jeff Ascough

mar30

The Importance of Prints

By Jeff Ascough, miércoles marzo 30, 2016
A 24x35in print on fine-art paper and the Canon imagePROGRAF iPF6350  which we have used for several years to make our prints.

A 24x35in print on fine-art paper and the Canon imagePROGRAF iPF6350
which we have used for several years to make our prints. © Jeff Ascough

In 1989 I was in a college darkroom for my first lesson on black & white printing. I remember the smell and the row of huge enlargers – made by Durst, I think – emerging from the red gloom. It reminded me of a science fiction movie. My tutor loaded one of my negatives into the enlarger and projected the image onto the enlarger base. After focusing it with a loupe he carefully opened a packet of black & white printing paper and, almost as if he had the last piece of paper on Earth, delicately placed it onto the enlarger base. He pressed a switch on a timer and the enlarger light came on, his hands danced between the light of the enlarger and the paper, dodging and burning the image. The timer stopped, the light went out and he moved the paper into a tray of developer… it was like a beautiful magic trick. From a tiny 35mm piece of film came this extraordinary image. As a young man, this was something I hadn’t really experienced before and from that day to this, printing has been a big part of my photographic life.

I grew up in darkrooms and even though I now print in my office sat at my desk, my passion for producing high quality prints still burns as brightly now as it did back in my darkroom days. The Durst enlargers and boxes of Ilford multigrade black & white papers have been replaced by the Canon imagePROGRAF large format printers and papers from Hahnemühle, but I will always believe that an image doesn’t truly become a photograph until it is printed.

Today, printing has never been so easy and yet there are so many photographers who never see their work in print. When my wife Sarah’s grandmother died a few years ago she left a box of photographs to her Auntie. It contained her whole life in pictures, from growing up in 1930s France to her great grandchildren’s birthday parties. It is an extraordinary collection and cherished by the family. It has always been important to my us that we have prints around our home and in our office. I don’t need to go to a hard drive or phone to see pictures from a holiday in Venice or to be reminded of my daughter growing up - they are part of our environment and always will be. It is so important we hold onto this idea of having work printed.

Digital technology is so precarious. A corrupt hard drive could lay waste to years of images. Generations could grow up with their family history lost on obsolete digital media which can’t be read. The only images our children may ever see of their life is on the social media platforms at 640 pixels. We owe it to ourselves as photographers and to the generations to come to print our work – and encourage others to do so, too.

A set of eight A3 wedding prints which have just been signed and sprayed  with a protective lacquer drying in the office. These prints will end up on the  wall of my client's home so that they can be viewed and enjoyed every day.

A set of eight A3 wedding prints which have just been signed and sprayed
with a protective lacquer drying in the office. These prints will end up on the
wall of my client's home so that they can be viewed and enjoyed every day.
© Jeff Ascough

The darkroom has been replaced by Lightroom. The amount of control we have over an image is incredible. Here I am burning in the bride's veil with an adjustment brush using the red mask to accurately apply the adjustment. It is a far cry from the days of holding bits of card between the enlarger and the paper.

The darkroom has been replaced by Lightroom. The amount of control we have over an image is incredible. Here I am burning in the bride's veil with an adjustment brush using the red mask to accurately apply the adjustment. It is a far cry from the days of holding bits of card between the enlarger and the paper. © Jeff Ascough