When I got interested in design and photography in the late 80s and early 90s things were still very hands on. My first magazine job in the mid-90s still utilized Stat cameras, paste-up boards, wax, x-acto knives, and rollers. I processed a lot of B&W film in my kitchens over the years. At the same time, I liked using computers in the process in those years. But a lot more of the hands on disappeared from the day to day process than I would have liked.
I still have to mix the hands on, with the instant / digital world. Polaroid style peel-apart films, are disappearing, but I’ve got a small stash for a few old cameras I’ve got kicking around. It’s sort of like an early version of Instagram. It’s almost instant… at least by 70s and 80s standards it was. Anyway, I’ve been shooting portraits of some of the folks that come in the office. The neat thing about the peel apart film, is that the part most people peel away and discard is actually a negative, it just has a black coating on it that needs to be cleared off. So I’ve been using some alternative techniques to clear the negs (toilet bowl cleaner) and then scanning them. A couple of them are above. The top is snowboarder Brendan Gerard, shot for Yobeat, and below that is Freestylin’ editor / Lofter of Jive / Nemo Creative Director Mark Lewman.
It’s a neat process that creates a raw, somewhat varied and sometimes unpredictable aesthetic. You end up with 4×5 negatives you can scan and hold onto for years, and still get that cool little almost instant print. It has a raw look. Yes, you can create that look digitally. But it goes back to getting your hands dirty.