Working, step-by-step, through a process to achieve a goal has an important impact on the final outcome that is often overlooked. To travel from point A to point Z directly, without stopping along the way, means missing out on what points B thru Y might contribute to the end result.
In film photography, the steps required to create the final image are time consuming. Seeing the desired subject matter, I execute purposeful composition and precise exposure to translate what I experienced in the moment. However satisfaction must wait. Once in the darkroom, I can then make a simple contact print only after developing the film and waiting the interminable drying time - all necessary steps. Close examination of the contact sheet takes me back to where I was and leads to making a work print. Seeing the first print emerge in the Developer bath, I again look at the timer. The arm sweeps, 30 seconds in the stop bath, then 2 more minutes in the Fixer before the lights come on. Each step requires discipline and patience; a craft balancing science and art to obtain consistent, reproducible results in the quest for the perfect image.
Digital photography certainly provides immediate results in grabbing an image. Exposures are accurate, focus is true and everything looks pretty on screen. In fact, I find that technology makes it so easy that I can be overwhelmed by volume. At the same time I realized that, despite the volume, very few of the images were useable. To get where I wanted to be I retraced the fundamentals I learned working with film to rediscover my process.
Now my work flow begins as film or digital by seeing then photographing. Next comes scanning digital images or processing RAW files in the computer. Narrowing and flagging images with some perceived value I once again make work prints. The work prints are laid out on a table for closer examination under reflected light. From the table a smaller number images are pinned on the wall. At that point I live with the images for awhile, surveying at different times to see what communicates my vision. From the prints on the wall I can edit and print for exhibition. This process slows time once again, providing opportunities to work with an image, to see what it can become and to create the final print. Fine art takes time. -MH