Painting’s greats: Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Rembrant, & Bob Ross. Now stay with me. While Bob Ross doesn’t have anything hanging in a prestigious museum, he did something extraordinary with his “Joy of Painting” TV show: He peeled back the veil that often separates the viewer from the process. Although the process of every artist is different, his program helped many (myself included) better understand the work and skill which goes into creating a painting. This understanding helps me appreciate the works of art displayed in museums I frequent, allowing me to cock my head to the side, rest my and under my chin, and ponder the intent of the artist in a sophisticated manner.
BUT..here’s where things bet interesting. When I go to these big, fancy museums, alongside the paintings, sculptures, and dinosaur bones, there are often photography galleries. While I have always been able to appreciate the work that went into capturing an image, in the instance of film photography, I never fully appreciated the labor (i.e. scanning, editing, printing, framing) and money that went into transforming the capture into a work of art. This is one instance where I feel digital photography has taken a step back (or forward, depending on your stance). The hands-on aspect of the aforementioned "labor" is very different when you compare film to digital, with digital being, in my opinion, less labor-intensive...easier. One would think this lowered barrier to entry in the digital realm would result in more printing, more framing, more pride in one's work, HOWEVER, all it has created is more photographers. The creating of more photographers isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it has created a new consumer base which remains content with their digital images living their entire lives in a digital environment. A consumer who rarely allows their work to manifest itself physically through prints. Once again, this is my opinion and to be honest, less than a year ago, this was me. Lot's of great images lived and died on my cell phone.
Now that my rant is over, let's move our attention to the process of transforming a negative, into a work of art. Several months ago, as I was just getting back into film photography, I stumbled across a video by Nick Carver, who is one of the coolest dudes in film photography. In this video, he begins with a negative and finishes with a 2 foot x 6 foot work of art. It's impressive. Similar to Bob Ross (minus the fro and beard), Nick (plus rolled up sleeves and slicked back hair) does a great job of showing the viewer the magic behind creating a film photography masterpiece. Enjoy.