Welcome back to another entry in our new blog series on Fuji X Aus. If you have been playing along at home, then you will have seen a steady stream of blogs containing insights, opinions and experiences from a diverse and talented range of members of our very own community. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know these photographers and furthermore teasing out their personal stories and experiences. We have all taken up photography for various reasons and we all have varying skill levels. But often the best bits are the journeys we each undertake.
In this new series, I want to take a look at why many of us choose to only keep our images on digital platforms. Why don’t we print anymore? I remember the days of dropping off a spent roll of film at the local chemist and having to wait days and days for them to call to say it was ready to be picked up. And the experience of seeing how many of your 24 negatives turned out to be ok prints. I also remember being in art school and shooting, developing and processing my own film in poorly ventilated dark rooms. A mate and I even took the time to make our own darkroom in one of the bathrooms in his parent’s house. Plumbing and the ability to black out a window was essential.
But today, we obviously tend to utilise digital and social platforms to showcase our work. Granted it is cheap and quick to drop an image with some hashtags and see it off into the cloud of social media. But we don’t hold on to our best images for our own pleasure as much as I think we should. And that is a shame and a lost part of the art form. You don’t have to go to the trouble to take up a film camera and process your own images. But why not take a small step back into an analogue world and print some of your favourites. Even if you don’t frame and hang them but rather just flick through an album or collection now and then.
I have been a big fan of printing my images and often printing large sizes. Our cameras these days are power-houses that capture insane amounts of detail. Why only use that for an Instagram opportunity on a tiny screen. After returning from each of my trips from Japan I have chosen my favourite image and printed it large. From my trip there in 2017 I printed an image taken on the streets of Shinjuku. 30×40 inches with glass and a frame. And I love the feeling it gives me every-time I see it. Or any of the other printed images I have around my home. I also love the creative process and end result in making photo books. You can read more about my personal experiences with printing here. Riveting stuff.
But don’t just take my word for it. We are going to be chatting with a number of our group members about why they choose to print and how they balance that out with their social media presence. As we did last week when we spoke with the legendary Anirban Chatterjee. You can read about his journey here. There is definitely something more tangible and textural to holding a print of your work that highlights your pride far greater than a fleeting moment on social media. This time we were fortunate enough to catch up with Justin Curtis before he dashed off for a luxury escape to Fuji Island in Fiji!
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Where are you from and what is your photography background?
Born and bred in Melbourne and have travelled and lived across Australia and the World up until my current age of 55. I always had an interest in photography but the “passion” really took hold approx 7-8 years ago.
I work in the Transport Industry Monday thru Wednesday and spend the remainder of the week working, shooting and growing my part-time photography business. I shoot anything from street to fine art to portrait and landscape. However, my two loves are probably at the far ends of the scale being street and landscape. Black and white, both digital and film from 35mm through to large format, is my vice 😉
Have you ever had the opportunity to process your own films and print them in a darkroom? How did you/do you find the experience?
Processing is fun and magical when you see an image appear before your own eyes. The whole procedure from choosing the right equipment, film type, correct exposure, developing tools, darkroom time, scanning and producing a final printed image is something that must be experienced by one’s self to truly get the overall feeling of what it is all about.
In 2017/2018 I joined up with Tom and the guys at the Fox Darkrooms over in Kensington, Melbourne. I have completed the Film Processing, Darkroom Developing and Printing workshops they deliver and now produce my own works through this organization. The larger customer based works (colour and B&W) I have produced at CPL Printing in Sth Melbourne mainly on Clab and Fuji Pearl Metallic.
What are the key reasons that you choose to print your images?
There are several reasons why I print images, first and foremost, to me you do not “truly” see an image until it is sitting in front of you in print, a tangible product. Printing image “tests” allow you to analyse all aspects of what you have taken digitally or on film, this allows you to make any adjustments prior to producing the final result for either yourself or the customer. The colours or tones can look quite different than what they do on a screen with glare hence why I always print test strips prior to rolling out the final product.
What do you do with your printed images? Do you display them? Put them in a Portfolio?
Firstly I shoot for myself and display them up on the walls at home, secondly for customers and thirdly the two permanent galleries I have in Melbourne coffee shops. I have two portfolio cases I use to show potential customers of what I can produce for them, they are a great sales tool to assist with closing.
Can you tell us a little more about the works you have on display in the coffee shop?
Although working towards it I have not had an “exhibition” of sorts in a gallery but I do have agreements with two business’s in Melbourne who both asked me to hang my work in their businesses. They get premises with walls full of art and I get great exposure, so a win-win situation for both of us.
Have you ever put together a photo book and had it published? What was the process like?
I have only ever produced one book and that was from a recent trip I took to the Maldives with my wife. It is a tangible item that we can open and flip through when we feel the need to. I will produce a book of sorts on my street work but that is a little way down the track mainly due to time constraints.