Smith in the Dark

Smith considered two thousand negatives to be valid for his opus, an impossible number given his idiosyncratic printing technique. Certain prints required a few days to make, said Karales. The pair made dozens of 5 x 7 work prints for each negative, testing and experimenting until Smith was satisfied. Then they would make an 11 x 14 master print […]

“We went through a lot of [emulsion] paper,” Karales remembered, “[…] We went through boxes of paper, believe me. We bought two hundred and fifty sheets at a time. Before this, I never knew what you could do in a darkroom. At least fifty percent of the image is done in the darkroom — I think Gene would say ninety percent.

The negative has the image, but it can’t produce the image completely, as the photographer saw it — not as Gene saw it. You have to work it over and over with the enlarger, you have to burn it in, you have to hold back areas — this detail down here or over there.” from Paris Review