The Darkroom Part 2

For this installment I spoke to Martha Williams, who is the Photo Editor at Timeout Chicago and the creator of the blog Martha holds her BFA from Columbia College Chicago and has worked in the industry for 15 years. Full disclosure, she is also my wife.
1. Describe your current relationship to photography.

I am a freelance photographer and Photo Editor for Time Out Chicago. I take pictures for myself and for freelance jobs. I also hire other people to photograph a wide range of subjects- from music concerts, restaurants, models, and everything in between.

2. Have you ever made work in a darkroom before? And if so describe some important and/or memorable experiences.
Yes. I LOVED working in the darkroom. I took a black and white photography workshop in Junior High School and learned the basics of printing. Then in high school I took a photo class and learned how to develop film and make black and white prints in the darkroom. Sitting in the amber-lit darkroom, every time and image would appear in the chemical bath, it felt like magic. The alchemy of the process is very different than the digital experience. In college I worked with a large format film camera, developed my own film, and printed in both the color and black and white darkrooms. I became an expert black and white printer which still helps me today. For example: all of the basic tools in photoshop are based on tools from the darkroom like dodging and burning, layer masks, and the clone tool. Sensibilities I learned in the darkroom carry over to my work with photoshop.
3. Do you currently use a darkroom, or film as part of your practice?

I still use film on occasion, but the speed and immediacy of the digital medium makes a lot more sense for a website and magazine.

4. Is it important for darkrooms and/or analog photography to still exist today?

I think that the wonder of photography is best discovered in the darkroom. The obsequiousness of digital images has really devalued digital images. They are not seen as special anymore. Anyone can take a picture with their phone. But darkroom photography brings a person back to the magical part of photography. Also, analog photography requires students to truly learn the technical side of photography, which every student should learn. I’ve encountered interns who have made it almost all the way through school without learning some very basic principles.

Jeremy Bolen About Jeremy Bolen
JEREMY BOLEN is an artist and educator living in Chicago. He received his MFA from UIC in 2012. Bolen was included in GROUND FLOOR at the Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, in 2012 and exhibited at the UNITLED art fair in Miami, December 2012, with the Andrew Rafacz Gallery. He currently has a solo exhibition at Andrew Rafacz, Chicago. Bolen teaches at Marwen, University of Illinois at Chicago, and the School of the Art Institute Chicago.

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