Becoming a Real Photographer

Photograph of Fujifilm XM1 digital camera by Norman Young

They used to say that you weren’t a real photographer until you developed your own prints.

It’s true. There is no feeling quite like watching your own image reveal itself in the developing dish before your (red) eyes.

In my youth I mixed the chemicals to the required strength and developed B&W prints in my own darkroom. I also processed coloured slides but that was all contained in a tank, so it wasn’t as satisfying. Eventually, volume & limited time drove me to pay labs to produce my work, so the darkroom experience is a distant memory now.

That ‘magical’ darkroom experience is something that may be unknown to many in the digital era.

However, I did have a somewhat similar feeling when I watched my first print on a quality art paper, slowly emerge from my own, new A2 printer recently. Over the years I’ve had many prints professionally made by labs, both from film and digital. It’s great to see images printed on quality mediums, but it’s not quite like making your own.

Also, could there be a danger that something is lost when everything digital is contained, consumed or shared via a PC, tablet or LCD screen?

I’ve still got my developing dishes, but doubt I would go back to that or to mixing chemicals.

There is still a buzz to be had from printing your own work. Photobooks can look great too, but there is something about a big print. Go big.