“In my darkroom…
…when I see that print coming in the developer, it’s as if I win the lottery” (Don McCullin)
It’s approaching the time of year when students on the Gray’s School of Art ‘short course’ on black and white film photography begin to panic and wonder if they’ll ever get a print worthy of the end-of-course exhibition. I’ve got one, thank goodness, as it takes the pressure off, but I’d like a couple more.
I had high hopes for at least one other (my ‘ice-cream buddy’ has seen an early version of it and has asked for a copy when it’s finished!), but I have just spent a frustrating hour and a half in my own darkroom and can’t seem to get it right. Nevertheless, I’m already in awe at a couple of pictures that my friends on the course will be showing so I think that bodes well for the exhibition.
This has all coincided with a documentary on the veteran photographer Don McCullin entitled ‘Looking for England’ that has just been shown on BBC 4. He’s an interesting character, albeit of his era, who is renowned for his compelling, if at times horrific, photographs of various global catastrophes and warring outbreaks.
The documentary is on the BBC iPlayer and worth catching if only to view the developing landscape of ‘Englishness’ throughout McCullin’s life from his street photography of the 50s and 60s to the modern day.
It also shows some clips of him in his darkroom, as he prefers film photography to digital:
I have a dark room, and I still process film, but digital photography can be a totally lying kind of experience; you can move anything you want… the whole thing can’t be trusted, really.
I don’t know if it’s intentional, but the programme also coincides with a retrospective of McCullin’s work at Tate Britain that runs until May (memo to self: organise that weekend away NOW!).
Here’s the limerick:
A photographer was heard to remark
That shooting with film was a lark.
‘Tis a thing that envelops,
Consumes and develops
And one that keeps you in the dark!