We’ve been talking about this for a long time, we know it makes sense but it felt like a huge mountain to climb. Anyway, we are nearing the summit now.
The picture above is from the last wedding we shot completely on film in October 2006.
In March 2013 we opened The Alchemist’s Workshop in Grizedale Forest. It’s a gallery where we show Steven’s personal work but it’s also a traditional wet darkroom. There is a huge interest in film photography again and there is nothing quite like a beautifully made, black and white silver gelatin print. Steven has always been a black and white printer, he says it was seeing his first ever print emerge in the developer when he was an Art Student that got him hooked on photography in the first place. Steven is also an Ilford Artisan Partner there are only 11 in the world. Ilford are the leading manufacturer of black and white film and darkroom materials. They have appointed the Artisan partners (all knowledgeable and experienced photographers and printers) to teach the craft of the darkroom. Steven runs workshops at The Alchemist’s Workshop site and all of his personal work is made on Ilford black and white film and hand printed by himself.
Up until the October 2006 that was also the way we made wedding photographs. At that time it looked as though film’s days were numbered we were among the last wedding photographers to go digital. Even then though the hand made prints Steven made were special. In the decade or so before the digital revolution most wedding photographers had their films processed and machine printed by commercial labs. What Steven did then, and still does now is make black and white prints that are closer to what you would find in a gallery or museum. Steven teases the best from every negative and then processes, washes and dries them using scientifically devised archival methods so the the prints will long outlast any individual depicted. The prints are beautiful, like nothing else you will see on a computer screen or reproduced in a book.
Like thousands of other wedding photographers all over the world by 2007 we had fully embraced the digital revolution. We have a long list of very happy clients over the last 7 years who have beautiful albums of wedding photographs we made for them from digital files. We also know there are thousands of our clients who have even more beautiful albums of sumptuous black and white prints we made for them before 2007. Working in this very “hands on” craft driven way takes time, effort and very special skills. We also realise that a wedding is a once in a lifetime event that needs to be expertly recorded. We, along with lots of others, can do that using the latest technology and the result is more than acceptable to most people’s eyes. We got thinking though. We have those craft skills and the facility to carry them out, as a wedding is so very special it deserves the best possible record shouldn’t we offer a privileged few the opportunity to have the best possible presentation?
During 2014, of the 30 odd weddings we documented we offered a few the chance to have some of their pictures made on black and white film and hand printed by Steven in the darkroom. It went really well, we made some beautiful prints. In August we covered one wedding in Liverpool completely on black and white film in this way. Most couples will want some colour pictures as well and we did those digitally. It helps that there are always two of us at every wedding, back in the day Steven had to switch cameras often to make two versions of the same picture now one of us can shoot the black and white film while the other can work on colour digital.
We love the results of what we have been doing and our couples do as well. Here are a few images from the prints we made in Liverpool in August. There was also a film crew with us who documented us documenting the wedding. The film of us at work, on the wedding and in the darkroom will be put online in the coming months.
When you are looking for a wedding photographer, you may use websites like this one to help you choose. If you want your pictures recorded digitally, what you see on the site represents very fairly what you will get delivered. If you would like us to make a set of hand prints for you however, our site, these scans of the prints, only tell a tiny part of the story. If you want to see just how beautiful these really are you are going to have to make a date to meet us.