Pathos & DelightFriday, April 23, 2010
Originally I had the plan to install a secondary stereo stystem but I never went past a portable transistor radio. Through he years in our Athlone Street home, plumbing problems have tended to bring in unwanted water into my darkroom. It has been dry now for a while but every time I go into it (a rare occasion now) I feel the pangs of nostalgia for the days when I would rush down to print a particular negative I was excited about.
I have had a request for some prints of writer Paul St Pierre (a subject of mine some years ago)who called from Langley for a print. Someone else wants prints of writer Elizabeth Smart and architect Arthur Erickson. It is inevitable that I will have to spruce up (vacuum perhaps?) my darkroom today and print those pictures. As they say these days, money is money even if it isn’t all that much.
My friend Les Wiseman in Victoria has been selling Vancouver punk memorabilia of late and wants me to make an album of pictures of such bands as the Dishrags, the Subhumans, DOA, etc. I wonder if it is worth it to make prints. Few nowadays understand the difference between a photograph printed from a negative on to real and archival photographic paper as opposed to a print churned out by a desk top inkjet printer. Are they willing to pay that much more? I remember that in the 80s I would get phone requests for an 8x10 glossy and I knew that the minimum price I could charge was $50. In some cases I could get away with more. Now when I mention $75 or $100 I never get a call back or a return email. Folks now want to pay $20!
A darkroom with a bottle of Scotch, some good music and a good negative is all American photographer W. Eugene Smith needed to keep him going through the night. In my good years I always replaced that Scotch with a mug of strong tea. I am hoping that this weekend I can feel again that excitement and thrill of bringing to a graphic and tactile reality the idea that resulted from the pressing of the shutter and the magical concept of that virtual image embedded in that undeveloped negative that would see the light of day for a second time.
As I think of this and the emotions that I feel I look behind me as I sit on what is now my virtual darkroom (my Edwardian desk with the computer and the Epson scanner by the side. Behind me is a pair of little black shoes. Lauren brought them a couple of weeks . There are some dresses beside the shoes. They are hand-me-downs from not only her older sister but even a few from her mother Hilary when she was the same age, 7.
I look at the little shoes and I am consumed with a pathos tinged with the delight that I will see Lauren and Rebecca tomorrow Saturday. I have tried to interest Rebecca in my darkroom work. She is repelled by the smell of fixer. To me the acrid acid smell is perfume to memories of my past.
Lauren has become a willing subject for my camera and often wants to get on a chair to look through my big camera as it sits on its tripod.
I wonder what the future will bring to her and will she someday look at my desk and see a desk but look at my library table and see a darkroom. Time will tell while I delight in the sight of the little black shoes.