A little back story to start – when I first started learning photography, I had no intention of running a photography business. It was my hobby, my passion. I fell in love with the magic of the darkroom. Digital photography held no appeal to me and even when I did start my business 12+ years ago, I stuck with film for several years. And by the time I finally gave into digital, I’d already left the darkroom for the most part – running a business was taking up a lot of time and I no longer luxury of spending hours leisurely working on a single image until it was perfect. As time passed and life got even busier, the darkroom seemed further away than ever. Luckily, I met some like-minded folks and I fell in love with alternative printing processes. I talked a bit about this on this blog a few years back here and how I fell in love with with salted paper printing in particular.
This month I had an amazing opportunity to share what I have learned about salted paper printing with fellow photographers at Inspire Photo Retreats in Portland, Maine. (In anticipation of Inspire, I wrote a blog post that appeared on the Inspire Blog and I was interviewed by Seshu for Tiffinbox. And I did a test run and taught my class to a few DC photographers for the January meeting of DC FStop, a group for professional photographers in the DC area that I co-lead). I will be honest – heading to Portland, I was nervous. I was co-teaching the class with a photographer who I’d only briefly chatted with on the phone – Sarah Dugan would teach cyanotype printing while I would teach salted paper printing. And I wasn’t sure how it would be teaching fellow photographers something that I mostly did in my kitchen alone.
It turned out that Sarah is an amazing person, photographer, and teacher and within minutes it was as if we’d been friends and worked together for years. And my “students” were excited and engaged and seeking the same things that I’d been seeking when I started exploring alternative print processes several years ago: to reclaim that part of photography that we fell head over heels in love with. There is something different that happens when you get away from the computer, when you get your hands dirty and you take hours to craft a single image.
And there was something magical that happened when I got together with this group of women and shared my knowledge with them. I gained much more than I gave. To see the excitement and enthusiasm from each of these women and to watch them fall in love with the process I’ve been in love with for a few years now was beyond words. It was a truly amazing experience. Our little class formed a tight bond!
Inspire is a really special kind of retreat. My long time friend Enna Grazier is one of the founders and leaders and it’s been a joy to watch Inspire grow over the past 5 years. I’ve only been able to attend for the past 2 retreats and I’m really glad that I’ve been able to become part of the Inspire community. Inspire is unlike anything else I’ve been to – it is run for photographers by photographers. Instructors are participants and members of the community. And I really think that the peer-to-peer instruction and mentoring is something that sets Inspire apart from other conferences that I’ve attended.
One of the biggest questions I got at Inspire was whether I offer the salt prints to my clients, which I never have. So, because of the encouragement from the wonderful group of women in my class, I will be offering these one-of-kind salted paper prints for sale to my clients (past, present, and future!). A few examples from recent sessions are shown throughout the post, but it is really hard to convey these digitally. I would love to show them off in person to anyone who is interested in commissioning a salt print from their portrait session. I’d love to see these hanging on my client’s walls! Each one is unique and special and will be offered framed and ready to hang. I will only be offering them in a single size for now – the paper is 8×10 and the image size is approximately 4×5. The finished framed piece is 11×14 with an espresso finish wood frame. Please contact me for more information!