Feb 082013

Next Tuesday 12th February sees the opening of Looking at the View at Tate Britain.

This thematic display looks at continuities in the way artists have framed our vision of the landscape over the last 300 years. Comprised entirely from the Tate Collection, over seventy works by more than fifty artists will be included, with familiar names such as J.M.W. Turner and Tracey Emin making an appearance.

Among such luminaries will be a long-standing client of mine, Fiona Crisp. Tate will be showing a print I made for Fiona, ‘Norwegian Series #3 2007’…

Fiona Crisp's Norwegian Series No.3 from 'Look at the View' on show at Tate Britain, London

Fiona Crisp, Norwegian Series #3 2007

As Fiona describes in an accompanying article for The Guardian:

Norwegian Series #3 2007 is from a cycle of four photographic works taken from a rural house high in the mountains of central Norway in the summer of 1999. The image holds no clue as to the time of day it was made but there is a quality to the light — or more accurately, to the differentiation of the interior and exterior light — that is hard to place. All the photographs in the series were taken at different points during the night when, in addition to a lack of darkness at this latitude, there are subtle shifts in colour cast that slightly nudge your perception off kilter.

‘Looking at the View’ also includes the work of Wolfgang Tillmans, Julian Opie, Tacita Dean, Carol Rhodes and Lisa Milroy.

The show runs until 2nd June with free entry.

Dec 042012

Imagine it’s 1873.

Platinum/Palladium printing has just been invented but the print size is limited to that of the plate or film on which the photograph was originally captured.

An inherent attribute of any contact printing process, this meant that 5×4″ and 10×8″ Platinum prints were commonplace at the time.

Fast forward to the 21st Century and we now have the ability to make much larger digital negatives, resulting in the ability to make similarly larger Platinum/Palladium prints.

This year, Richard and I have been proud to take part in several projects that make full use of this new marriage of old and new technologies — Ian Aitken’s photographs of northern white rhinos have been a prime example.

Platinum Print of the Northern White Rhino, Fatu, by Ian Aitken

30×22″ Platinum Print of the Northern White Rhino, Fatu, by Ian Aitken

This has been an extraordinary undertaking by Ian, who liaised with the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.

Here, he took exclusive photographs of Najin, Fatu, Sudan and Suni — four of the world’s last seven remaining northern white rhinos — in a joint fundraising effort for the conservancy.

On 18th December 2012, Ian was invited to discuss the project on BBC Radio 4’s Saving Species.

Click on the image below, where you can hear Ian being interviewed from the 10:17 mark (I know the image below is a gorilla, it’s also a red herring!):

Ian Aitken discusses his project with the Northern White Rhinos at Ol Pejeta on BBC Radio 4's Saving Species

Listen to Ian discussing his project from the 10:17 mark…

As Ian explains further on his dedicated site:

In January 2012, I was invited to Ol Pejeta.

During this trip, I’d photographed the northern white rhino several times, but was not satisfied with my approach, so on the last morning of the trip I arranged to get some close-up portraits.

I wanted Mount Kenya in the background and the rhino in the foreground. With the guards’ help I managed to get Fatu in profile. I’d known how rare these animals are, but preparing for the photo I was struck by the loneliness and unbelievable fragility of their situation.

Then Fatu suddenly turned and started walking towards me. I was terrified — they are huge animals — but carried on taking photos, stepping backwards, faster and faster. The guards told me to stop and stand still for my own safety. Fatu came right up close to me and nuzzled her head in my stomach.

I know it’s corny, but at that moment, with the personal contact, I was hooked. I was completely blown away.

Platinum Print of the Northern White Rhino, Najin, by Ian Aitken

Framed 30×22″ Platinum Print of the Northern White Rhino, Najin, by Ian Aitken

Platinum Print of the Northern White Rhino, Fatu, by Ian Aitken

Framed 30×22″ Platinum Print of the Northern White Rhino, Fatu, by Ian Aitken

Platinum Print of the Northern White Rhino, Suni, by Ian Aitken

Framed 30×22″ Platinum Print of the Northern White Rhino, Suni, by Ian Aitken

Platinum Print of the Northern White Rhino, Sudan, by Ian Aitken

Framed 30×22″ Platinum Print of the Northern White Rhino, Sudan, by Ian Aitken

The framed prints are beautiful photographic objects…

The 24×16″ photograph sits within a sheet of 30×22″ paper and the print floats inside bespoke frames made of English brown oak inlaid with African mpingo and carved with the name of each rhino.


Platinum Print of the Northern White Rhino, Najin, by Ian Aitken

The set of four prints were first shown at The Royal Geographical Society on 31st October.

They carry an incredible stone-like quality, the long tones of the Platinum/Palladium combination lending themselves perfectly to the leathery skin of the rhinos and their surroundings.

For every print sold, 50% of the profits directly help to protect the northern white rhino from poachers.

Proceeds will fund the building of a modern security base at Ol Pejeta’s northern white rhino enclosure.

Platinum Prints of Northern White Rhinos at The Royal Geographical Society

The full set of Platinum Prints on show at The Royal Geographical Society

The fundraising project is fully endorsed by Fauna and Flora International and the Ol Pejeta Conservancy.

For further details on how to buy these stunning prints, please visit AitkenPrints.

If you would like to learn more about how we could make Platinum/Palladium prints for you, please take a look at this page or feel free to contact me.

Notes on Print Production:

I used my HP Designjet Z3200 in conjunction with HP’s very own Large Format Digital Negative Application to make Digital Negatives from Ian’s camera files.

The final prints were made on 310gsm Arches Platine in conjunction with 139 Printroom.


Nov 012012

It has been a great pleasure to make three huge prints for Chris Harrison’s latest show, I Belong Jarrow, which opens this evening in Norway.

Chris grew up in Jarrow (very near to my studio here in Newcastle upon Tyne) and now, as he writes on his About page, lives in a little yellow house on the edge of a wood near Oslo.

Chris Harrison, I Belong Jarrow

Although he’s settled abroad, Chris is obviously still very attached to the town he recognises as home:

“I was born and brought up in Jarrow, a tough industrial town on the south bank of the river Tyne. It’s where I call home.

“I have lived abroad for more years than I care to admit. My Mother and Father are getting old and moving out of Jarrow, cutting me adrift with no way back. Finally, I have been forced to think about who I am and where I belong.

“I never wanted to leave Jarrow. I always imagined that one day I would make it my home. I realise now that I can never return. Somehow I traded knowledge of the outside world for some vital piece of me.

“With this realisation, I have returned home in order to try to establish how much of where I am from determines who I am, and to begin to understand why I can’t seem to let go.”

Chris Harrison, I Belong Jarrow

Chris Harrison, I Belong Jarrow

Chris’ book, ‘I Belong Jarrow’, can be purchased directly from Schilt Publishing or, of course, from Amazon.

Aug 242012

In this, our Olympic year, the world has witnessed an extraordinary multi-cultural spectacle in the London Games.

For most, I’m sure, it has been joyous, exciting and fascinating to see so many people from so many diverse walks of life meet for one huge event.

As you may have read earlier in the year, I have had a small part to play in the Olympics too.  However, I have also been working on the culmination of another huge multi-cultural project — Julian Germain’s Classroom Portraits.

Julian Germain, Classroom Portraits, The Future Is Ours, Nigeria

Julian Germain | Classroom Portraits | Kuramo Junior, Nigeria

I have worked with Julian on this project for seven years — scanning and printing some 200 images selected from the 500 or so made.

Largely commissioned by The British Council, this body of work has now become a huge documentation of the world’s youth in their schools around the globe.

Over the last few months, I have really enjoyed preparing many of these photographs for Julian’s major show The Future Is Ours at Nederlands Fotomuseum and for the accompanying book, Classroom Portraits published by Prestel.

Julian Germain, Classroom Portraits, The Future Is Ours, Peru

Print Detail | HP Vivera Pigment Ink | Hahnemühle Photo Rag 308gsm

Over the years, so many discussions have arisen in the making of these photographs.

In preparing this article, I posed a question to Julian:

“In your preface to the book Classroom Portraits, you describe the seemingly magical moment where ‘you are waiting for them and they are waiting for you’.

“Having visited so many schools in so many countries across the globe, you have clearly had a unique insight into the lives of thousands of children from so many backgrounds and cultures.

“I wonder, on your travels making these portraits, can you recall where you experienced the greatest vibe of happiness?”

Julian replied:

“Well, that isn’t an easy question…

“Firstly, I found mostly happy, interesting kids everywhere I went, as well as a few surly difficult ones. I enjoyed every country too, although I did find Saudi Arabia and Qatar more difficult to acclimatise to.

“I guess you are really referring to a vibe coming from the pupils but I can’t avoid my response being coloured by the vibe that I was getting not simply from them, but from being in their country, experiencing their culture beyond the classrooms.

“On that basis, I was probably most deeply affected by experiences in Ethiopia, Bangladesh and Yemen — all extraordinary places with particularly friendly and, let’s not pretend otherwise, very poor people, without access to the consumerism that defines our (or any) modern economy.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if I was seduced by the idea of this kind of innocence of materialism — lets face it, in a way this is one of the themes of For Every Minute You Are Angry You Lose Sixty Seconds of Happiness isn’t it?”

Julian Germain, Classroom Portraits, The Future Is Ours, UK

Print Detail | HP Vivera Pigment Ink | Hahnemühle Photo Rag 308gsm


Julian continues:

“Nevertheless, to try and give you an example of a happiness vibe moment…

“In Ethiopia, because of the rain and mud, I had to abandon my truck, lights, generator and walk two miles to a village primary school.

“It was a beautiful walk past open countryside and occasional round wooden houses with thatched roofs, no electricity or running water. The few people I saw smiled and waved.

“It was quiet, tranquil even, just the sound of the birds and the light breeze in the trees. The school was crowded with kids (so they must have come from far and wide) and it was missing at least two teachers that day.

“Some pupils had notebooks and pens but most didn’t. The teaching was obviously basic. There were just a few textbooks. No desks or tables, just benches and a blackboard, mud floor and walls.

“I photographed every class, two in lessons and the other three outside because every class was desperate to be photographed. They took it very seriously and were very proud.

“At the end of the morning (a different crowd of kids arrived for the afternoon session) I walked back along the track with several pupils, each of them eager to show off their handwriting before peeling off at various points on the track to follow their own particular paths home.

“They told me that if and when they graduated to secondary school they would walk 9 miles there and 9 miles back, not a prospect that bothered them in the least — in fact, they were looking forward to it.

“That afternoon I visited that secondary school and made a portrait of a Grade 12 Physics class with at least 70 pupils, several of whom had gone to the aforementioned primary and would shortly be embarking on that long walk home.

“The lesson was on the First Law of Thermodynamics — way over my head. The teacher was amazing, dressed in a sparkling white lab coat, passionate about his subject and very proud of his pupils.

“I was moved, overwhelmed by the vibe created by a room full of young people with such enthusiasm to learn.”


Julian Germain, Classroom Portraits, The Future Is Ours, Nigeria

Print Detail | HP Vivera Pigment Ink | Hahnemühle Photo Rag 308gsm

Julian Germain, Classroom Portraits, The Future Is Ours, Nigeria

Print Detail | HP Vivera Pigment Ink | Hahnemühle Photo Rag 308gsm

Julian Germain, Classroom Portraits, The Future Is Ours, Taiwan

Julian pores over a print of a Taiwanese class…

Julian Germain, Classroom Portraits, The Future Is Ours, Taiwan

Print Detail | HP Vivera Pigment Ink | Hahnemühle Photo Rag 308gsm

The Book…


As well as the exhibition, I also prepared the photographs for the 208 page book Classroom Portraits published by Prestel.

In addition to the photographs, the reader is treated to a foreword by Dr. Leonid Llyushin, Professor of Pedagogy at St. Petersburg State University along with a preface by Julian.

A truly stunning, engaging publication and an essential addition to any photo book collection…


Julian Germain, Classroom Portraits, The Future Is Ours, Prestel

Checking proofs in the studio…

Julian Germain, Classroom Portraits, The Future Is Ours, Prestel

With the work completed, my signed book arrives…

The Exhibition…


The exhibition of 140 prints is running at the Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam, until 2nd September.

Jul 262012

Muhammad Ali by Thomas HoepkerRather than working solely in the digital arena, I consider myself a fan of all things photographic.

Over the past twelve years or so, I have dedicated my life to the highest quality inkjet printing (sometimes know as Giclée).  However, keen followers will know that I have also been working intensively on the analogue side for the last two years or so with Richard Freestone of 139 Printroom.

Together, we have been bridging Centuries to produce sumptuous analogue Platinum/Palladium prints from modern Digital Negatives.

This side of our working lives has been steadily taking shape as increasing numbers of photographers, collectors and galleries begin to understand the beautiful nature of the service we are now able to offer.

Every now and then, the most wonderful convergence of events can happen in photographic printing — Richard and I have been privileged to enjoy such a convergence over the last fortnight or so…

Picture this: A commission from a world-famous photographic collective to make a Platinum/Palladium print edition of one of the most iconic humans ever to grace the planet.

Well, last week that commission came through for us from Magnum in the form of a spontaneous moment grabbed by Thomas Hoepker in 1966 of Muhammad Ali.

Platinum/Palladium edition print made by Jack Lowe Studio and 139 Printroom of Muhammad Ali by Thomas Hoepker

Platinum/Palladium Edition Print of Muhammad Ali by Thomas Hoepker for Magnum

Thomas Hoepker (b.1936) joined Magnum in 1964, becoming a full member in 1989.  He has many incredible photographs, exhibitions and publications to his name.

Richard asked Thomas how this image came about and he gave a candid reply:

“I got this shot when I worked on a reportage on Ali in Chicago in 1966. I watched him during training in the gym and during a short break he saw me sitting there in a corner.

“He danced up to me, stopped briefly in front of my seat and threw three quick pushes in my direction. Then Ali turned around and was gone.

“Only one shot is sharp, the other two underexposed. There was very little light.”

Thomas has also just published a book on Ali called CHAMP carrying the same image on the cover.

The Platinum/Palladium process suits the photograph perfectly — with each print carrying a stone-like quality, it really feels as though the viewer is about to be hit by a fist of rock!

If you would like to learn how we can make Platinum/Palladium prints for you from your digital files, remember to take a look at this page.

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