We met Damian at The Other Art Fair and he left some of his framed photos with us. Recently, we sat down with mat to talk about his photography and were blown away by the in depth process, as he hand creates each print.
“I am passionate about film photography, and capturing beautiful and harsh landscapes; often within the same frame. I find the Australian landscape completely fascinating; it is such a dramatic contrast to New Zealand; where I am originally from, and is seemingly never-ending in its variation and size.
I strive to create simple and uncluttered images which have an inherent beauty with their composition, dream-like quality, and minimal colour or grey palette. My wish is that they are pleasant and restful to look at, and somewhere peaceful, solitary, and quiet to dwell for a time.”
64h x 82w
The black and white darkroom process:
Each print is exposed by projecting the negative for 20-40 seconds onto fibre-based light-sensitive ‘silver-gelatin’ paper, then ‘developed’ in a chemical bath; this is where the image first starts to appear over a few minutes. Then it is transferred to the ‘fixer’ bath to stop the development process.
The print is then inspected under normal light for the first time, and adjustments to exposure are discussed and mapped out for the next print. The first print is almost never used as a final.
The following print is exposed as per the first, or perhaps adjusted slightly, then an additional exposure is made to ‘dodge and burn’ certain areas of the image to enhance contrast and/or slightly alter exposure to select parts of the image. This can be done with your hands to shield or sculpt the projected light, or with cardboard cutouts. Sometimes parts of the image need a few extra seconds of light here and there, occasionally even longer.
3-5 prints are usually made until the desired contrast, exposure, and look is refined and achieved in the final print. This can take up to an hour for a single image, and even longer for very large prints.
After a brief wash the prints are placed in a hypo-clearing bath for 5 minutes and then washed again for 40-60 minutes.
After drying, the final master print of the image is selected. It then receives an archival selenium-toning bath to further enhance the longevity of the silver-gelatin paper, and to give the image a subtle metallic/deep purple cast.
After toning, the prints then received an additional 3-step archival wash sequence, which takes around 75 minutes. After drying again, the prints are then spotted to remove tiny dust particles or hairs present on the negative at the time of exposure, and then hot-pressed for several minutes.
Because of the hand-made completely analogue nature of this whole process, and the subtle variations in time and exposure between all of the prints, no two are ever the same. And as such each print is an entirely unique organic creation.
64h x 82w
“I love being a part of this process, and playing my small part to keep analogue photography alive. I choose my images to shoot carefully and deliberately, often only shooting one frame of a subject. On the one hand, to not waste film, and on the other hand it teaches me to be disciplined and precise with my choices. It also enhances the value of a single image when the buyer knows I did not rattle off 100 shots of roughly the same angle to create the ‘perfect’ one in Photoshop. I do not edit or alter my images in any way, and the black border indicates a full-frame uncropped image.
Many film stocks that I love are no longer made, but I am very proud to continue to shoot film after having picked up my first film camera in the late ‘90s. I have never owned a digital camera, and will keep shooting film for as long as it is made.
With its beautiful organic grain and naturalistic colour palette, film is a wonderful medium for creating images that appear slightly other-worldly and mystical.
I want to take the viewer to places around the country they would not normally think of, or have the opportunity to go to. This is the reason I love to travel in the way iI do; most of my favourite images are from places on roads not necessarily leading toward anywhere important. Often the most pleasing subjects and situations are not always famous geographic features and national parks, but everyday dusty old routes leading away from forgotten towns. No matter how far you travel, there is always another interesting shot just a little further up the road…
64h x 82w