At 02:21 PM 3/15/98 -0500, you wrote:
> Mr. Sullivan, I am a senior at Champlain Valley Union High School in
>Hinesburg, Vermont. One the requirements for graduation is to complete a
>project that consists of thirty hours of work and a ten page paper. I have
>chosen the topic of alternative process photography, specifically the
>cyanotype, Van Dyke Brown and the Kwik printing processes. Recently I
>discovered your site on the Internet. Since you have an extensive
>would like you to respond to some questions I have. This interview will be
>used as a resource for my paper. Thank you very much for your time.
> Jason Mohler
This sounds like a fascinating project. I am more than happy to answer
these and any other questions you may have.
Since there is nothing here of a personal nature I am posting my answers to
an alternative photo list serve group.
I'll answer your questions in the body of your message.
>Here are my questions:
>I saw on your webpage you have done extensive work with alternative
>Your Van Dyke Brown prints were amazing. What is the greatest problem you
>have had while using this process?
Since it is a contact printing process, getting the enlarged negative from
the original 35 mm and 2 1/4's was the biggest. These were done long before
you were born -- in the mid 70's (That is unless it is taking you an
inordinate amount of time graduating from high school!!!) At that time I
was raising a family and money was in short supply. I solved the problem
when I discovered that Freestyle Sales, a photo supplier in Los Angeles,
had 500 ft rolls of 9 inch aerial film for $50.00 per roll. This was some
left over Korean War stuff that had been in government freezers for 20
years. If you look at all of those images, you will see that they are all
in two parts and you can see the 9 inch strips making up the images.
>What advice can you offer someone like me who is just starting out?
Learn the basics of photography. Read read read. Got to a good university
library and find the section with the bound 19th and early 20th century
photo journals and spend a few Saturdays reading them. Just scan through,
look at the pics, the ads, and read an occasional article. There is no
better way to get the true flavor of our photographic past. You will also
gain a great deal of respect for our photographic forbears.
And last but not least, don't be afraid to experiment. There is lots more
to be discovered.
>What guidelines do you set for yourself when taking a photo that you
>print using the Van Dyke process?
I never took them with the Van Dyke in mind. The process was a
post-visualizing event. I was much under the influence of John Cage --
musician and artist who frequently included random events in his work --
check him out.
>What criteria do you use to judge an alternative process final print?
The first thing a print must do is tell me what it is about. Not the image
but the print mind you. Then you need to read the print with that in mind.
This is largely an unconscious happening -- that is until the print is in
opposition to itself. Some prints scream at you "I am all about precision
print quality" and then the print is badly made, unspotted and washer
creases visible when held up to raking light.
My Van Dykes do not scream "Print quality" but I think they say something
about process, both in the making and the taking of the image. There is in
most a sense of the random.
>Have you ever combined processes?
Van Dyke and Cyanotype by randomly coating both on the same paper. It is an
either-or process as the Cyano replaces totally the VD. There is not
>If yes, which processes?
>What was the result?
>What pointers could you give to someone attempting to combine processes?
Experiment. Try gum over platinum/palladium. it's a classic process and not
much done these days.
>How often do you work with each alternative process you use?
It varies. Most of the time today I am working on developing new processes
so I almost never make a print the same way twice!
>Do you have one process that you specialize in? Which one?
Ziatype is my current favorite. Then I am prejudiced, since I invented this
>In my experience of printing with the cyanotype process, I found that the
>contrast was extreme. How do you achieve the mid-range tones of blue?
You might want to check out Mike Wares new cyanotype process. A link to his
site is on my site.
>What experience do you have with the Kwik Printing process?
>What experience do you have with the Cyanotype process?
Like most alt-photo folks I started with it but the blue really gets you
down after a while.
Ask more questions. This is fun.
>From Jason Phezult <Phezult@aol.com>