Gelatin Silver Prints – Thing of the Past?
Kodak has announced that it would cease production of all black and white papers beginning in 2006. The Agfa company announced that it too has suspended production of all black and white products, including paper and chemistry. This has left only a handful of smaller specialty companies producing papers and/or darkroom chemistry.
A decline of about 25 percent per year in the demand for its black and white papers is the sole reason for Kodak’s decision. The future of traditional silver printing is being pondered by many photographers according to a recent article in Black and White Magazine.
Many photographers are taking precautions to preserve remaining stocks of papers in order to fill the commitments and projects for the next couple of years.
Beyond the concern on the constraints placed on photographers by a limited variety and availability of papers, there is a worry over the implications regarding the collectors market and a general appreciation of fine printmaking. There is a concern whether there will be a loss in appreciation for the sensuous aspects and sheer beauty of a fine silver print. If products continue to disappear, there will be fewer photographers who will choose traditional silver darkroom work.
GALLERY M has many fine gelatin silver prints including Nina Leen’s “Pleated Skirt” shown here. Some connoisseurs will find that the silver print will become more rare and ever more linked to silver as a commodity.