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Offset Printing workshop, an insiders view on Ink & silver
“...and John Turner created chaos; and we (eventually) saw that it was good. It took the form of the Offset Printing for Photographers Workshop, held at Elam in January under his auspices, with the guiding light of Morrie Camhi. Morrie is a well known photographer from San Fransisco - to be exact, a small chicken- farming town called Petaluma, but then to be even more exact we should call him a philosopher or guru-mentor type.
In their tender care for the three intense weeks were eight photographers...certainly amongst them names to look out for in the future (if not already) : Kapil Arn, Wayne Barrar, Jill Carlyle, Jennifer Gillam, John Hawkhead, Dean Nixon, Stuart Sontier, and Clive Stone. However, this was no mere photographers exclusive domain: two printers - Graeme Chicken and Martin Schanzel - were present, playing a pivotal role. This was the expressed purpose of the workshop - to produce a book. Yawn?... but wait; the finest book! Reproduction so good that for the accompanying exhibition, most of the photographers reprinted their work in order to attempt to do justice to the quality of the printed page.
My impression that this was going to be an interesting workshop was to be shattered, however. The organisation of this episode initially left a lot to be desired. As the time passed, I could see that this had benefits - major impact, mind-bending concepts, soul-shaking ideas, along with a few tips that even the ‘gods’ among us bent an ear to. Morrie was able to mould this chaos with gentle words and a masterly tutor’s years of experience. The workshop became an epic journey. In a few weeks each of us had garnered considerable insights and had been forced to re-evaluate our own directions.
The work each brought was dissected by the group and analysed astutely by Morrie. Final selections were made by the individuals, for four photographs each, to be used in The Book, but only after the reasons for these choices was thoroughly discussed. The layout of the book, although alphabetical, was carefully arranged in consultation with photographers and printers.
The printers role was then brought in to determine how each photograph was to be treated. The result far exceeded our expectations and we are confident that this book will now set the benchmark for all others to attempt to follow.
Every day brought something new - Morrie interspersed each session with interesting, far-ranging discussions, lectures, and analysis of notable photographic works and essays: from technical problem solving through to the (seriously) meaning of life. Specific topics included: motivation, patronage, portfolios, archival practice, printing for reproduction, 35mm zone system, projects, publishing and money, book design, and much more. These in turn were further interspersed with Morrie’s stories and anecdotes - some of them even vaguely relevant. In all of this, however, Morrie’s wit, wisdom, and sensitivity touched each one of us. Certainly all were able to take something of this into their own psyches.
I, for one, will remember to be “as honest as I can be to what I think I see, and what I think I understand, and to try to ensure that people can see in my photographs the things I thought I saw myself”, ...and the one about the bald man, and...”