There were 204 photo printing labs in and around London in 2006, printing images from film stock to paper. By 2009, only six remained.
In each of these labs’ darkrooms were photo enlargers, themselves quite large, that projected the images from film negatives onto a piece of photo paper. Richard Nicholson’s series Analog — The Last One Out, Please Turn On the Light is a requiem for these hulking machines, now gradually wending their way to obscurity and landfill.
For over a century, the vast infrastructure of film photography was steadily growing and evolving, but the rise of digital equipment over the last decade has forced it to decay exponentially. In many cases it’s disappearing entirely. Polaroid film has already been discontinued, and just last month the last rolls of Kodachrome were processed at Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, Kansas.
Just because the use of analog printing tools is shrinking, however, doesn’t mean it will die altogether. As black-and-white printer Jim Margeree has reminded us, there is still a lot to talk about “beyond the trite ‘analog vs. digital’ clichés.” There is too much chatter about death in photography, and forphotojournalism in particular. Nicholson’s Analog is a celebration as much as it is a goodbye.
Nicholson spoke with Raw File about his motives, his challenges, his own use of analog and digital technologies and just what happened to those giant enlargers:
For the interview, read it at Wired Mag