LECTURES / WORKSHOPS
GENE NOCON LECTURES
With 40 years experience in photography, working at the highest level of activity, I can look back and see what has
taken place in our industry.
The film (as opposed to digital) industry was a great learning process. Particularly for me: I was the hub of a
photographic community in my capacity as a photographic printer. Every photographer (in London) needed
my services. Because of that it became the focus of photographic manufacturers: ILFORD, KODAK, NIKON,
HASSELBLAD, DEVERE, PATERSON, LEICA, and many others. It was the center, as well, for students of photography.
And because of this I created a community darkroom facility where young photographers could print their own work
in the same space where I worked and therefore could provide help and advice. Everyone met there: it was known
as THE PHOTOGRAPHERS WORKSHOP. It was a great time and a great place to learn photography and share
information with other photographers. . Those were fabulous days.
Digital has changed the community of photography. There is no “hub” - no center of activity. The photolab is no
more. Digital photographers have no place to go. They pretty much work in isolation. There is no distribution of
knowledge. There is no... I won’t go on.
I love digital. It has renewed my interest in photography and has advanced my ideas about print making. But that’s
because I transferred my aesthetics and reformulated my techniques to work in the digital medium. I’m as comfortable
working with PHOTOSHOPTM as I was working in the darkroom. And it is with those same aesthetics that I continue
What digital has done is to make possible the activity that was once the responsibility of the photolab - the end
product of the our industry: the print. Young photographers are lured by the idea that they can print their own
photographs. I’ve seen some results and frankly I question the standard of the work. Perhaps they had never seen
what an actual photographic print looks like. Even if that person had: I know one professional photographer whose
once award winning pictures now look like cartoons, bad ones at that. He had no background in the darkroom, yet
he attempts to print his own work. The point is that PHOTOSHOPTM, to the uninitiated, is like trying to use a calculator
without any fundamental understanding of math.
Perhaps this collection may provide some guidelines as to what photography was before digital. And with this
historical material create an educational program to reestablish photography to its former glory. This is not a return to
the womb, to the darkroom, but to foster interest in what was done and to now explore the process in digital. Perhaps
this will bring back the community of photography.
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