B&W labelling conventions

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When labelling black and white photographs for a show what is the proper indication of media? Geletin silver print, silver geletin print or silver print? I have seen all three used and don't know which is correct.

-- Lisa Mitchell (goliad@gte.net), April 17, 2000


Take your pick! Pat

-- pat j. krentz (krentz@cci-29palms.com), April 17, 2000.

Whatever you choose, be sure to spell gelatin correctly.

-- (edbuffaloe@unblinkingeye.com), April 17, 2000.

I do not want to insult any one but why do we have to give such high sounding names to our work. Please bear with me... About 2 years ago I returned to active participation in B&W. One of the things I did was go to museum exhibits to get the creative juces flowing. Low and behold all the photos were labeled "silver gelatin prints". I was totally taken aback by the terminology and apparently I started talking to myself something like this..."Whats a silver gelatin print? I thought these were black and white photos! I guess you can charge more for silver gelatin prints vis lowly B&W photos" My daughter tells me that I was amusing quite a crowd of art lovers by my sarcasm. Seriously in retrospect it does make sense to differentiate a silver print from a platinum or albumen print or god forbid digital...I just sounds so pretensious! In the current issue of Photo Tecniques there is an article that refers to silver halide based photography as AgX. So from now on I am telling everyone that I create images utilizing AgX media to produce silver gelatin prints. Boy does that sound important!!!

-- Robert Orofino (rorofino@iopener.net), April 17, 2000.

hehe Robert! you've made my day! I was reading something the other day that refered to 'silver gelatin prints' I wondered what the hoo- huh was about... thanks for enlightening me. AgX eh! *lol*

-- Nigel Smith (nlandgl@eisa.net.au), April 17, 2000.

Robert; I had the same reaction the first time I saw these labels myself. Still, I suppose it differentiates fibre-base prints from "Siver-resin/polymer" prints. We shouldn't grumble though. After years of trying to get Photography on an equal footing with other branches of the arts, we'll have to get used to the pretentious twaddle that accompanies the status of "Fine Art".

-- Pete Andrews (p.l.andrews@bham.ac.uk), April 18, 2000.

From my understanding RC prints are silver gelatin just as well.

So far, I only noted this inscription when visiting exhibitions of antique photographs. There, it makes sense because there were a couple of other methods which may not be easy to differentiate.

My first impulse when deciding to contribute to this thread was to write that nowadays, it would make sense to differentiate between RC and FB prints (because that's surely something a potential buyer of a print has a right to know), but then again antique photographic printing methods have gained some popularity again, and there is digital printing, etc. So maybe it does make sense in certain environments to state that your prints are silver gelatin FB or RC prints.

(BTW is a toned print then a silver-selenide (or sulphide) gelatin print?)

-- Thomas Wollstein (thomas_wollstein@web.de), April 18, 2000.


An RC print is simply a "Silver Gelatin Print," but a fiber based print is an "Archival Silver Gelatin Print!" Robert, I'm with you - it's B&W.


-- Pete Caluori (pcaluori@hotmail.com), April 18, 2000.

OK. From now on I don't make B&W photos. I make "Archival Silver Gelatin Prints via AgX Media" Is this sufficiently pretentious? I don't want to sell any one short on this...any suggestions?


-- Robert Orofino (rorofino@iopener.net), April 18, 2000.

Be sure to state whether it's organically grown gelatine or not, as well. :^)

-- Pete Andrews (p.l.andrews@bham.ac.uk), April 19, 2000.

As pretentious as it sounds, there is a legitimate reason for identifying prints as silver or silver/gelatin, etc. That is the aparently increasing number of photographers using "old" non-silver based printing techniques. Also the recovery and exhibition of lots of these old prints. Many buyers want to know if the print is silver/silver halide, platinum, carbro, etc. etc. Given some recent events involving fraudulent print identification (which may yet lead to criminal charges)I am in favor of having ALL the available data.

-- richard newman (rnewman@snip.net), April 21, 2000.

Identifying the medium of an artwork is hardly pretentious; it's standard gallery and museum practice. Referring to a photographic print as a "black and white photograph" says nothing about the print medium. It is like saying "color painting" instead of "oil on wood" or "acrylic on canvas." Anyone can see that it's a black and white photograph; the purpose of the label is to provide additional information. It is normal, and perfectly reasonable for galleries and museums to identify the medium of a work, whether it is a photograph or any other art form. It only seems pretentious if one believes that photography does not belong with and deserve the same treatment as other forms of art.

-- Chris Patti (cmpatti@aol.com), April 24, 2000.

Chris, First of all I have believed photography is an art for for many years and I understand you concern for giving photography it's due in the art world...but, I'm wary of anything that gives photography the aura of exclusivity.To me photography is truly the art of the people. Anyone can go out buy a camera and make some pretty good images (I found this out for myself when I taught a basic photography course about 15 years ago.). Likewise untill only recently every camera shop had all the materials you needed to do it yourself.This accessability is photography's strength. As far as I'm concerned the appelation Black and White Photograph has all the status without the pretension.BTW when you go to a Museum do you really care if the paintings are acrilics or oil.El Greco could have used crayola crayons and still have been great, likewise Picasso, Dali even Jackson Pollak [sorry for the spelling] (although I think he may have used crayons!!) In conclusion,I understand the rational but I just can't get over the implied pretension.

-- Robert Orofino (rorofino@iopener.net), April 24, 2000.

In fact, I AM interested in the media used by non-photographic artists, but maybe that's just me.

My point is that different standards should not be applied to photography than other art forms. It is no more pretentious to label a photograph a "silver gelatin print" than it is to label a painting "oil on canvas"--somthing no one complains about. The belief that anyone can take a photograph and maybe even make some "pretty good images" is, of course, what makes many view photography as less worthy than other art forms. The result is that when commonplace artistic conventions are applied to photography that is better than "pretty good" they are seen as "pretentious."

-- Chris Patti (cmpatti@aol.com), April 25, 2000.


Well where does that leave me, I don't produce "fine art" I usually produce "medium art" or sometimes "coarse art"

Why do we grade art like sandpaper anyway?


-- Mark Bau (markbau@altavista.com), April 25, 2000.

At the risk of beating a dead horse . . . I agree with any umbrage taken at the term "fine art."

-- Chris Patti (cmpatti@aol.com), April 25, 2000.

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