Many readers of my email newsletter will already be aware of the news I am including below. However, I wanted to make sure that any and all photographers on my email list had heard the sad news about Kodak's recent decision concerning traditional black and white silver halide imaging.
On Wednesday, June 15, in Rochester, New York, Eastman Kodak Company, announced it would discontinue the production of all black and white photographic papers. Kodak cited significant declines in market usage of papers designed for Black-and-White printing as the reason for the decision. As you might imagine, this was a day of great sadness that I, along with many other photographers, will never forget.
As many of you know, I have used Kodak photographic films and papers for many years. Over the past few years, my primary printing paper preference has been Kodak Polymax Fine Art paper. I mourn its discontinuance, along with the rest of Kodak's black and white papers, and realize it will mean inevitable changes in my own photographic printmaking. I did want to assure those who have prints on order with me that I have a sufficient supply of paper to complete all existing print orders with the paper on which they were initially printed. While there are still a few other photographic papers of excellent quality available from some manufacturers, for my own personal needs I found Polymax Fine Art to be the best choice for much of my imagery. As you might imagine, I have already begun to anticipate possible alternatives.
Here are some links to news stories about Kodaks recent announcement:
(Note: Link no longer available)
Note: Link no longer available)
In addition, I have attached a document that was emailed by Kodak on Wednesday.
I wish I could say that an outpouring of letters, emails, and phone calls to Eastman Kodak might change their decision, but according to friends who work at Kodak, this is a virtual impossibility. That being said, I want to encourage all readers of this email newsletter, along with anyone with whom you might share this information, to write a letter to Daniel Carp, the Chairman of Eastman Kodak Company. I am told that letters will be far more effective than phone calls or emails in communicating your reactions about Kodak's decision.
Here is Mr. Carp's mailing address:
Daniel A. Carp
Eastman Kodak Company
343 State Street
Rochester, NY 14650-0228
As I noted, I suspect there is little chance for Kodak to change direction on this decision. However, Kodak still manufactures silver halide films, as well as photographic chemicals. I believe it is imperative for the management of Kodak to realize that much greater advance warning is necessary for professional photographers and photographic enthusiasts, such as us, to plan and adjust our working methods. By choice, I have used Kodak Professional black and white films exclusively for many years. The reason for this is its impeccable quality control. To date, I have seen absolutely no deterioration in their film quality. However, I am concerned that changes could be made which might compromise the quality and consistency of their products, and I would not want to be put in a situation to have such limited lead time, if and when Kodak decides to discontinue essential products or entire product lines in the future.
I do hope that photographic manufacturers, such as Agfa, Forte, Ilford, Kentmere, and Oriental, will continue to produce fiber-base papers of high quality well into the future. To date I have never seen a black and white print from the digital domain that rivals the sensuous and tactile qualities of a well-crafted black and white silver print. Perhaps there is a company on the horizon that will see the need for an on-going truly archival photographic medium, and rise to the occasion to manufacture high quality black and white silver papers for decades to come. Let's hope so! Moreover, let's support any company that undertakes such a noble endeavor.
I hope that my next email newsletter will contain more positive news and information. I still love working in the traditional silver halide darkroom. I find there to be a therapeutic aspect to making prints by hand in the darkroom - gently "massaging" the light onto the paper, and handling those prints through the photographic chemistry. I've said many times in workshops and lectures that two or three minutes in the developer goes by much more quickly for me than fifteen or twenty seconds watching the icon of a wristwatch spin on my computer monitor. Long live silver!!!
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Copyright © 2005 John Sexton. All rights reserved.