Étretat, July 1994.
Photography improves in a constant way, forever in the same direction. Films are faster, lenses more luminous, shutters are working at 1/4000 s. Images of our world that condescend to stay in our mind are such tiny moments, joined end to end, they rarely excess a few minutes. The waves of images are invading our daily world without giving us the time to really see them. Television, video, newspapers, magazines, publicity and posters bring everyday a stupefying harvest of what some still dare to call "choc des images" (image impact).
As a reaction to this tendency of photography, I wanted very much to find a way to depart, travel, photograph and send very personal and emotional images to some friends. I wanted this photography to be quite elementary (rudimentary) and concentrated. By concentrated, I mean that the concentration of the photographer, between the exposure and the final result, should not relax. A complete cycle of image creation would have to happen at the same place without discontinuity. The photographic image would then be able to become impregnated with the location and the confrontation of the photographer with his subject would last more than 1/125 of a second. The pinhole camera is the only solution because of its exposure time of many minutes.
All alone on my island with the pinhole camera, two hours rowing hard from the civilisation, I was happy. I was thinking of the pioneers, Charles Nègre and others, who much sooner than me, had enjoyed developing on location. Yes, processing on site, that was important. Polaroid film, the only concession to modernism gave me the possibility to do it. Have you ever tried to wash your negatives with seawater, you should try it!
A small amount of watercolour paper, impregnated with kallitype emulsion, was my printing paper, which was contact-exposed in broad daylight. The richness of tone of the kallitype (sometimes enhanced with metallic brilliance due to silver excess), the versatility of the process, and the free choice of the paper all persuaded me.
© Philippe Moroux -