The Friday Photo #8 - John Daley
Bit behind the eight ball today, sorry. The place has been busy, too, so running a little late with this. Burrowing into the gallery's stock drawers, I surfaced with this treasure. It seems appropriate for today's weather, except that there were umbrellas in use here. The only umbrellas you'll see in Wellington today will be shattered remnants, looking like deceased and partially skeletal giant fruit bats, protruding from rubbish bins around the city.
This is a vintage print, made by John Daley himself. Like many things 44 years old, it has a few wrinkles. These can be seen if you hold the print in a certain light; and they do but add to its charm.
Actually, you need to take the print out of its gallery frame to see the wrinkles clearly, and while you're (carefully) doing this, turn it over and look at the signature. Also, the subtle, warm tonality of the image and photographic paper can be discerned, too. Exhibition-quality photographic prints are individual, unique items, and if you're thinking about buying one you should look at it closely if at all possible. Don't expect something new and shiny off the production line. Look for character and uniqueness. And find out the provenance, if it is known. (This print is part of a private collection.)
If you're interested in John Daley's photography, there's the book Big Smoke - New Zealand City People in the '60s and 70s - John Daley, Godwit (Random House), Auckland, 2004. I remember seeing the exhibition at Pataka, Porirua, that went with the book. All of the photos had been reprinted for it, large and impressively. But they lacked a certain quality that can sometimes be found in a vintage print. They were nice and clear to look at, but somewhat cold- and distant-feeling.
The term 'vintage print' is used somewhat loosely and variously by galleries. In it's strictest definition, it means the print or prints made pretty much immediately after the photo was taken, and printed by the photographer. Some experts even impose a time limit on it. But in reality, under this definition, there would often be no vintage print of an image. Nowdays, with digital image capture, most photographers wouldn't bother to make a print until it was required for exhibition or for sale, and the image may well exist only in digital format until that occasion.
The term 'vintage print' needs to be applied with regard to a photographer's practice and work habits. There should always be a distinction (with older images) between 'vintage' and 'recent' prints. It is also worthwhile finding out if the print was made by the photographer or by someone else. A print made by the photographer is not necessarily better, nor is a vintage print necessarily of better quality than a recent one. It comes down to the individual print being offered, and what you are looking for.
'Nuff for now. Going live before it's too late.
The photo is on the wall in Photospace Gallery (by my desk) if you'd like to see the real thing.
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Photography Matters II