A few years ago I saw the fantastic film War Photographer about James Nachtwey. One terrific scene shows Nachtwey working with a printer. He asks the printer to reprint his image over and over again. The printer dutifully nods and returns to the darkroom. The scene seemed as fantastical to me as the Wizard of Oz. Are there really printers out there who will work with you to find perfection? You must be kidding.
But a couple of years ago I discovered Laumont Labs in NYC. Laumont is a special place. Their clientele mostly consists of other artists. During today’s visit alone I met Bill Jacobsen, Scott Jackson and Ports Bishop – all fine folks (there is nothing like the comraderie among photographers at the lab).
But as much as I enjoy being in the presence of other artists, the reason I work at Laumont is to work with master printers like Alberto Blum. Just like Nachtwey’s wizard, Alberto never complains in his pursuit of the perfect print (though he might quietly fantasize about downing I glass of whiskey after I leave):
Along with Alberto, the office staff at Laumont is fantastic. Sarah Madsen is smart and funny and a damn fine photographer herself. (She also makes a good model):
Sarah, 2006. © Alec Soth