Lauren Henkin

David Vestal whose passing I mentioned yesterday, was a man whose work very much reflected the interaction between craft and vision that is at the heart of photography, and the same is certainly true of the landscape photography of Lauren Henkin, as you can see from the interview with her published recently on Petapixel.

This starts by looking at what made her become a photographer, and she picks as a key moment a visit with her parents to a Harry Callahan retrospective at the US National Gallery of Art in 1996, when she was in her early twenties, around the end of her BA in Architecture, where she says “Callahan’s prints (in particular the photographs of Cape Cod), I had a visceral reaction to them.”

She goes on to describe taking a master printing workshop with George Tice, certainly one of the finest printers around both in platinum and silver  I think I probably first registered his name when he was one of the photographers featured in the ground-breaking volume ‘Darkroom‘, published by Lustrum Press in 1977 – on the verso of the title page under the usual details of the colophon the statement ‘PHYSICAL FACT/PSYCHIC EFFECT‘. A series of prints Tice had made from the same negative “opened up the path for me to develop a vocabulary for my prints.”

Henkin goes on to mention two other even more familiar names to me, Tyler Boley and Jon Cone, pioneers in fine art digital printing, whose helpful comments on-line in groups such as Digital Black and White the Print and Piezography 3000 have been a part of my daily life for a dozen or more years. You can read an intersting article written in 2012 by Cone, The State of the State of the Arts in Black & White, which is illustrated by the work of Henkin and Boley among others.

It was Jon Cone who, following on from his experience with Iris printers pioneered high quality black and white printing on Epson desktop inkjet printers.  I started printing with his PiezographyBW Quad ink system in 2000, producing black and white images on matte papers that startled me by their quality, matching or surpassing those I’d made some years earlier with platinum, platinum/palladium and kallitype (albeit with less control over image colour.) I went on to be a beta tester for the next generation of PiezoTone inks.

Cone’s work led printer manufacturers to up their game, and although I’m convinced that Piezography’s latest generation is still the ultimate in black and white printing quality (now on both glossy and matte papers – and yes, capable of more than silver) I no longer use them. Most of my printing is now in colour and I don’t print enough for it to seem worth changing to the cheaper ConeColor system that gives results identical to the Epson inks. If I ever get around to printing serious black and white portfolios I’ll start by investing in a new printer and the latest Cone inks.

But back to Lauren Henkin, who goes on to talk about her inspirations, mentioning photographer Robert Adams as well as painters, sculptors, architects and poets and then moving on to discuss her latest project. The Park, taken in that highly photographed space, Central Park in New York over three years, and her earlier work. Visually, even on screen, it is delightful and her website has an admirable and classical simplicity that complements the fine imagery.

I’ve yet to have the opportunity to see her actual prints as her work hasn’t been exhibited in the UK (she has been in group shows in Arles and Paris, along with a long list since 2007 in the US and Canada.) But its perhaps a reflection on the kind of photography that is promoted by the relatively few spaces that show contemporary work here that London (or some of our other major cities) is not yet on that list.

Henkin is also co-editor of Tilted Arc, a web site with the strap-line ‘Art and argument, fact and fiction. And verse.’ which has recently began a series ‘Women in the Landscape, a new ongoing feature,”conversations between women photographers whose work focuses on the land”. The first conversation is between Henkin and Canadian photographer Jessica Auer, whose work is well worth exploring.

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