HOW I MAKE PHOTOGRAPHS by Gary Watson

There’s something very special in film-based photography about the way the images are revealed – in phases and transformed over time.

The first time I see a photograph, it is in the viewfinder of my camera.  This image is still malleable.  I can change the viewpoint and scope.  I can define what is inside the four sides of the frame.  I can decide what is in focus.  But as soon as I push the shutter button, the image is defined – time is frozen and that bit of reality is captured as a latent image on a sensitized piece of film.

The latent image on the film cannot be seen at this point, but I see the photograph in my mind’s eye.  What do I remember about this picture when I pushed the button?  What was happening in front of the lens?  Was there magic that I did not perceive at the moment of making the exposure?  The answers to these questions must wait for the next transformation of the image. 

The film must be developed in a series of chemical baths to turn the latent image into a viewable image. The anticipation is incredible as the negatives are removed from the final bath and the images are born into the light to be seen.  But the images are reversed at this point – light is dark and dark is light – and the negatives only heighten the anticipation of investigating the bit of time captured on the film.  

Light is projected through the negative onto sensitized paper, which is slipped into a tray containing developing chemicals.  Under the amber safelight, after several seconds, the ghostly hints of the final image appear.  By the time two minutes have passed, the image has emerged – fully rendered and beautiful. 

Each step of the way is a little miracle of science and art – taking an image from conception through birth and to reaching its full potential.

And this is also the story of THE SILOS, a development that began as a concept and will blossom into a thriving artist community – but not instantly, but in phases and transformed over time.   

Four negatives of SILOS images fresh from developing and hanging to dry.  

Four negatives of SILOS images fresh from developing and hanging to dry.