This newsletter will bring you up to date on our photography activities over the past year and planned ones for 2001 and beyond. The addendum lists current prices for prints, portfolios, books, and other things. Please note that our print prices have gone up and that there are a number of other changes from last year.
Last year we wrote, "From time to time we wish the pace of these activities would slow down a bit, but as soon as that thought passes we just add on more. For better or worse, it seems we are incorrigible." If there was a question about our being incorrigible, it has been settled. We are. Between photographing, printing, writing, publishing books (and now note cards), teaching workshops, moving forward with our web sites, and planning and building two major additions, we haven't had a moment to stop. Although we love what we do, the work load does overwhelm us at times. We are aware that this is our longest newsletter ever, but we hope you will find it of interest. We have more going on than ever before and we do wish to keep you informed.
Photographs/Travels: Tuscany 2000
Once again we shipped our Land Rover to Europe and photographed in Tuscany in the late spring. We revisited places we had been to last year and explored many new ones. As a result, we have many fine new photographs.
One highlight of our trip was a sojourn on the island of Elba. We had been invited, through a photographer friend in Berlin, to meet and be the guest of his friend, a German photographer, Hans Berger, at his part-time domicile, the Eremo di Santa Catarina which is an ancient hermitage that sits high on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean. Hans, who is also a writer, humanitarian, conservationist, and preservationist, was given possession of the hermitage by the bishops of the Catholic Church for a period of sixty years. In exchange for preserving and caring for the monastery, he is allowed do with it as he wishes, so he created an artist's retreat, a botanical herb garden for indigenous and endangered native plants, a safe haven for birds that were near extinction, and rose gardens of over fifty varieties.
We slept in a 13th Century room where the hermit monks had slept, and the room directly below us dated to 600 B.C. Archeologists have studied the tombs of the Phoenicians and Etruscans buried beneath the Eremo's floors, then covered the graves over again to remain undisturbed. The Eremo remains as authentic as possible with no electricity, no hot water, no telephone. As an artist's retreat, we can think of nothing finer-abounding beauty, artist-made objects given as gifts in homage to the deep inspirations gained there, and divine solitude and quietness. Our time at Santa Catarina and all of Elba was extraordinary and magical, a place we will surely return to.
Some of our photographs made at the Eremo di Santa Catarina will be included in a book that Hans will be publishing that includes many of the artists who have worked there.
In Looking at Photographs, John Szarkowski wrote, "The genuinely creative period of most photographers has rarely exceeded ten or fifteen years." That sentence has always served as a challenge to us. I have been photographing for almost thirty-five years and in the last year Paula exceeded that baleful number of fifteen. The way we work (using large view cameras and making only contact prints) remains constant and is based on our feeling for and relationship to the real world. It is not based on "ideas" or concepts. Although we work within narrow limits technically, neither of us want to repeat ourselves as we make new photographs; we want to keep fresh and to continue to extend our genuinely creative period. And because of all of the photographs we have made in past years, keeping our vision fresh is not easy. (It's not as if we try to be different each year, it just happens). Were you to look at our photographs year by year, you would find something different each year in the way we see the world, although this difference is generally subtle rather than radical. There are, of course, some photographs that could have been made in any number of years, but there is always some change. We like to think that it reflects personal growth. As e.e. cummings said in six nonlectures, "...an artist...whose every agony is to grow."
Many of Paula's new photographs from Tuscany, whether of things in the landscape or buildings, use blocks of tone in a way they haven't before. They immediately brought the paintings of Hans Hofmann to mind. If there is any foreshadowing of these photographs in her earlier work it would be the photographs of her collages she made a couple of years ago, something she continues to work on.
My photographs of the Tuscan landscape appear to have evolved from my use of line, and, in their essence, are quite unlike Paula's photographs that use blocks of tone. I believe they synthesize my previous work and are among the finest photographs I have ever made.
Photographs/Travels: 2001 and beyond
Last year we wrote that we planned to photograph in Iceland in 2001. Plans have changed and instead we'll be returning to work in Tuscany, this time to photograph in the fall. Iceland is now on the schedule for 2002.
Because we've enjoyed our two Tuscany trips so much, we've decided to try to go somewhere overseas every year. We have quite a list of countries we would like to photograph including (but not limited to): France (Provence in particular), New Zealand, Morocco, Namibia, Chile, and Turkey. We only hope we live long enough to do it all.
Other Photographing: Our collaboration (secret until now)
Between us we have photographed extensively in natural, rural, and urban landscapes and we have made portraits. What we hadn't done was the still-life. Now we've done that, too.
During the summer of 1998 we visited Longwood Gardens, a former DuPont estate and one of the foremost gardens/arboretums/conservatories in the United States. Although we went there just to see these extraordinary gardens, and not to photograph, one room in particular struck us-the Bonsai room in the conservatory, and I said that I wanted to photograph the Bonsai trees and Paula said that she did, too. Since we figured that in all likelihood we might make similar photographs, we decided to photograph the Bonsai collaboratively. This collaboration is a first for us.
We photographed the Bonsai trees in 1999, again in 2000, and will finish this spring. When photographing, we make all decisions jointly. So far we have had no serious conflicts about that, nor do we anticipate any. Printing, however, is another matter. We want this photography collaboration to enhance, not destroy, our personal collaboration-our marriage-so only one of us is doing the printing-the stronger willed one. Surprise-it's Paula.
With the Bonsai photographs we will be doing something quite unusual for us. In addition to our gelatin silver chloride contact prints, we will be making enlargements-and in processes other than silver. Salto, the Belgian printer of our new books, has developed a new printing process, the Saltotype, which is a combination of silk screen and offset printing. They are something very special and we'll produce them in limited editions. We will have samples of the Saltotypes with us on our forthcoming trip. Also through Salto, we are considering making limited editions of enlarged platinum prints.
We will also publish a book, The Bonsai of Longwood Gardens, and we are planning a traveling exhibition of the photographs.
Publishing: Books in 2000
Last year, in late fall, Lodima Press (that's us) published two new books—Michael's The Students of Deep Springs College, and Passage: Europe by Richard Copeland Miller. Both books were printed in Belgium by Salto and the reproductions are the finest we have ever seen. For these books we had anticipated printing in 600-line screen tritone. As we mentioned last year, we had seen tritone press proofs from Salto that were astounding. But when we got to Belgium we learned that Salto had decided that the reproductions would not be printed in 600-line screen tritone after all, but would be in 600-line screen quadtone! (Passage: Europe is printed in both tritone and quadtone.) These books truly do set a new standard in the reproduction of black and white photographs.
The Students of Deep Springs College stemmed from Michael's six-week teaching stint in 1995 at Deep Springs College, the two-year, all-male college that is possibly the best one in America. Through Michael's fifty insightful portraits of the twenty-five students, the students' writing, the essay by L. Jackson Newell, President of Deep Springs, and the afterword by the noted author and former Deep Springs student, William T. Vollmann, the story of this amazing college is revealed to a wide public for the first time.
Passage: Europe by Richard Copeland Miller, with a foreword by the Pulitzer-Prize winning poet, Philip Levine, is our first venture in publishing another photographer's work. Unlike our large-format sharp-focussed full-scale photographs, Miller's photographs are made rapidly with a 35mm camera and have a tonal scale very different from ours. Not only do the photographs in Passage: Europe form a beautiful and moving lyric poem but it is physically one of the most beautiful books we have seen in recent years. In the words of its first reviewer, "These pictures are the still, sad music of humanity made visible."
Publishing: Future Books
We had planned to publish The Bonsai of Longwood Gardens this year and to publish our Tuscany photographs next year, but our schedule is so full that both may get pushed back. Our books on Tuscany will be a "his and hers" two-volume set—Paula's 8x10s in Volume I and my 8x20s in Volume II, and it is possible that the Tuscany books will be released ahead of the Bonsai book.
Among other books we have planned, Michael has a planned book of photographs of trees made with the 8x20 camera that we might publish this year. And Paula has a cookbook in the works—a relatively long-term undertaking—that will be illustrated with her photographs of kitchens.
Richard Copeland Miller has been photographing in Vietnam this year and is at work on a book of those photographs. We expect to publish it in 2002.
A number of other photographers have approached us about publishing their books and at the moment we are seriously considering one of them, a book of photographs and writing by an Australian photographer.
Publishing: Note Cards
We have just published our first in a series of note cards in limited editions: Michael A. Smith: Note Card Set One and Paula Chamlee: Note Card Set One. They were printed by Salto, and, like our new books, printed in the heretofore unimagined 600-line screen quadtone. They were published in a limited edition of only 1,000 sets. Note Card Set One, for each of us, consists of four of our photographs of the natural landscape. Each boxed set has twelve cards (three cards of each photograph). We both plan to publish a new set every year. They will surely be collector's items and we encourage you to get them while they last. Enclosed with this newsletter are cards showing all of the photographs in these first sets, an order form, and a random card from one of the sets. We are currently taking orders, but delivery will not be until April.
Publishing: Black and White Magazine
Black and White is a new magazine in the world of photography devoted to the collecting of fine black and white photographs. It has been in circulation since the spring of 1999. We heard about it after the first issue was published and learned that the editor and publisher, Henry Rasmussen, encourages advertising by individual photographers. Since the second issue, we have advertised our photographs in Black and White. We have a two-page spread (pages 3 and 4) and publish different photographs in each issue. (We will publish some of the first ones again as the reproductions were poor in the early issues.) We had hoped that readers would follow our work and look forward to it in the way that one would look forward to a favorite column in a newspaper or magazine. And we are learning that that has happened. Our ads were even mentioned in a letter to the editor as an example of the high quality in the magazine that the writer looked forward to.
Black and White, published bi-monthly, consists mostly of features on individual photographers as well as a few columns. It has become a fine publication that gets better with each issue. They had a particularly fine and lengthy feature about Brett Weston in issue #8. The next issue will be #11. We have met Henry and admire his great enthusiasm, creativity, and enterprising nature. If you don't already know this new magazine we encourage you to look into it. You can subscribe by calling 805-474-6633 or by writing to Black and White Magazine, P.O. Box 700, Arroyo Grande, CA 93421. We spoke with Henry and asked if he would send a free copy to anyone who called if they mentioned that they had learned about it in this newsletter—and he agreed to do so.
Publishing: View Camera Magazine
A series of Paula's portraits from High Plains Farm was published in the March/April issue of View Camera along with some of her original text. And we both had photographs published in the September/October issue—photographs from the exhibition, The Big Picture: Ultra Large-Format Photography at the Salt Lake Art Center in Salt Lake City. Text was by Lance Duffin, curator.
Paula published another portfolio in 2000, A Field in Tuscany. It consists of eight photographs made in an oat field in the Chianti region, and is limited to an edition of ten. Brochures for the portfolio are available; let us know if you'd like one sent to you.
In 2001, Michael will be publish a portfolio, The Stone Walls of Monteriggioni. It will contain six photographs of the remarkable and varied stone walls of this tiny walled Medieval town near Siena, and will be limited to an edition of ten.
Mammoth Camera Workshop: We taught a six-day workshop in Salt Lake City in the summer of 2000 (as we had done in 1999), where we were again the featured instructors (this time along with Lois Conner). This workshop, organized by the photographer Tillman Crane and sponsored by the Waterford Institute, offered participants the opportunity to work with view cameras from 8x10 up to 20x24. It was a huge success and we will be teaching there again in 2001. For information, contact Tillman Crane at 801-576-4914.
Vision and Technique Workshops: These are the intermediate-to-advanced weekend workshops we teach here at our home/studio in Bucks County. Last year we had planned to do only one of them in March but since it filled up immediately, we did a second one the following weekend. That also filled quickly and we had such a long waiting list that we agreed to do another two on successive weekends in August. We are amazed and delighted that participants have come from as far as California, England, and Germany.
These intense weekend sessions are designed to be "the last workshop you will ever need." For 2001 we have scheduled three workshops: May 18-20, May 25-27, and August 17-19. We limit enrollment in each workshop to only eight participants. Contact us if you are interested.
Writing: Michael's articles
Michael's newest article for View Camera magazine, which appeared this fall, "Advances in Archival Mounting and Storage", is creating quite a stir. It is about a new type of mat boards and storage boxes that enables them to protect photographs and all other works on paper far better than the standard 100% all-rag acid-free museum board. Rarely does a new technological breakthrough occur that absolutely and forever renders accepted standards in a field obsolete. Even more rarely does one of those breakthroughs so directly affect our photographs. The article includes an interview with the inventor, Bill Hollinger.
This information is so important to photographers and to those who collect photographs that we'll include here a brief summary of the article:
In the early 1970s, the standard for mounting and overmatting photographs became the use of 100% all-rag acid-free museum board. This type of board—still used today by nearly all photographers—is a passive and neutral board, one that does not break down and harm the photographs, and when buffered with an alkaline, one that effectively neutralizes acids. It was long thought that this type of board was sufficient to prevent deterioration of photographs and other works on paper mounted and overmatted with it.
But in recent years the U.S. National Bureau of Standards found that this is not the case. They have discovered that pollutants other than acids readily pass through 100% all-rag, acid-free museum board, whether alkaline buffered or not, causing severe damage to the paper or artwork mounted on them. They found that while acids that either migrate to or arise from within the storage container as a by-product of deterioration are neutralized when they come in contact with the alkaline buffer, highly reactive oxidative gases such as ozone and peroxides, and pollutants such as sulfur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen, which do not become sulfuric or nitric acid until they combine with oxygen and water, are not neutralized by ordinary archival papers and boards.
To overcome this problem, Bill Hollinger, who for many years has been in the forefront in developing archival materials, invented MicroChamber® technology. MicroChamber® boards and papers contain various molecular traps and alkaline buffers that actively trap pollutants. In the interview, Bill said that extensive laboratory testing showed that when photographs were exposed to pollutants, those protected by conventional buffered or non-buffered museum boards were completely destroyed, while the photographs protected by a MicroChamber® product were totally unaffected.
This was such important information that Michael just had to see for himself and sent his photographs and those of David Graham, a color photographer, to the lab for testing. The results were astonishing. Those photographs that were mounted or hinged on conventional 100% all-rag acid-free museum board were ruined, while the photographs mounted on ArtCare™ board (ArtCare™ is the trade name under which MicroChamber® products are sold) were perfect.
Ever since we learned of ArtCare™ boards a number of years ago, it is all we have used for mounting our photographs. (Surprisingly, the lab test showed that dry-mounted prints were better protected than hinged ones, even with conventional 100% all-rag, acid-free museum board. It appears that the dry mounting tissue provides an additional layer of protection from pollutants.)
Although ArtCare™ products have been available for some time through frame shops and art-supply stores, they have not been readily available to photographers. To remedy this situation, we were able to convince an existing business (the book bindery that bound Michael's two-volume set of Landscapes 1975-1979) to form a new division—Superior Archival Materials—to offer ArtCare™ mount board and storage materials to the greater photography community. They provide both standard and custom sizes for mount board and for print and negative storage materials. In addition, they will provide custom-cut overmats. If you would like more information, their toll-free phone number is 1-888-857-1722 and their web site address is www.superiorarchivalmats.com.
Superior Archival Materials is reprinting copies of Michael's article, which contain reproductions of the astonishing tests. If you would like a copy, give them a call. Tell them you learned about it here and they'll send you one.
Web Site: (www.michaelandpaula.com)
Our web site, oh, our web site. We still do not have photographs up yet. One of these days we will. We're told by those who visit that they like the site for the other things it has, but it does need the photographs. This seems to be the one area of our lives for which there is simply not enough time. The database for the photographs is overwhelming. We will get to it. We will.
We are completely out of room here. There is no place to store additional photographs and not even a shelf on which to put another book. So amidst everything else going on, we began building two large additions last year. They'll include more storage space, a second darkroom, much larger work and studio space, a painting studio for Paula, and a proper guest suite. With any luck we'll get the additions completed by the end of this year.
Last summer we were interviewed and photographed by a couple doing a book about couples who live and work together. They are interviewing couples from many different fields, and although we did not previously know them, they told us that we were one of the first couples they thought of. They happened to come to the East Coast during the time of a visit by Paula's parents, a farming couple who have lived and worked together for sixty years, and they interviewed them, too. We think it will be a great book and look forward to its publication.
Many of you have requested updates on our print prices for your records. This addendum also provides information about our books, exhibition catalogues, portfolios, note cards, posters, and (singular) video. Please note that there have been some changes to prices and remaining quantities and there have been some additions. These are all denoted with an asterisk.
PHOTOGRAPHS: Silver Chloride Contact Prints
We are making so many new photographs and seem to be doing so much else that we simply have less time to print our old work. We are therefore instituting a two-tier price structure. All photographs that we consider to be "older" (at this time that means photographs dated pre-1999) will be priced higher than our current photographs (at this time that means photographs from 1999 and 2000). This is a prelude to all older photographs being individually priced by image. (Michael has already been doing this with photographs made in 1975 and earlier.) Each year we expect that the photographs that fall into the "older" category will change by one year, although that is not fixed. We may consider certain work "current" for more than two years or we may consider it to be current for only one year. Here are our prices:
Current photographs (1999 and 2000-no change from last year):
Michael: 8 x 10 $1,250 Paula: 8 x 10 $800
8 x 20 $1,500 5 x 7 $600
8 x 22 $2,500 4 x 5 $600
Older photographs (pre-1999):
Michael: 8 x 10 $1,500 Paula: 8 x 10 $1,000
8 x 20 $1,800 5 x 7 $750
8 x 22 $3,000 4 x 5 $750
Michael is no longer printing negatives made prior to 1976. His remaining 8" x 10" photographs made in 1975 or earlier are individually priced by image, starting at $1,800 and going to $10,000.
The price for Michael's 2' x 5' enlargements, made directly from his 8" x 20" negatives, has gone to $4,000 except for one print for which half the edition has sold. That print is priced at $6,000.
BOOKS and CATALOGUES:
Landscapes 1975-1979: Only nineteen sets remain of Michael's first book, printed in a signed and numbered, limited edition of 600 two-volume sets. We expect they will be gone in the not-too-distant future. Landscapes 1975-1979, with an original photograph as the frontispiece, letterpress text, and tipped-in plates, is a rare and beautiful set of books for fine book and photography collectors. Published in 1981, and with an essay by James Enyeart, it was awarded "Best Photography Book of the Year" at the International Festival of Photography in Arles, France. This set is now priced at $1,250 (plus $10 S & H). Only 19 sets remain. The price will go up to $1,500 when only fifteen sets remain and will be raised $250 each time five sets are sold.
Landscapes 1975-1979: An exhibition catalogue with the same title (and essay) as the book, but with different reproductions (12). Published in 1981. Very rare; fewer than fifteen copies remain. $35 (plus $3.50 S & H). At this time we will only sell up to five more copies.
Michael A. Smith: A Visual Journey: Photographs From Twenty-Five Years: Published in 1992, this book accompanied Michael's twenty-five year retrospective exhibition at the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House. Foreword by Marianne Fulton. Essay by John Bratnober. 176 duotone reproductions. $85 (plus $6 S & H). Signed and numbered slipcased limited edition: $250 (plus $6 S & H).
Princeton: An exhibition catalogue with five reproductions and an essay by Richard Trenner. Published in 1985. Rare; only thirty copies remain. $20 (plus $3.50 S & H).
Natural Connections: Photographs by Paula Chamlee: Published in 1994 and Paula's first book-photographs of the natural landscape accompanied by selected writings from her journals and an essay by Estelle Jussim. Printed in Laser Silver-Lit Tones?, 42 tritone reproductions. $60 (plus $6 S & H). Signed and numbered slipcased limited edition: $200 (plus $6 S & H).
High Plains Farm: Published in 1996, a book of Paula's photographs and writing about the farm where she grew up on the High Plains of the Texas Panhandle. Foreword by George Thompson. 81 duotone reproductions. $70 (plus $6 S & H). Signed and numbered slipcased limited edition: $200 (plus $6 S & H).
San Francisco: Twenty Corner Markets and One in the Middle of the Block: Paula's third book, published in 1997. Printed in a signed and numbered limited edition of only 550 copies, 21 duotone reproductions and hand-tipped plate on the cover. $50 (plus $6 S & H). The Collectors Edition, of which only three copies remain, comes with your choice of any photograph in the book for only $500 (plus $25 S & H).
The Students of Deep Springs College: A book about the most unusual college in America. Michael's newest book, published in 2000. Essay by L. Jackson Newell. Afterword by William T. Vollmann. 53 reproductions printed in 600-line screen quadtone. $50 (plus $6 S & H). Signed and numbered slipcased limited edition: $200 (plus $6 S & H).
A Field in Tuscany: An edition of ten portfolios self-published in 2000, each containing eight 8" x 10" photographs archivally mounted and overmatted, and two sheets of deckle edged Arches paper printed letterpress. The portfolio comes in a handmade box covered in heavy textured linen. $3,500.
San Francisco: Twenty Corner Markets and One in the Middle of the Block: An edition of three portfolios self-published in 1997, each containing twenty-one 8" x 10" photographs archivally mounted and overmatted, and three sheets of deckle edged Arches paper printed letterpress. The portfolio comes in a handmade box covered in heavy Italian linen. $10,500.
High Plains Farm: A Unique Portfolio: An edition of fifteen portfolios self-published in 1996, each containing twelve photographs archivally mounted and overmatted, and four sheets of deckle edged Arches paper printed letterpress. Each purchaser chooses their twelve favorites from the entire High Plains Farm series. The portfolio comes in a handmade box covered in heavy Italian linen. This portfolio is now sold out.
The Stone Walls of Monteriggioni: An edition of ten portfolios to be self-published in 2001, each containing six 8" x 20" photographs archivally mounted and overmatted, and three sheets of deckle edged Arches paper printed letterpress. The portfolio will come in a handmade box covered in heavy textured linen. $4,500.
Eight Landscape Photographs: An edition of twenty portfolios plus two artist's proofs published by Regnis Press in 1983, each containing eight 8" x 20" photographs archivally mounted and overmatted, and two sheets of deckle edged Arches paper printed letterpress. The portfolio comes in a handmade box covered in heavy linen. Upon completion of this portfolio, the negatives were retired; no further prints were made from them. $12,000.
Twelve Photographs 1967-1969: Self published in 1970 in an edition of twenty-five, this portfolio contains a representative selection of Michael's work from this period. The 8" x 10" archivally mounted photographs and two sheets of Arches paper printed letterpress come in a custom-made portfolio case covered in heavy linen. $20,000.
Michael A. Smith: Note Card Set One and Paula Chamlee: Note Card Set One: Two sets of note cards, one set from each of us. Printed by Salto in 600-line screen quadtone. Both sets have three cards of each of four photographs of the natural landscape, making twelve cards altogether. Each boxed set includes twelve envelopes. Both sets are limited to an edition of only 1,000. $19.95 for the first set, and $16.95 for each additional set ($3.50 S & H for one set plus $2 for each additional set).
The four High Plains Farm posters are exquisitely printed in 300 line-screen duotone on heavy cover stock and were run through the press an additional and fourth time for extra luster and brilliance. Size: 19" x 26" for three of the posters and 19" x 27" for the fourth. Posters: $25 each or $80 for all four. A limited edition of signed and numbered posters is also available at $50 each or $125 for all four. We will send reproductions of the four images upon request. For posters, add $6 S & H.
The PBS half-hour documentary film, High Plains Farm: Paula Chamlee, produced by KACV-TV is available from us for only $25 (plus $2.50 S & H)