As one of rock ‘n’ roll’s preeminent photographers, Ethan Russell chronicled the everyday life of music’s most iconic faces: both on stage and off.
Ethan Russell's Career as a Rock & Roll Photographer
During a storied five-decade career, Russell photographed Janis Joplin, Eric Clapton, Paul Simon, k.d. lang, Audioslave, The Doors, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, to name a few. He also is the only artist to shoot album covers for The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who.
Astonishingly, much of Russell’s music photography went unseen for nearly 30 years. Only recently have these historic images been dusted off, scanned, restored and printed.
Long removed from his darkroom days, Russell now prints his iconic images at Dickerman Prints: a custom photo lab in San Francisco. By fusing digital technology with traditional darkroom techniques, the lab creates timeless prints on extraordinarily elegant papers.
Creating Timeless Photographic Prints With Seth Dickerman
Recently, Ethan Russell and Seth Dickerman sat down for an interview with Rangefinder Magazine. What follows is an excerpt from the article.
"Back in the days when Russell lived in England, he worked with a lab run by a father and son who did traditional gelatin silver prints. Years later when he moved back to San Francisco, he couldn’t find a local printer who could match the quality of their analog work. “It was always a struggle,” Russel recalls. Whenever he needed a print, he flew down to Los Angeles. Then, in 2011, he was introduced to Dickerman Prints, a full-service San Francisco lab founded in 1996 by Seth Dickerman, that had switched to digital process in 2007.
“I was nervous about it,” Russell says of trying digital prints. The first piece Dickerman produced for him was a 30x40” print of Keith Richards in rehearsal, a memorable shot. Richards was beyond pleased with the result. “As soon as I saw it,” he says, “I decided I could move away from analog printing.” He’s worked with Dickerman exclusively ever since.
“We work together, but Seth has a determination and patience that I sometimes lack,” Russell admits.
Russell is in the lab with Dickerman at least once a week, if not more. Depending on demand, Dickerman Prints may produce a single 8x10-inch print for a collector in a week, or up to 60 images for an exhibition.
“Seth will take an image and make it better. He understands the direct relationship between the digital file and the paper.”
Choosing the Perfect Paper for Ethan Russell's Rock Legends Photography
While preparing for a recent, Russell wanted something other than his typical framed or mounted prints. The weight of Entrada Rag Bright allowed his large-format photographs to be hung using magnets, while ensuring the print would not ripple when exposed to the elements.
This simple and elegant solution left the prints uncovered, allowing the viewer to truly appreciate the stunning images without distraction.
After seeing the results, Russell is excited to continue using Entrada Rag Bright for future shows. He especially loves how the paper brings out the best in both color and black and white photographs. The Beatles would certainly have approved!