Just About to Step into the Bus for the Assembly Center - Photo by Dorothea Lange. Printed by Seth Dickerman

Reimagining Dorothea Lange

Dorothea Lange has come to Dickerman Prints

Dorothea Lange (May 26, 1895 – October 11, 1965) was an American documentary photographer and photojournalist, best known for her Depression-era work for the Farm Security Administration (FSA). Lange's photographs influenced the development of documentary photography and humanized the consequences of the Great Depression.[1]

Recently, the Oakland Museum of California commissioned us to create new prints for their permanent Dorothea Lange collection. As a starting point, the museum sent us high-resolution scans of the original negatives. The rest was up to Seth Dickerman: Master Printer and lab founder.

Gas Station, Kern County, California (Lettuce Strike) - Photo by Dorothea Lange. Printed by Seth Dickerman
Gas Station, Kern County, California (Lettuce Strike) - Photo by Dorothea Lange. Printed by Seth Dickerman

 

Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California - Photo by Dorothea Lange. Printed by Seth Dickerman
Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California - Photo by Dorothea Lange. Printed by Seth Dickerman

 

One Nation Indivisible, San Francisco - Photo by Dorothea Lange. Printed by Seth Dickerman
One Nation Indivisible, San Francisco - Photo by Dorothea Lange. Printed by Seth Dickerman

 

Restaurant Segregation, Mississippi - Photo by Dorothea Lange. Printed by Seth Dickerman
Restaurant Segregation, Mississippi - Photo by Dorothea Lange. Printed by Seth Dickerman

 

Just About to Step into the Bus for the Assembly Center - Photo by Dorothea Lange. Printed by Seth Dickerman
Just About to Step into the Bus for the Assembly Center - Photo by Dorothea Lange. Printed by Seth Dickerman

 

Woman standing in front of Richmond Cafe - Photo by Dorothea Lange. Printed by Seth Dickerman
Woman standing in front of Richmond Cafe - Photo by Dorothea Lange. Printed by Seth Dickerman

 

When I edit these, I imagine that Dorothea Lange is my client. My goal is to use her vision to create something entirely new. ... something that she would approve of.

~ Seth Dickerman


CURRENCY: by Seth Dickerman

CURRENCY
a pop-up exhibition

Large-format photographic prints by Seth Dickerman

ON DISPLAY THROUGH MARCH 16

1141 Howard Street, SF

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About the Work

The coins and bills from which these portraits were photographed are history books in disguise.  They bear witness to change: physical, historical and philosophical.  Our perception of these presidents has changed over time, as have these artifacts which carry their images.

These images have traveled a circuitous path.  Each began as a portrait drawn, painted, or photographed directly from their living subject.  These portraits were then rendered, as line drawings for bills, or as sculptural reliefs for coins.

These renderings were then greatly reduced, and used to make printing plates or minting dyes, which were subsequently used to produce the bills and coins.  They were endowed with monetary value, and sent out into the world.

They have been passed from person to person, place to place, past to present. Spent and saved, gained and lost, each has been marked by its own unfathomable journey.


Currency was featured in the SF Chronicle

 

Technical Information - a Journey Continued

The coins and bills were photographed at extremely high magnification with a 4x5” view camera and black and white film (the coin an inch or two in front of the camera lens, and the film as much as 16” behind the lens).  A miniature spotlight was positioned with the sharply focused filament of the bulb grazing the surface of the coin.  The slight ridge on the edge of the coin created the initial shadow, allowing the features of the portrait to be lit in bright relief.  The portraits on the bills were made the same way, with the light source less sharply focused.

The resulting 4x5” negatives were then projected by means of a photographic enlarger to make 20x24” silver gelatin prints.  These prints were subsequently scanned digitally and enlarged again to make the archival pigment prints in this exhibition.  In the case of the 40x50” prints, the bills have been enlarged by 3,500%, and the coins have been enlarged by ratios from 6000% to 10,000%.  At this scale the coins would average 6 feet in diameter,  and the bills would be nearly 8 feet tall by 18 feet wide.

Artist’s Statement

My interest in images of presidents began in childhood.  In the early 1960’s, iconic images of  American presidents were ubiquitous.  We didn’t have the constant stream of dramatic imagery then that we have now - there were fewer idols, fewer heroes.

The Presidency was generally respected and celebrated. It was a simpler and more optimistic time in America.  By the 1960's much changed.  The Viet Nam war raged on, and Richard Nixon was president.  I began photographing Nixon from television and newspapers and have been exploring presidential imagery ever since.

The seed of this particular project was planted on a spring day in 1986, when I was struck by the dignity of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s portrait on a silver dime.

This was during the administration of Ronald Reagan, whose cheerful portraits seemed to me to be those of a fictional character, at best. I decided then to photograph FDR on his dime, in part to illustrate the contrast with Reagan.

The tainted election of a smirking George W. Bush in 2000 brought what one might have thought to be the ultimate insult to the institution of the presidency.  I began to look more deeply at the presidents on our currency - a rather obvious link between money and power.  I made the 10 photographs in this series, printing them as 20x24” silver-gelatin prints.

I had thought the project finished - until the shocking and tainted election of Donald Trump in 2016 induced me to revisit the project.

I have used digital tools to go deeper into the work, by exposing greater detail, by increasing scale, and by further manipulating light and shadow in ways that I could not do in the darkroom.

When the 20x24’s were first shown in San Francisco, in 2000, it did not strike me as especially significant that these images of presidents were all of white men.  Today, 19 years later, the significance of this is painfully apparent. Despite setbacks, much progress has been made since then - and we clearly have good reason to believe that a female presidency is at last in sight.

May we recover from this benighted administration, and learn from our past!

Seth Dickerman
January, 2019

 


Forage From Fire - an interview with Norma Quintana

Tragedy struck Northern California in 2017 when the Atlas Peak Wildfire ripped through Napa County. Entire communities were reduced to piles of ash and precious family treasures were lost forever.

For photographer Norma Quintana, the remnants of her home provided a stark backdrop for mourning, healing, and a fascinating series of images.

Norma’s Forage From Fire series features photographs of her charred personal items, set against the black gloves that first-responders used to sift through the rubble.

Recently, we sat down with Norma to chat about her incredible career as a photographer, printing her work at Dickerman Prints, and her exhibition at SF Camerawork.

What was the first camera you remember using?

As far as I can remember, I had a camera on me all the time and recall having a 35mm KODAK INSTAMATIC 104 camera.  Color of course!

How did your love of photography grow?

My academic background is in Sociology.  I obtained a post graduate degree in the social science and justice.  I share this because my interest has always been in gathering and analyzing evidence.  Photography was a natural fit for me as I began to document.

I learned the craft of photography class by class, shot 35 mm, black and white then moved on to a medium format camera. The Forage From Fire was done with the iPhone camera and is my first ever digital and color body of work.  The learning curve has been dramatic.

What is the most impactful photograph you've ever created?

Such a great question! I would say the Forage From Fire Glove image with a burned camera.

You studied under Mary Ellen Mark, Graciela Iturbide, Sally Mann, and Shelby Lee Adams. How does their tutelage influence your photography today?

I learned a great deal from these icons! So many lessons!  Graciela Iturbide taught me compassion, Shelby Lee Adams: dedication and commitment to a project and Mary Ellen Mark, grit.  Sally Mann shared her wisdom.

What led you to co-found PhotoAlliance and how are you still involved with the organization today?

I had wanted to create and support a photography culture in the Bay Area. I was on the Board of Directors for up to 10 years and attend their amazing lecture series.  It is a jewel in the art community. (learn more about Photo Alliance here)

Your Forage From Fire series has gained a lot of media attention, and is currently featured in an exhibition at SF Camerawork.

Before jumping into the work itself, would you be willing to share a personal story from the Atlas Peak wildfire (that has nothing to do with photography)?

Prior to the fire I had been consumed by Hurricane Maria.  My immediate family is from Puerto Rico.  As life would have it, I had been trying to reach my aunt and cousin who live on the island and had not been successful. I was on high alert.

On the day I learned that we had lost my home and studio of over 25 years to the firestorm, I received a call from my aunt who was worried for my safety.  I learned she was safe and I shared that I had lost my home.  My aunt sent her blessings.

Forage From Fire is an incredibly personal project, focusing on personal items that were rescued from your home and studio. Can you share a bit of your inspiration for the series?

The creation of Forage From Fire was uber organic and unplanned!  It was so innate in me to forage for recognizable items on the burned site. I remember thinking …. this is my personal 9-11. I was not really inspired but more compelled to document. The loss was about home.

How did you choose which objects to feature?

All the objects were found with the use of a sifter.  In my home I was the collector … so I knew the genesis of my physical world.  Also, I focused on what would fit with a glove.

You used an iPhone X to create the images in Forage From Fire. As someone who traditionally uses film as your medium, can you describe the experience of using such a different camera?

I have always believed that creating images is not about the camera!  With that in mind, I would say that the issue for me was the use of color.  Also, it is the first time I created work digitally.

Can you describe your process and setup for creating the images in Forage From Fire?

I foraged using a industrial respirator mask and a sifter created for me by a volunteer in a winery.  They knew there was going to be demand for people who were looking through their wreckage.  I recall finding artifacts and immediately wanting to photographed them and upon my return to the temporary home I was in… started to photograph as I always do… with available light .

There's a certain beauty in the contrast of your burned treasures against a black rubber glove. How did that concept come to be? Was everyone given those gloves when they returned to their home, or did you borrow a few from the cleanup crew?

The gloves were given to me by first responders.  We were all given masks and masks!  Initially, there was extensive smoke and everything destroyed.

You mention that your project has had a deep impact on those recovering from the trauma of the fire. Can you describe how that impact manifests itself?

I have heard from so many people that they find the images both staggering and hopeful… some even said liberating.  I believe they see a person who lost everything and had a story to tell.

I have heard from strangers across the world… via social media platforms.  I have also received art books and prints from people who I have somehow touched with Forage From Fire.

 Seth Dickerman and Norma Quintana go through Forage From Fire test prints. Seth Dickerman and Norma Quintana go through Forage From Fire test prints.

You have been working closely with Dickerman Prints to prepare your images for the Camerawork exhibition. Can you describe what that process has been like?

Working with Seth, Gabriel, and Garnell are my dream team. I knew I was in great hands when I learned they had started in the dark room. They approach the work as artisans.

Thanks again for your time. Before we go, do you have any words of wisdom for photographers starting their careers?

  • Remember that photographs are not taken they are created!

  • Try everything: photojournalism, landscape, portraiture etc.

  • Study the work of other photographers.

  • Get your hands on photo artbooks.

  • Learn the craft of photography.

  • Photograph when you have something to say.

 Gabriel Aguilar and Norma Quintana with a framed print from Forage From Fire. Gabriel Aguilar and Norma Quintana with a framed print from Forage From Fire.

Forage From Fire debuts at SF Camerawork on October 4. Learn more here.

To view more of Norma’s work, visit normaiquintana.com


The Power of Self-Representation: Deirdre Visser and Skywatchers

Dickerman Prints is grateful for the opportunity to have collaborated with the Skywatchers project - a multi-disciplinary endeavor that brings to light the complex interaction of social, political and economic forces in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood.

After printing a series of self-portraits for a recent Skywatchers exhibition, we had the pleasure of chatting with Deirdre Visser - Director of Community Engagement for Skywatchers, local Bay Area educator and curator at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). Her latest project, "I am a Skywatcher, Too," communicates the stories of different subjects through self portraits.

To make the project as approachable as possible, Deirdre kept her setup simple — a white sheet in the corner of the Luggage Story Gallery and a digital camera on a tripod.

After helping set the proper exposure, Deirdre would hand off the remote control shutter release and let her subjects become the photographer. Then, once they had created a collection of images, Deirdre would show them the photos and let them choose their favorites for printing.

 Deirdre Visser with the self portrait series  Deirdre Visser with the self portrait series


What does this project ultimately mean to you personally and how exactly did you get involved? 

"I got involved in the Tenderloin about 5 years ago through Anne Bluethenthal's Skywatchers program, an awesome multidisciplinary performance project in which neighborhood residents — particularly folks who live in Community Housing Partnership sites — work collaboratively with professional artists to create works that draw on the histories and concerns of the residents. Anne is a colleague and a dear friend, and Artistic Director of ABD Productions/Skywatchers. I started coming to Skywatcher events as the official photographer and as I got more involved in the program, I started helping with strategic planning and organizational development, but all of those processes are rooted in the Skywatcher community.

Two years ago I did a portrait project with Skywatcher participants, but in that case — though they chose their favorites, and wrote accompanying text pieces about what it means to be seen, and what passersby don't see — it was me making the photographs. It was always clear that the next step was to create the structure in which they would make self-portraits.

While I feel very much a part of this community in some ways, and love the collaborative work we do and the relationships we build, I don't have to daily confront the very deep challenges of the neighborhood."


How did you get people to participate?

"Over three weeks before Christmas and Hanukkah, I opened up the space at Ellis and Leavenworth and invited neighbors to come make a portrait. We gave them an 8x10 print, and promised that all would be represented in a late January exhibition.

I often headed out onto the streets of Ellis and Leavenworth, asking people to come into the gallery and take a photo ... welcoming anyone that wanted to participate. I also set up the same sheet, camera, and tripod scenario for the gallery's holiday party - and that inspired a few group portraits that became apart of the series."


What kind of post work was done?

"Hardly any, if at all. Most of the time, I would send the images off to Seth Dickerman and let him work his magic with the images. " -Deirdre Visser

"This was a wonderful project to print.  These are very moving self portraits by people who do not normally have the means or wherewithal to have their portraits made at all. I was happy to use my skills to print these portraits with the care and attention which they deserve. I wanted them all to be heroes!" -Seth Dickerman, Photographic Printer


Besides Rita, is there anyone else you built a special connection with in particular? Or, did you become close with all your subjects? 

"I have an especially close relationship with Rita because I was in a position to help her navigate the health system at a crucial juncture in her life. It was a very intimate time over many months, as medical advocacy can be. While I love and respect many of the other Skywatcher ensemble members, Rita and I are a special case."


Do you believe that this project brings positive light to a community that is often ignored and associated with negative affiliations? ( ex. the Tenderloin is referred to as one of the roughest areas of SF )

"Folks who hold power in our society are much more able to control their own representation; my desire is to create the framework for everyone to have an opportunity to represent themselves. For this project I stood out on the sidewalk and invited neighbors to make a self-portrait in a very simple studio setting I created. Everyone got an 8x10, and through Seth's generosity, many participants got larger proof prints as well.

The Tenderloin is many things, and sometimes what's lost in the telling by those who don't live there is our shared humanity. I hope that viewers can see that in these images."


Do you have plans to continue this line of work or do you have another community building project in mind for the future?

"I don't yet have the next thing in mind, but I think we've started something that I'd like to build on. I also think there's room to consider a book project with these portraits, perhaps accompanied by their writing.

Next up on my plate with Skywatchers is a leadership training project which I am working with Anne and the Skywatcher team to design and implement. The intention is that participants increasingly take control of the program planning."

More About Skywatchers:

"More than five years ago Anne Bluethenthal and ABD Productions (ABD) initiated the Skywatchers project in collaboration with Community Housing Partnership (CHP) in order to engage formerly homeless residents of the Tenderloin in high quality creative experiences that illuminate their lives and stories.

The CHP residents, too often reduced to statistical data, become storytellers, co-creators, performers, and audience members—working in close collaboration with ABD dancers and associated artists.  The connectivity intrinsic to creative collaboration is helping participants build trust in each other, and nurturing the desire for self-efficacy.

The humanizing impact of sharing one’s own story, both to be heard and to see that story in a broader social context, creates the space for participating residents to imagine and manifest change."

Special Thanks to Darryl Smith at The Luggage Store for generously sharing the 509 Ellis space for both the shoot and the exhibition.


Dickerman Prints Gallery Presents: Wanderlust

WANDERLUST
a juried exhibition

WANDERLUST is a juried photographic exhibition featuring the work of 33 talented photographers. This was the call for entry:

For some, wanderlust manifests itself as an unquenchable thirst to explore life beyond your comfort zone. For others, it’s as simple as reading a book, taking a walk at lunch or going left instead of a right on the way to work. Wherever your wanderlust takes you - by foot, pedal, engine or “other” - we want to see it!

Click here for photos from the opening night reception on June 15, 2017.

“Not all those who wander are lost”

— JRR Tolkien

Printing Music's Biggest Legends at Dickerman Prints

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.

 Keith Richards Exits “The Starship” 1972 US Tour. Photograph by Ethan Russell Copyright: © Ethan Russell Keith Richards Exits “The Starship” 1972 US Tour. Photograph by Ethan Russell Copyright: © Ethan Russell

 

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.

 

 John Lennon and Yoko Ono “Cat” Photograph by Ethan Russell Copyright: © Yoko Ono. All rights reserved. Used with permission John Lennon and Yoko Ono “Cat” Photograph by Ethan Russell Copyright: © Yoko Ono. All rights reserved. Used with permission  Linda Ronstadt. “Hasten Down the Wind.” Malibu 1975. Photograph by Ethan Russell.         Copyright: © Ethan Russell Linda Ronstadt. “Hasten Down the Wind.” Malibu 1975. Photograph by Ethan Russell.         Copyright: © Ethan Russell

 

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.”

 

 Gabriel Agiular, Garnell Boyd, Seth Dickerman and Ethan Russell (left to right)  Gabriel Agiular, Garnell Boyd, Seth Dickerman and Ethan Russell (left to right)

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!

Click here to see more of Ethan Russell's work.

 

 Ethan Russell's photography - printed on Entrada Rag Bright and on display at the 501 Gallery in Sherwood Park, Canada Ethan Russell's photography - printed on Entrada Rag Bright and on display at the 501 Gallery in Sherwood Park, Canada  The Rangefinder article on Ethan's career and his collaboration with Seth Dickerman - as seen in the January 2017 issues The Rangefinder article on Ethan's career and his collaboration with Seth Dickerman - as seen in the January 2017 issues


wildLIFE - a Juried Photo Exhibition at Dickerman Prints Gallery

wildLIFE
a juried exhibition

wildLIFE is a juried photographic exhibition featuring the work of 23 talented Bay Area photographers. Each artist was invited to interpret the word "wildLIFE" in any way that resonated with them ... from the natural world to our everyday lives and everything in between.

Click here for photos from the opening night reception on December 15, 2016.


Client Spotlight: Ethan Russell

Ethan Russell is known as "the only rock photographer to have shot album covers for The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who." Gimme Shelter: Russell was on stage shooting during the infamous Rolling Stones 1969 concert at Altamont.

http://ethanrussell.com


Dickerman Prints Gallery Presents: 12,000 Years in the High Desert

Ancient and hidden petroglyphs, timeless landscapes, wild animals, indigenous tribes and North America’s oldest human settlements come together in Dennis Anderson’s latest photographic project.

OPENING RECEPTION

Thursday, April 21, 2016   6-9pm
1141 Howard Street, SF

12,000 years ago, humans had a symbiotic relationship with our world. Nature was sacred, the cosmos untouched and mysticism a part of everyday life. While modern progress has paved over most traces of that existence, pockets of early civilization remain scattered across North America.

Hidden in the high desert plateaus of south-central Oregon, Native American tribes live in harmony with the same flora and fauna that sustained the region’s first paleo peoples. They gaze up at the Milky Way with the same reverence, and now keep the locations of their sacred sites secret from wandering visitors.

It took years of building relationships before Dennis Anderson learned the exact locations of certain ancient cave drawings and ceremonial rings. When asked about the inspiration behind this long-term project, Anderson explains,

“The sites are well out of cell phone range … but definitely in range of something bigger. Standing on that ancient and unpopulated land, one feels a powerful connection to the universe and to our planet. Even if it only provides a glimpse into that world, it’s worth seeking out.”

12,000 Years in the High Desert features more than 50 fine art prints, each transporting the viewer to a simpler time of prairies, indigenous rituals, bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope and thousands of migratory waterfowl soaring across the sky.

OPENING RECEPTION

Dickerman Prints Gallery will host a public opening reception on Thursday, April 21st from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. at 1141 Howard Street, San Francisco.

The exhibition will remain open on weekdays through May 28, from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m, and on Saturdays from Noon – 6:00pm.

Click here to RSVP

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Named one of the 10 great hospitality photographers by Hospitality Design Magazine, Dennis Anderson is an internationally published tribal art, commercial and architectural photographer whose fine art photography resides in the permanent collections of both the New York and San Francisco Museums of Modern Art. Today, Anderson is still exploring the world with his camera … just as his mentor, Imogene Cunningham, encouraged him to do.

You can visit Dennis Anderson's Web site by clicking here.


Client Spotlight: Doug Hall

Doug Hall received his B.A. in 1966 from Harvard College where he studied Anthropology. In 1969 he received his MFA from the Rinehart School of Sculpture of The Maryland Institute, College of Art in Baltimore. In that same year he moved to San Francisco where he formed the media art collective, T.R. Uthco (1970-79), in collaboration with Jody Procter and Diane Andrews Hall. The group produced numerous works during the 1970’s. Notable among them is the videotape, The Eternal Frame, a reenactment of the assassination of John F. Kennedy done in collaboration with Ant Farm, another San Francisco based media arts collective.

Currently he is Visiting Artist at the California College of the Arts, San Francisco/Oakland where he works primarily with graduate students.