I never considered how it might feel to share one of my photographs with someone else. I mean really share, in real three-dimensional life – it’s totally different to putting scans on the internet.
It’s weird. I feel exposed. I know that sounds obvious – especially since taking pictures is all about exposing – but I really hadn’t thought about it before. I know I put my photographs on my website and my Flickr page and tell anyone who will listen/read to go and look at them, but this is different. I don’t generally let people see my work in real life. Even most of my good real life friends haven’t seen my prints. It’s even more rare that I actually let people touch my photographs. And, it’s even less likely that I’d let anyone see, let alone touch one of my negatives.
Today I collected a 20×16″ black and white resin print made from one of my medium format negatives, by a complete stranger at the Metro Imaging lab in Clerkenwell. And it was weird. I felt sick when I took the negative in to the lab, but going back to collect both negative and print was far worse. It was a bit like giving away a little piece of me and giving someone a licence do what they wanted with it. I’ve never let anyone else print from one of my negatives before.
So, when I eventually got the print home and got over the shock at seeing one of my photographs enlarged to such a triumphant size, in all it’s black and white glory, and realised that it had been printed back-to-front, I was a bit ruffled.
I now feel used – or, a bit like I’ve been cheated on by a girlfriend. Over the past few hours the numb feeling of unidentified discontentment has slowly moulded itself into a barbed point. Like one of those illegal fishing hooks. It’s not very nice. I’m doing my best to convince myself to go back and demand a reprint. I know that will involve handing over the negative again, but I will do it. I promise myself.