My name is David Kachel and I have been an artist-photographer for over thirty years. That’s me (the one with less hair) on the left. The intelligent looking one is Wendy. She’s 97% Chocolate Lab and 3% midnight intruder. I got her free, because she is a factory second.
This is a personal blog about the daily life of an artist who happens to work in photography. That is usually called a fine art photographer, but since every portrait and wedding photographer in America now plasters that term all over his/her web site, without having the slightest idea what it means, I try to avoid using it. It has become largely a joke. I prefer artist-photographer, at least until Paparazzi start using it. After that, I may start calling myself the artist formerly known as a photographer. I suspect there is no real way to win.
For most of the past 30+ years I worked in silver-gelatin and was a very strict traditionalist. If it didn’t look like Adams, Weston, etc., it wasn’t acceptable. In fact, you could say I was an Ansel Adams clone. So much so that I wrote a lot of magazine articles related to the Zone System that Ansel Adams and Fred Archer invented many decades ago. All my important articles were first published in what was then called “Darkroom & Creative Camera Techniques” magazine, where I was a contributing editor. That was sort of the New England Journal of Medicine for photographers for many years. Sadly, it closed its doors forever this past December.
Anyone doing any kind of significant work developing new techniques or ideas for photographers published their results in D&CCT if they wanted to be taken seriously. All the other magazines at the time fell under the “what’s the best camera?” or the “wash your film in the toilet” categories. (Seriously, “wash your film in the toilet” actually happened.)
In addition to D&CCT, I wrote a lot of articles, mostly similar, for magazines in Spain, Mexico, Australia, Argentina, places I have forgotten about, and several others here in the US. I have also been published (without my consent) in several magazines, under names I didn’t recognize. I suppose I should have been flattered they thought my inventions important enough to steal, but at the time, I wasn’t.
Most of the articles I wrote were announcements and instructions for new techniques I had invented. Unless you are still using film, they are all now 100% obsolete. Several of them are obsolete regardless, because the materials they relied on, no longer exist. The most famous of the still viable techniques was a large group I collectively called by the acronym SLIMT. Selective Latent Image Manipulation Techniques. If you are still using film or paper, color or B&W, and are not using these techniques, you are really missing the boat. You can find many of my most popular articles here: http://www.davidkachel.com/monographs.html, along with SLIMTs.
I have taught photography (mostly my take on the Zone System) in my own workshops and others, and for Kodak Mexico and at a now defunct school in Atlanta. I haven’t been teaching for quite a few years now because of the change over from analog to digital and the fact that I am no longer the expert, so to speak. Digital made me a novice again, for a painfully lengthy period of time. If I had known what to expect, I might have chosen not to make the switch. I am grateful for my past ignorance.
I have work in the collections of several museums here in the US, and in Peru, Chile, and Argentina. Just recently added a new museum to that list, in my former home state of Texas, without ever knowing about it until after the fact; a collector donation. I found out about it when the curator emailed to ask for details. Usually, I am the one doing the donating!
The last several years have been spent teaching myself the photogravure process, using modern photopolymer materials. It has definitely been worth it, though I had to invent some parts of the process as I went along as there were problems with the approach I am using that had not yet been solved.
Enjoy the blog!