09-09-14 updated 2/18/21
My name is David Kachel and I have been an artist-photographer for over forty 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 currently prefer artist-photographer, at least until the 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 40+ 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 in the 1940s.
All of my more 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 a number of years ago.
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 in 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 in subject matter, for magazines in Spain, Mexico, Australia, Argentina, places I have forgotten about, and several others here in the US. I have also been published in a number of other magazines, under names I didn’t recognize and without my consent. 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. Even if you are still using film, most of them are obsolete anyway, because the materials they relied on no longer exist.
The most famous of the still viable techniques and the one I worked on the longest, actually turned out to be a group of techniques which I collectively baptized via the acronym SLIMT. Selective Latent Image Manipulation Techniques. If you are still using film or paper, color or B&W, and are not using SLIMT techniques, you are really missing the boat and are about 150 years behind the curve. In some cases, SLIMTs can perform jobs for which no previous technique existed, at all. You can find a number 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 long defunct school in Atlanta. I have not 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 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 now rejoined adopted home state of Texas (just moved back about a year ago as of 2/28/2020), without ever knowing about it until after the fact; it was 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 there being problems with the approach (devised by others) that had not yet been resolved.
At the end of February 2019, I released a technical/tutorial book on this new process entitled, “21st Century Dry Film Polymer (Direct-to-Plate) Photogravure”. Go to my web site, link above right, and click on “Books” if you would like more information.
Enjoy the blog!