In this series my main focus was to create a set of collages in the darkroom, sampling negatives of my own that best reflect my deep appreciation for music and album artwork. I wanted to create stylistic black and white photographs ranging from playful to surreal. I was mainly inspired by three things: music, nature, and collages.
First, I went into the darkroom and started making my test prints to narrow down the correct exposures, and then I made a few prints. The next day, I cut out the portions of the prints that I wanted to combine with the other images. I needed material thick enough so the light from the enlarger wouldn’t seep through during processing, so I rummaged around in the recycling box and found some old cereal boxes. I traced the outline of the image that I had cut out onto the cardboard to make a stencil. Day three involved setting up multiple enlargers, and I used the stencil to combine two or more parts of an image into a black and white collage.
I used a combination of colour, and black and white negatives to create these images, adding a contrast filter as needed to achieve the desired effect. Most of these images have some aspect of the natural and the man-made world. I wanted to demonstrate the juxtaposition in a surreal way combining the two worlds we live in.
My goal was to create unrealized album artwork for the type of music I like to create with my friends, inspired by the music I listen to with artwork that accompanies those albums.
A Winnipeg native, now residing in Calgary, I’m Curtis Collin, a musician and an analogue photographer. I’ve been shooting exclusively with film since 2010, when I first borrowed my grandfather’s Pentax ME. The following year I bought my own camera, a Pentax MX.
Over the years I’ve been studying photography at Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT), and that’s where I fell in love with the darkroom. Two of my mentors, George Webber and Brian Wing have both said that I use the darkroom ‘”like a playground,” because I enjoy making darkroom prints using traditional techniques as well as developing my own ideas.
I like mixing media for some of my darkroom prints. I’ve used paintbrushes, glass, natural elements, and even cassette tapes in some of the photos I’ve composed. I also enjoy capturing moments or objects that are slightly out of place, a busted television in a prairie field, for example. Another aspect of photography I enjoy is doing film swaps with friends – the results are always unpredictable.
A lot of my work is inspired by music. I play the drums and enjoy jamming with friends. I’ve even used one of my collages as album art for a special mix-tape (you read that right, a mix-tape). The other big influence is nature. Working for Parks Canada in Banff National Park allows me access to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world: the Canadian Rockies.
Some of my photographs can be seen in SEITI∃S Magazine, a fixture in the Calgary analogue photography scene. I’ve also had the privilege of participating in the Emerging Photographers Showcase at the 2018 Exposure Photography Festival.
I love being able to shoot film in 2019, and I hope that analogue photography continues to comeback, as vinyl records have in the music world. Anything is possible under the amber lights of the darkroom, and I want to keep exploring.