“Hand printing is about discussing what a photographer or artist is trying to achieve and how to achieve that,” says MacDonald.
“It is a real conversation and an enjoyable one. That discussion should really aid the work and aid the artist or photographer to think about what they are trying to make and how it is supposed to feel when people see it.”
In recent years, Gordon MacDonald has perhaps been best known for his publishing work.
He was the founding editor of Photoworks magazine and co-founded Brighton Photo Fringe in 2003.
He was also co-founder of visual arts publisher GOST and is half of the collective MacDonaldStrand, with his wife Clare Strand.
However, he got his first job in London as a press photographer at court.
“They gave me the job on the understanding that I knew how to build dark rooms,” he says.
“I was 17 and I’d made it up but I built them a darkroom.”
Soon after MacDonald left court photography to work in a darkroom and within a year he was a partner.
He ended up running and part owning a commercial darkroom in London and discovered a love of working in black and white.
MacDonald’s career eventually moved him away from printing but he rediscovered his love for the medium during last year’s lockdown.
“Something about lockdown made us enjoy these solitary things,” says.
“I remembered how much I love printing. How much you can do in a darkroom with a print and realised how wasted those skills are.
“I thought it would be a nice idea to reclaim it and bring some of those skills back.”
Black and white hand printing
Spectrum Photographic will take all orders for black and white hand printing and deliver the finished product to our clients.
MacDonald will print work from his darkroom at the MacDonaldStrand studio.
He will also offer bespoke advice to artists and photographers using the service.
This new service will complement Spectrum’s existing printing services.
“Some things necessarily take time, like hand printing,” says MacDonald.
“Digital printing and online ordering is a brilliant thing but it is not that or hand printing and I think that was forgotten a bit when digital first came in.
“With hand printing you get a different result and there is a different relationship between the photographer or artist and the lab.
“Not everything is completely homogenous and clean.
“That investment in time in hand printing shows in the product at the end.”