by Meg Glasgow
Few art methods have changed as dramatically as photography. Shaped by innovation and technology, the process of making photographs has undergone a revolution since its invention 125 years ago. Black-and-white silver gelatin printing is a fading art. It requires a highly skilled and experienced darkroom technician. Yet a devoted band of film fans still adhere to the traditional method of gelatin silver printing.
Meet artist and photographer Charlie Carter. Clinging to the traditional means of the gelatin silver process, photographers like Carter continue the practice through the use of film and silver-coated papers.
“I am inspired and influenced by technique. My interest in the past is becoming more prominent in my work today,” says Carter.
His compositions are a contrasting mix of 19th century bookplate images combined in the darkroom with his contemporary landscapes. It is in the darkroom manipulation where science becomes art. The selection of the appropriate negative and the preparation for the selected negative in the enlarger is a long procedure. The process of printing these ideas into a single photograph is complex and very time consuming. It’s not uncommon for Carter to produce several images before creating the one that fits the highest standard.
“Each photograph is unique due to how it is printed and the paper it is printed on,” Carter says. “The complexity and spontaneity that occurs in the printing of my photographs ensures its originality to the collector.”
Carrying photography equipment into Idaho’s backcountry, it is easy to understand where Carter’s passion lies. Being a native Idahoan, his pursuit of the perfect black and white photograph has led him all over the west in hopes of capturing the majesty and grandness of the Western landscape. His strives to create images that inspire and emotionally move the viewer into looking at the natural world around them. Creating an appreciation for the art of silver gelatin black-and-white photography is a bonus.
“My goal is to produce imagery that evokes appreciation to technique, creative merit and intellectual thought while upholding the traditional process of fine art photography,” he says.
Carter received a BFA degree from Boise State University while studying under Professor Howard Huff. He has worked in his chosen medium for the past 20-plus years and is steadfast in making his photographs the “old fashion way.” The artist resides in Meridian, Idaho.