Thursday, 25 February 2016

Film rebate - film edge

Who made using the film edge (Rebate) in photographic prints a trend?

I was born in 1960, so lived through that decade and subconsciously picked up on the conventions that connote classic 1960's photography. During the period I would have heard of and seen the work of  David Bailey despite the fact that at that time my interest in photography was minimal.

Over the years this perception of what a classic 1960's image looks like, seems to have been reinforced and for me it includes a series of conventions that when combined are definitely of that era.

As a lecturer in photography I have introduced an assignment for our level 3 students where they have to conduct a 1960's fashion/portrait shoot using those same conventions. I would argue that the visual language of the images is unmistakably of that period if most of the conventions are adopted in the construction of the image. Needless to say the styling, poses and choice of location and props finishes the image off leaving the viewer in no uncertain terms that what they are looking at is a 1960's pastiche.

These image conventions include the following

(1). The use of a classic film type such as Kodak Tri-x, FP4 + or HP5+.
(2). If shot in the studio - simple white or grey background, the white background being allowed to fall off to a grey or lit separately to create a white background.
(3). The use of a 6x6cm format camera such as a Mamiya C330, Hassleblad, Bronica SQA or Rolleiflex.
(4). Simple studio lighting - a medium reflector dish set-up in the way that Bailey would have used, or point light with a spill-kill and minimal fill-in dependent on whether the model was male or female.
(5). Strong compositions, again using Bailey as the inspiration.
(6). Print the images punchy with good to exaggerated contrast.
(7). Print with the film edge/rebate creating a border around the image including the film type details and for realism - scratch numbers into the rebate to indicate which neg is to be printed.

Most of these details are to be found in books and on-line in various places with regard trying to figure how to create a 1960's pastiche, but the one that is never mentioned is No.7 the one that relates to the use and inclusion of the film edge/rebate.

As I said - this is my perception and it is not set in granite. What I do know and have discovered is that this isn't exclusive to David Bailey and that before him there are at least two of the great photographers using the same technique...

Irving Penn
As you can see here, both these images from the 'Corner' series were printed with the inclusion of the rebate (Black film edge), both shots were made in the 1940's. The top image being Marlene Dietrich from 1947 and Mrs Rhineland-Stewart from 1948.

After Penn in 1957, Richard Avedon (below) conducted a famous shoot featuring Marilyn Monroe which is owned by the Museum of Modern Art. This too (well before Bailey) features the inclusion of the border, along with the printed numbers and name of the film. In addition there's scruffy scratched figure which can't be made out, but is probably there to indicate which is the preferred negative on the strip of film.

If we research using the internet you'll find variations of both the Penn and Avedon images and they don't always include the rebate. I personally don't have any hard-copy books that have either sets of these images in, so I can't ascertain whether when published previously with the permission of the photographers or their estate their were instruction to always include the rebate? The MOMA image does have the rebate and the sense I therefore have is that it's an integral part of the images visual language and design... Avedon would have possibly insisted that the image be reproduced with the film edge?

Irving Penn on the other hand or at least the Museum of Chicago seem to be a little ambiguous about the inclusion or exclusion of the rebate (See here) so are we to conclude that the film edge was less significant to Penn?

Then along comes the 1960's and the break- through of the working classes into a world that was primarily dominated by the middle classes - Fashion Photography. To me, there then seems to be a proliferation of the use of the film edge in the final prints especially when displayed in galleries.

Interestingly in the video here we can see the now legendary 'Box of Pin-ups' being looked at and there's no use of the rebate whatsoever, yet the images include those that you will see regularly replicated on the internet with the inclusion of the rebate. (30 mins into the video).

To be continued...

Similarly to the other examples I've loo


No comments:

Post a Comment