V. Tony Hauser and the Art of platinum printing

Tips from an expert on a ‘mysterious’ photographic process

I was waiting in line at Balzac’s – a wonderful coffee house in Toronto’s historic Distillery District –  looking at the last delicious danish pastry, hoping that the tall man in front of me is not going to …

“Don’t worry”, he says, smiling.  “It’s got YOUR name on it.”
“Thanks! You look like a Swiss friend of mine.”
“I used to live in Germany about 40 years ago.”
“Where about?”
“Oh, a small town with a beautiful castle – Auerbach, have you ever heard of it?”
“I grew up there!”

V Tony Hauser

V Tony Hauser

V. Tony Hauser  is one of Canada’s foremost portrait photographers. He works with antique large-format cameras in black and white for aesthetic qualities and permanence. Hauser’s fine art work is in platinum – “the most permanent and luminous of the photographic processes”, he says. “This old process of hand-coating platinum metals onto fine art papers creates the most enduring and luminous photographs.”

V. Tony Hauser – who has several bodies of work, including nudes, travel, dance, and indigenous peoples – travelled to Kenya several times, documenting the humanitarian work of Canada’s most inspired international, youth-motivated aid organization “Free the Children”.

Attracted by the complex customs of various African tribes Hauser became acquainted with traditional Maasai villagers who eventually invited him to their homes to be photographed. “I was intrigued by the Maasai’s regal poise and serenity”, says Hauser, who began to make portraits with both modern and antique cameras. The results are stunning, showing intimate, engaging and elegant images of tribal chiefs, elders, families and children or young ‘warriors’ at the brink of manhood.

V. Tony Hauser’s photographs are included in permanent collections of the National Archives of Canada, the Stratford Festival, the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography and numerous private collections around the world.

————————- INTERVIEW ————————-

As V. Tony and I sit over a cup of coffee, I get to ask him a few questions regarding the process of platinum printing – a monochrome printing process that provides the greatest tonal range of any printing method using chemical development, and the most durable results.

Question: V. Tony Hauser – you are an expert in platinum printing. How did it all start?

Hauser: Almost 20 years ago, I hired a photography student from Ryerson University – David Black – who suggested one day that I should make some platinum prints. I told him that it sounded expensive, but intriguing and if he wanted to do some research, we could give it a shot. He found out various ways of this early photographic and often described as “mysterious” printing technique. We ordered pure platinum solutions at outrageous costs (for my budget) and spent a year making 9 beautiful prints in sizes 11 x 14 to 14 x 17 inches.

Is platinum printing an expensive technique?

Hauser: Yes, it is. By the time we finished the prints, we had already spent some $ 15,000 – but I was hooked! I ended up participating in three intensive workshops to learn more about the whole process, and mostly how to be a more cost efficient platinum printer.

What is your advice for beginners?

Hauser: Don’t start out making large prints – the kind I overzealously attempted. Make prints from 4 x 5 or even smaller negatives, and make them with Palladium only. Palladium is a sister metal to platinum – it is usually less expensive and renders equally beautiful archival prints. I suggest to contact Bostick & Sullivan in Santa Fe, New Mexico, who can sell you a starter kit with printing instructions.

Do you offer workshops in platinum printing?

Hauser: I will give workshops to individuals upon request, but my current dark room does not allow me to have more than one student at a time – it’s a space issue. I have been approached to do workshops with groups up to six and would be willing to arrange such a workshop. It could be done in a lodge in Ontario, at a lovely setting. It could be a three day workshop where on day one participants could possibly make an image, preferably in film with a camera bigger than 35 mm. On day two and three the participants would all get a chance to learn hand coating techniques and printing their image(s).

Are you also available for lectures?

Hauser: Absolutely. I have done many lectures on platinum printing and various aspects of photography and am available to such requests from time to time.

V. Tony Hauser – thank you for sharing this information with my readers.


More about the Secrets of platinum printing:

About V. Tony Hauser


Tara Juneau – a fiercely individualistic painter

Let me introduce you to Tara Juneau – an exceptional artist, one very committed to her own ideals, her own journey and her own work.

Oil painting by Tara Juneau

Oil painting by Tara Juneau

I recently purchased this painting by Tara, who lives on Vancouver Island. The accomplished painter has won many awards at local art shows and was the youngest artist ever represented by Morris Gallery in Victoria. She studied with Dutch artist Johannes Landman, with the famous Anthony Ryder in Santa Fe, as well as Jeremy Lipking in California.

Tara has been described as fiercely individualistic – and “that is not always easy because the world of Art can be a very critical community and too often ruled by the superficiality of fashion”, says Christine Clark, creator and curator of the Balcony Gallery at XChanges in Victoria.

“Juneau is such a perfectionist that she burns what she describes as her ‘unsuccessful paintings’ in a remote location in Cowichan Bay,” says Christine Clark. “Artists are generally encouraged, and many of us are probably just naturally hardwired, to save (or at least document) every scrap of work, right down to the crumpled life drawing sketches from first-year art class.”

Burning art would be considered by most of us as a rather radical thing to do.

I remember an article in the Guardian about a Naples museum director burning art to protest at lack of funding last year. Himself an artist, he had set fire to one of his own works and then sent photocopies the chair of the European parliament’s culture and education commission, the culture minister in Rome and the regional governor in Naples, warning them of what he intended to do. But none had replied.

Tara Juneau burns her paintings for personal reasons. “Burning them is a very spiritual act for me. I am releasing them, detaching myself from all the time and energy put into them. I paint my feelings and experiences, so it is also like releasing those as well. I think people become too attached to their own ideas and preconceptions of what and how things are and it stops them from growing.”

Cool illustrations by cartoonist Simon Roy

Copyright Roy/Creese 2013

Copyright Roy/Creese 2013

A cartoon is a piece of art, which is usually humorous in intent. The Punch Magazine applied the term in the mid 19th century to satirical drawings and sketches by John Leech. Major political newspapers in many countries featured humorous or satirical cartoons – sometimes with piercing effect – commenting on the politics of the day.

I like the work of Simon Roy,  a young cartoonist and illustrator from Victoria, BC, Canada.

He burst onto the scene with his first book “Jan’s atomic heart” that left reviewers wondering if he was a new talent or a classic creator from Europe. Every review cited the resemblance of his work to the artists of Heavy Metal Magazine, where he has also been published.

Simon has illustrated a series of comics for my colleague Robert Creese in 2011 – and we were delighted with the results!

Simon is currently illustrating Image Comics’ “Prophet” series and will be writing future issues as well. He is the illustrator for the new online comic “Continuum” based on the television series produced in Vancouver for Showcase TV and he participated at the Pacific Comics Art Festival in Victoria in October.
More of Simon’s work can be found at http://www.robot-blood.blogspot.com