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Monday, August 13, 2012

History Lesson

Photography by its own history is not the most "earth friendly" business to be in. I thought, I would give a history of where it has come from... so you can understand my passion about my role in where it is going.

When I first started in the "biz" I worked at a popular "mom and pop" studio/ lab as a lab tech. This was in the day of film, and hand mixing each batch of chemistry to develop and print each image... that's right... before the days of the digital screen I could look at a negative and make real color corrections adding yellow, taking out density... to make the perfect image... oh my how the world of 1-hour has changed!
The insides of the first mini lab printer I worked on... this one was much cleaner then mine

If we go back farther the history of film is long, and widespread Eastman Kodak was always at the forefront, along with big names such as Agfa, Fuji and Ilford... but here is something you might not have known. What was film made of? Kodak's book of Film Care puts it as "Film is animal, vegetable and mineral" my friend Dr. Joe used to say "Film is made out of the parts of the hoof that was too good, to go into jello" EWWW there is a visual for all you clean eaters! But true enough the medium used to bind the emulsion to the film is made of gelatin, a natural polymer made from animal bones and hides. Not to be left out of the race in technology film had its own race and changes to its make up going with more man made substances like cellulose acetate, or polyester. Film was not the only part of progression the chemicals that made film into negatives and paper into prints... now that has always been toxic....  but when the big swap from black and white to color came into play... it began the One hour lab craze. Chemicals then were widely dumped down open drains... it wasn't until OSHA stepped in and some new regulations started being implemented that labs were required to handle them in a certain way. Including having a silver recovery machine, silver being a byproduct of the chemicals used to print with. Hence the term "silver halide prints"

I remember gearing up to chip the silver... what fun! I looked like Robin Williams in One Hour Photo... which was a thriller to most.. but a comedy to me! 

The chemicals used were nasty! They smelled, I had no hair on my arms for years from digging around in them... and my mother-in-law was convinced she would have green grand-babies! There were not a lot of rules still in the 90's when I began working.. the chemicals came in plastic bottles that had to be rinsed and a hole cut in the bottom before being tossed, and old chemicals were still washed down the regular drain (except the silver producing one) but we did turn on water to "dilute it" in a way I'm glad I didn't ask to many questions at the time.. looking back I never would have been able to waste and damage so much. I mean... down the drain... really?

Which is a big part of why I look for changes I can make now that are reasonable, sustainable and practical. My view on green is not super overboard... I don't compost, I don't garden... largely because of my fear of bugs! However, I do recycle, reuse, reclaim, shop local, and support businesses who have an earth friendly attitude.  This change to our household has been amazing! It was really important to me to encompass this in my new business, in part to repent in a way for my crimes of the past.

Now that you know a little bit more about where I have been... stay tuned for the next bit about what makes Verte, well Verte! How we strive to be more green and some of the research we have done, along with products and companies we support!


  1. I love that you are green! :) Favorite part! I can only imagine the fumes in that "mom & pop" shop!

  2. Ha! I joke that the only time I have ever smelled anything is when I was pregnant... because of all the fumes I have no "real" sense of smell!