Alain Briot • Printing Papers

In our digital world many have lost the love for the tangible object, the literal texture of a great piece of paper. Alain Briot waxes wistful about the qualities and his preferences in this highly evocative medium

I like to think of printing paper as being more than paper. It is attractive, beautiful to look at, even without an image on it yet. I like slightly off-white paper. Just a few points off pure white, a few points less blue and more yellow. Say 247, 247, 258 in RGB numbers for example.

In short, good printing paper has class. It makes me want to print on it, to lay a beautiful image on a beautiful paper. It creates desire in me and hopefully, if I do my job right, the print will please the client.

A good paper has character, it is visually pleasing. Above all, it has aesthetic and artistic qualities. The right coating, the proper sheen or gloss, the correct luster or matte finish. It has to have a good D-max as the darkest black is defined by it. It must have a beautiful white tone, not too white or too yellowish. Finding the right combination of artistic and technical aspects is what keeps me searching for the elusive ‘perfect’ paper, the one that will make my prints look just the way I want.

Agfa Brovira was such a paper. Printing on Brovira meant making a statement, visualizing a print like no other because it was going to be made on Brovira. Brovira printing was its own medium in a way, just like creating a Dye Transfer or a Cibachrome print. An image printed on Brovira was more than a black-and-white print. It wasn’t just printing in black and white because Brovira wasn’t white. It was just the right shade of off-white yellow, a thing of beauty, with a texture to die for. Of course, if you never printed in a darkroom, or if chemical photography is something that sounds museum-like to you, then ...

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Alain Briot creates fine art photographs, teaches workshops and offers DVD tutorials. Alain’s three books are available as printed books on Amazon.com and as eBooks on his website.

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