History, Identification, and Preservation of Photographic Materials

Current faculty: Gawain Weaver

Description: This 5-day workshop is an introduction to the history, identification, and preservation of photographic materials. Participants will acquire hands-on identification skills and learn the essential principles of photograph preservation. Using handheld 60x microscopes and a large set of photographic and photomechanical samples, they will learn how a variety of processes were created, why they look the way they do, and how they deteriorate. Knowledge about photographic processes is essential to their preservation and a better appreciation of the aesthetics and history of photographic prints. The workshop will also include a visit to Berkeley’s Bancroft Library and a lab session in which each student will make their own salted paper print.

Preservation topics include enclosures, handling guidelines, environmental monitoring, the effects of temperature and relative humidity on collections, and the importance of cold storage for certain photographic materials.

Processes examined in detail include but are not limited to the following: daguerreotype, albumen, collodion and gelatin printing-out processes (POP), matte collodion, gelatin silver, photogravure, offset litho, letterpress halftone, collotype, chromogenic color, inkjet, and dye sublimation. Group ID sessions, using a digital microscope and screen projection, will allow participants to practice their identification skills in a guided setting,

A workshop notebook is provided for every participant. The Basic Photographic Sample Set, consisting of 18 identified photographic and photomechanical processes, are available on-site for $75. This sample set is intended for reference and further study and is not used during the workshop.

Years Taught: 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2021