Craft Matters

Concerning the PBS NewsHour Story on Ilfochrome

I had the privilege to work with PBS NewsHour Weekend and my friend, Christopher Burkett, on a story airing Sunday, April 15th that features Christopher and the discontinued photographic medium Ilfochrome.

As one of the few remaining darkroom practitioners of Ilfochrome, this has been quite exciting. Celebrating the tradition of the handcrafted photographic print (in color nonetheless!) is a rare treat.

For the record, the Ilfochrome featured in the PBS NewHour story was discontinued in 2011. Ilfochrome was, and still is (for those very few of us who still have paper) the only process for producing photographic prints directly from color transparency film. It is a unique direct-positive, chromolytic process that can produce analog-based photographic prints of exceptional depth, luminosity, and color.

Ilfochrome was manufactured and sold by ILFORD Imaging Switzerland GmbH which went bankrupt and was dissolved between 2011 and 2013. Recently, surviving factions of Ilford, specifically, ILFORD Imaging Europe GmbH, announced a new digital based Ilfochrome product as part of their Photo Inkjet family of products.

These Ilfochrome branded “Photo Panels” require the use of a Dye Sublimation printer (from a digital file) to create a print that is then heat pressed onto the back of a wood or metal based panel to create the final product. This process, while unique, cannot be remotely compared to the original Ilfochrome product discussed as part of the PBS Newshour Weekend story.

Personally, I’m disappointed that Ilford would malign Ilfochrome by coopting the original brand name to introduce a new product not remotely related to the original. It only creates confusion and reeks of a certain desperation hoping to recapture the success of the original product, a product Ilford failed to market into photography’s digital revolution.

I hope those who see the PBS NewsHour story enjoy it and I welcome your comments and questions.

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