Robert Poole

Robert Poole photographer

Robert Poole is a retired University Professor living in Yorkshire, UK. His passion is now photography and he shares his wide range of alternative photographic process work.
From: Sheffield and London, UK.
Shows: Argyrotypes, Chrysotypes, New Chrysotypes, Palladiums and Platinum-Palladiums.

Robert Poole is a retired University Professor living in Yorkshire, UK. His passion is now photography. His scientific and laboratory background lead him, not to digital technologies, but to the traditional hands-on routes of making photographs and prints.

All his photographs are made on film, always have been (and probably always will be). He uses primarily large format (4×5 up to 8×10) cameras, but also a Hasselblad and occasionally Leica M cameras.

Based on viewing galleries and books, and a professional interest in chemistry, he embraced the iron-based alternative processes for print-making – first platinum-palladium, then chrysotype (gold) and argyrotype (silver). Robert Poole is indebted to fellow academic Dr Mike Ware for teaching the rudiments of platinum and palladium printing, initially at Paul Hill’s Photographers’ Place in Derbyshire (UK) in 1990. Mike and Pradip Malde continue to provide encouragement, inspiration, advice, instruction and friendship. Robert’s prior experience in masking Ilfochromes and registration hardware has proved invaluable in making, from negatives or positives, enlarged negatives for contact printing. He does not use digital methods.

Printing in platinum and palladium is perhaps the summit of ‘alternative processes’. Composed of precious metal embedded in the uppermost fibres of the print’s paper, these photographs are characterised by beauty (luminous surfaces, an extraordinary tonal range) and longevity. All photographs are made using the Malde-Ware ‘print-out’ processes. Their rigorous physicochemical basis and the ability to monitor printing during UV exposure ensure economy of materials and optimal print control without suspect additives. Robert’s current papers are Arches Platine and Aquarelle, the papers from Ruscombe Mill and now fine Japanese papers.

The gold process was long discounted as a viable printing method and forgotten for eighty years until Mike Ware, armed with his professional background in chemistry, revisited the process and introduced a wonderful printing-out process in pure gold. He named it the ‘New Chrysotype’ in honour of Herschel’s invention of 1842. Robert is one of the few to have embraced it, valuing its remarkable ability to endow the print with subtle split tones and hues.

Robert Poole has attended workshops with several monochrome masters including John Blakemore, Fay Godwin, Alan Ross and John Sexton and he has exhibited in Australia and the USA. He studies past masters of the art, such as Imogen Cunningham, Frederick H Evans, Laura Gilpin, Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, George Tice and the increasingly large number of devotees of these wonderful ‘handmade’ processes.

“I want to make photographs with my hands, with materials I can understand, trust and see, not a bunch of pixels. If I should make anything beautiful and worthwhile, I want it to last.”

More about Robert Poole:

  • Contact email: r.poole (at) sheffield.ac.uk OR robertpoolecamerawork (at) gmail.com
  • Website

And a quote from Francis Bacon:

“Things as they are… without substitution or imposture is a nobler thing than a whole harvest of inventions.”

Francis Bacon (1561-1626), seen in Dorothea Lange’s darkroom.

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