Time was, when all photos were in black and white, and picture-perfect was far from instantaneous.
Creating a photographing vision took time, patience and moments of resolve in a place that is itself disappearing – the dark room.
And, says photographer Eileen Byrne, the results were worth it.
In the age of digital cameras, the art of black and white photography may be fading, so to speak, but Byrne believes it is an art that still has the power to inspire both viewers and photographers.
Their true colors, as it were, come through at the Photo 2009 Black and White Classic at the Brush Art Gallery and Studios in Lowell, which will feature a juried show of black and white photographs from a variety of photographers.
This year’s juried show drew about 100 entries, from which about 30 were chosen.
Byrne enlisted the talents of juror Howard Yezerski, owner of the Howard Yezerski Gallery of Boston.
The winners will be announced and unveiled at a reception set for Saturday, Jan. 31 at the gallery.
The event is held in conjunction with Lowell Photography Weekend, in which museums and galleries throughout the city will host events devoted to all aspects of photography.
Byrne has hosted the Black and White Classic roughly every three years since 2001. “There is no digital – just traditional photography. Not bits or bytes, just black and white,” said Byrne, who is also the gallery’s administrative director.
Byrne added, “I contacted other galleries in the city and asked them if they wanted to do photography shows. We had a citywide show. We had staggered openings on a single day, so people could go from one city to another.”
Photography, old school style can help keep a photographer in touch with the roots of the art, she said. “Because everyone is going digital right now, everyone can manipulate pictures.”
By contrast, she said, traditional photography and development is “almost like ballet. There are rules you have to follow…to have to work within those limitations takes a lot of talent, and patience.”
It also means following local regulations about the storage and disposal of chemicals. Byrne said photographers who continue to work in this way have to be mindful of their municipalities’ requirements for hazardous materials such as developing fluid.
Each year the show is something of a leap of faith. “Every time I do this, I am concerned we will not get enough entries,” Byrne said. “But people are thrilled that there is at least one show devoted to black and white photography.”
The Photo 2009 Black and White Classic runs from Saturday, Jan. 31 – March 15 at the Brush Art Gallery and Studios, 256 Market St., Lowell. Reception and naming of winners will be held Jan. 31, noon -- 2 p.m. Reception and exhibit are free to the public. Gallery hours are Tuesday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday noon to 4 p.m. For more information call 978 459-7819 or visit http://www.thebrush.org/.
The following is a selected list of Lowell Photography Weekend events. For more information, visit http://www.lowellphotographyweekend.com/.
-- “Point of View,” Western Avenue Studios, 122 Western Ave., Lowell. Celebrating the diversity of the community of photographers at Western Avenue Studios. For more information visit http://www.westernavenuestudios.com/
-- “Exposed,” Arts League of Lowell Arts Gallery, 246 Market St., Lowell. The Arts League of Lowellpresents a juried photography exhibition featuring a variety of artists. For more information visit http://www.artsleagueoflowell.org/.
-- “The Heart of Light: Digital Explorations II,”Color digital prints by Maureen Chase. Ayer Lofts Gallery, 172 Middle St., Lowell. For more information, visit http://www.ayerlofts.com./
-- “Photo Seminar Portfolio Exhibition curated by Arno Rafael Minkkinen. Dugan Gallery at U Mass Lowell, Dugan Hall, Basement Level, 883 Broadway St., Lowell. For more information visit www.uml.edu/dept/art/gallery.htm .