NK: This is an enormous book and nearly half of it is focused on artists using your platinotype process. It’s really inspiring to see all the various styles and artistic results people are able to achieve with the same basic method.
PM: We felt that was really important because there seemed no better way to demonstrate the range of imagery that can be made with a process such as this, as well as too show the range of qualitative differences, from very warm to very cool, on translucent paper or not, and so on. When I first started printing in platinum that was the greatest lack in my work, I desperately wanted to see good reproductions of platinum palladium prints and they were hard to find.
NK: The artists you feature are mostly contemporary, but there are also images which you have printed by Imogen Cunningham, one of the great photographers of the early 20th century, as well as her son Rondal Partridge. How did that come about?
PM: I’ve had a very long relationship with the Imogen Cunningham Trust making platinum prints of Imogen’s work. I began to work for the trust in 1985 and collaborated with Ron for about 10 years. They had seen my platinum prints in Scotland and had asked me to come meet with them in Berkeley, and that was my first trip to the United States. Ron and Elizabeth Partridge were so generous and trusting with me, they were like family. Ron was such a character. He took it upon himself that he was going to train me and guide me and I was too arrogant to say, “Yes, I will be your acolyte Ron, I will be trained and be guided by you,” so we clashed all the time. But we loved each other all the time, too. It was just amazing. I learned so much from him.
When I started writing this book I called up Meg. (Ron’s daughter and manager of both the Imogen Cunningham Trust and Rondal Partridge Archive) She and her husband Craig were looking for an excuse to visit from the west coast, so I said “Come on over!” They brought a bunch of scans and some negatives and we spent the week making prints together. They left the negatives with me and I fine tuned the prints and they gave me permission to put them in the book.