John Cyr: Developer Trays

Like many photographers, John Cyr has a strong attachment to his developer tray. The tray holds countless memories from the years of hard work together.

Barbara Mensch's Developer Tray, 2010 © John Cyr
Barbara Mensch’s Developer Tray, 2010 © John Cyr

In John’s series, Developer Trays, he presents us with images of darkroom trays from numerous photographers including Abelardo Morell, Ansel Adams, Bruce Davidson, Dan Estabrook, Sally Mann, and Michael Kenna – just to name a few. Marked with silver deposits and chemical stains, these photographs allow us to look into the memories and experiences of each influential photographer.

From the mid-nineteenth century until today, silver gelatin printing has been one of the most utilized photographic processes. From classic reportage to fine art photography, the majority of it was performed in a black and white darkroom until the mid-1970’s. As recently as 2000, black and white darkroom classes still served as the location for introduction to photography courses. The digital advances in photography over the past ten years have

been remarkable. I am photographing available developer trays so that the photography community will remember specific, tangible printing tools that have been a seminal part of the photographic experience for the past hundred years. By titling each tray with its owner’s name and the years in which it was used, I reference the historical significance of these objects in a minimal manner that evokes thought and introspection about what images have passed through each individual tray. – John Cyr

Sally Mann's Developer Tray, 2011 © John Cyr
Sally Mann’s Developer Tray, 2011 © John Cyr

To see more photographs from John Cyr’s Developer Trays series visit our website!