Nita: Paper negative

By | November 12, 2015

This is a paper negative from the Nita archive. I didn’t know exactly what it was so I took it to my printer, Brian at BDI images and he told me. The paper negative would be contacted with a sheet of photographic paper and glass laid over the top rather than printed using light shone through it via an enlarger (as with film negative), so it would only be able to maintain its original size of 4″ x 4″. Each image within is the size of a passport photograph. The paper negative is more fragile than film negative as it will eventually disintegrate faster. Perhaps for this reason it was made on 2mm thick card.

I printed it as a positive but decided to keep it as a paper negative scanned in its original format because you can see Nita’s movements and rotation to camera more clearly in negative.

I think this was taken in a commercial photographic studio that would have offered a passport service. In the archive there are lots of what are essentially ‘self portrait’ passport photographs of Nita and they all have a playful, theatrical and often comic charm to them. I wondered at this and then remembered that this was the era of silent films where expression was everything.

I wonder if Nita spent her pocket money taking these self portraits for fun, practising to camera or whether she was building an actress portfolio? Nita was about thirteen or fourteen here, circa 1927.

Nita: Paper negative