Rob Pohl

I like the control that I get in processing the individual sheet film negatives to suit the lighting conditions at the time of exposure. I also enjoy experimenting by mixing developers from raw chemicals, and experimenting with development times. Most people do not recognize how much control over the look of the final negative rests with choices made in development.


I was born in in 1963, and have lived here my entire life. I am a self taught photographer and printer. In 1979 I started out in photography, with a 35mm camera. For many years I shot color slides and after some time I felt a need to go beyond basic photography and moved on to the developing and printing of my images. At the end of the 1980’s I set up a small home darkroom and began to immerse myself in these aspects of the photographic process.

I soon came to understand how much control over the look of the final monochrome print is in the hands of the artist during the developing and printing processes. In 1992, frustrated by the limitations of the small 35mm negative, I moved up to medium format photography. I have always been captivated by the wonderful images created by the world’s great photographers and always knew that one day I would be able to create similar work. I had no concept of how long and difficult the learning process would be. Looking back now I realize that I have come a long way from my early attempts at fine art printing, but I also recognize that there remains a lot to be learned. Despite the improved image quality of the larger medium format negative I became frustrated by the limitations of roll film. In 1996 I purchased a 4” x 5” view camera, feeling that my work needed the control afforded by individual processing of sheet film negatives. This choice has made a significant improvement in the quality of my work. Recently I began to experiment with an 8” x 10” view camera, striving for the even better image quality of an even larger negative. I remain torn between this benefit and the physical limitations of transporting the larger and much heavier equipment, as well as the optical limitations of the longer focal length lenses of this format.

My photographic interests are generally focused on two themes. Approximately half of my work focuses on the natural world; from grand landscapes down to small little natural details. The remainder of my work is of a somewhat historic and documentary nature. Mostly these images center on the remains of manmade items including native sites, old buildings, abandoned equipment, vehicles and industrial sites. Three young daughters have also taught me to appreciate the value of the portrait and I find myself compelled to learn to understand studio lighting, posing, and the human form.

In recent years I find that my vision is beginning to expand beyond the simple and straightforward. I find myself driven to create images that have something more to say. I am now working towards portfolios and bodies of work, rather than simply individual pieces. I have evolved as an artist to the point that my work is an attempt to convey a message or impart emotions in the viewer. I feel that my most successful work is that which raises questions in the minds of my audience.

I strongly believe that a traditionally printed and processed monochrome image exhibits richness, tonality and a depth that simply can not be replicated by today’s digital printers. To this end, I set out to gather together a group of artists with similar beliefs and abilities. I founded The Monochrome Guild in 2002 and it continues to be a slow evolution. It disappoints me that so many exceptional photographers and printers completely abandoned film and the darkroom to jump on the digital bandwagon. There is certainly a place for digital photography in this world, particularly for commercial purposes, but also as an art form. But I really feel that the advent of the digital image has cheapened photography and taken away from the vision and skill that is required to produce great work. I feel comfortable to let the masses move off in this modern direction while I choose to continue to express myself by traditional methods.