Story of a Master Printer

The Online Photographer and Peter Turnley published this week a two-part story on the life and career of master printer to the stars Voja Mitrovic. A Yugoslav immigrant to France, Mitrovic began working at the famous Picto lab in Paris and became essentially the personal printer to such greats as Henri Cartier-Bresson and Josef Koudelka. The piece in part one and part two provides a terrific backstory to Mitrovic’s own life and his role in printing some of the most famous photographs of the last century.

He indicated to me that the three most important things involved in being a great printer are patience, developing a good dialogue and communication with the photographer he is printing for, and knowing how to read a negative. It is most important to know the photographer, to know what he or she wants, and to be able to read the image—like photographers, some people see things, and others don’t! Great printing involves knowing how to choose the right paper, having technical skills, and a strong artistic and aesthetic sense. He feels that it has helped him very much to have been himself a photographer, in order to understand the goal of a photograph.

2 Responses to “Story of a Master Printer”

  1. Davin Ellicson

    Pictorial Services in Paris or Picto is a great, great lab. I have used them a number of times and they always do an amazing job and never mess anything up like even the best NYC labs can sometimes do.

    • Rick Hemmings

      I owned one of those NYC labs and got around 500 sheets of 8×10 that had been processed by Picto in Paris for a very high end photographer . You could not even do a contact sheet off these negs as they had been so badly processed , GD 0 with over 2 mins exposure full open just about got an image which showed all the streaking from bad agitation . I’m not saying that is how they do all their work and certainly no lab has a 100% record , but I do take exception when people , such as yourself , begin making such claims as ” never ” . If you process film you’ve probably crewed up at some point !

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