Primer on Platinum Prints
Platinum prints are not only the most permanent and stable of any medium on paper, they are one of the most exquisite as well. Uniquely beautiful and enduring yet so ruthlessly difficult to make, platinum prints are reserved for the finest images, of the most skilled photographers who make them in small editions for a special reason.
During photography’s “golden age”, the platinum print was the dominant medium. Serious photographers worked only with platinum paper, which was readily available. The beginning of World War I changed all that when platinum was declared a strategic material.
After the war, platinum was once again available – but at what cost – better than triple the price of gold. And since prepared papers were no longer manufactured, the platinum emulsion had to be hand-coated on to fine art archival papers. This required infinite patience and consummate skill. Platinum prints became the special “private reserve” of the masters. Today, less than five percent of fine art photographs are printed in platinum.
Nothing else looks or lasts like a platinum image. The ethereal luminosity and three-dimensional appearance of a platinum photograph is due to its enormous tonal scale. While a silver print can achieve ten or twelve separated gray tones, a platinum print has by far the most expanded tonal range of any image, in any medium in the world.
Pure platinum is extremely stable. It is one of the most inert elements known to man. More stable than gold, the platinum print is the most archival of any image made on paper. Whereas silver prints can visibly change over time, the platinum print will last for centuries and the image will never deteriorate.