Current Status of Treatment Practices in Photograph Conservation
Interview questionnaire (template 5)
a. Could you please tell me your name, job title and affiliation?
b. When was this conservation lab established and for how long have you been working here?
1. Considering that in practice, not all deteriorated photographs (or not all photographs that present problems), can be treated or are treated, how do you select and prioritize the photographs that are going to be treated? What factors determine the need or request for treatment?
2. If you had more resources would you propose the establishment of a regular treatment program for the collection? (based on surveyed priorities?)
Type & Aim
3. Can you describe the scope of treatments that you perform and the types of photographs you treat most frequently?
4. Could you describe, as an example, the intervention of a photograph or group of photographs treated in this lab recently, to help me understand your work methodology? (A challenging treatment or a treatment you perform regularly).
5. In a general sense, what is the aim of the treatments performed, stabilization or restitution of the aesthetical qualities of the objects? (Or both, or other?)
6. How does your institution define mounting and rehousing relative to conservation treatments?
7. In terms of extent, could you define what you consider as a minor, moderate and major intervention? In which category (es) do the treatments performed in this institution fit?
8. In your observation of the work that has been done and that is currently performed in this lab, what changes do you perceive in the way treatments are approached and performed?
9. Do you perceive changes in the level of intervention? (If so, can you comment on the factors that have led to these reduced/increased levels of intervention?)
10. Do you consider that the perception of how a photograph should look, in terms of its condition, has changed through time? Do you think users perceive or relate certain deterioration as inherent (natural, intrinsic) to photographs?
11. (If so) Do you think this is true in the private sector as well as within the museum/archive environment?
12. What is your observation of the work performed in other institutions and in private practice in relation to the work performed here? Do you consider that the use and context of the photographs define their treatment approach (requirements and extents)?
13. Do you consider that market (value/trends) influence treatment decision-making and performance?
Issues in treatment
14. Daguerreotype cleaning
The chemical cleaning of daguerreotypes is one of the first restoration treatments performed on photographs. It was historically performed by photographers, dealers, collectors, curators and later by conservators. There has being a clear transformation in the methodologies and materials used for this treatment. What is your opinion on the performance of this treatment? Have you cleaned daguerreotypes? If so, could you explain your work methodology? How do you evaluate the potential risk and benefits of this treatment? How do you evaluate your results?
15. “Chemical” treatments. To restore: Fading/Color shift
The use of “chemical” treatments to restore or enhance the appearance of photographs (treatments that involve photographic chemistry, like bleach and redevelopment) has been used recurrently through time. A considerable amount of research has been developed in this subject to determine its viability and applicability in different materials like developed out gelatin silver prints and negatives and print out processes like salt prints.
What is your opinion of these types of chemical treatments; should they be performed, and if so under what circumstances? What are the limitations to this category of treatment? Do you consider material, technical implications and/or ethical and philosophical restraints?
Have you performed this type of treatments? If so, could you explain your work methodology? How do you evaluate the potential risk and benefits of this treatment? How do you evaluate your results?
16. Un-mounting/remounting of photographs (including dis-assemblage of albums)
The un-mounting and remounting of photographs has been considered a needed treatment in different contexts through time. For instance, it has been considered necessary to promote the stability of photographs, or required to allow their individual display in the case of photographs belonging to albums. In what circumstances do you consider these practices can be justified? What do you consider are the allowable reasons to proceed? Do you think they are still performed as regular procedures in certain institutions or private practice?
17. Modern and Contemporary photography
With modern and contemporary photographs, the tendency for bigger formats and the use of new materials -not only photographic but also materials from mounting methods like different rigid supports, plastic laminates and face-mounting systems- have challenged current treatment practices. What has been your experience with treatment of this type of photographs? What is your opinion about reprinting contemporary photographs that present ‘major’ damages? Do you consider we should adopt and/or adapt theory and practices from contemporary art conservation? If so, in what sense?
Treatment experience/training & future
18. Do you consider that treatment proficiency is central to the competences of a photograph conservator? Why? How do you think we can gain treatment proficiency?
19. In terms of treatment, what are the major challenges that the field faces?
I deeply appreciate your time and interest to perform this interview and to receive me here in [name of the place].