Thacher Hurd


I graduated from CCA in 1972 with a degree in painting, and though I have created children’s books for most of my life, I am always drawn to the fine art side of things.

I started doing photography about ten years ago, as a way to get back to fine art, and explore a new medium.

Photogravure is a process that was developed between 1850 and 1880, by which a photograph is etched onto a polished copper plate and then printed on fine paper with the flexibility and beauty of an etching. The process is still used today by fine art presses and book publishers.

I fell in love with copper-plate photogravure when I saw a small print of Unai San Martin’s at a Kala Art Institute exhibit seven years ago. It seemed like an impossibly complicated way to create prints. I have had many false starts and long detours in trying to learn the technique, and there have been a few times when I’ve given it up altogether in discouragement.

Yet, always the sheer beauty of the blacks and the range of tones and the feel of ink on fine paper pulls me back and I try again. Most recently, I have been working with Jon Goodman in Massachusetts, learning more about the craft from one of its real masters. Photogravure seems a never-ending process, but the prints, when they come out right, are worth the journey.

Photogravure plateProcess: I use various cameras, from large format to digital.

To make gravures I start with a positive on transparent film. This is then exposed onto a sheet of light-sensitized gelatin, which is in turn adhered under pressure to a polished copper plate. After the excess gelatin is washed away in hot water, the plate is etched using a mild ferric chloride acid. After etching the plate is cleaned and ink carefully wiped on to the plate.

It is then printed on damp paper with an etching press.

Photogravures are one of the most permanent forms of photography, and will last hundred of years, or as long as the paper lasts.

Some of these images are available for sale. Contact me through the contact link for information.