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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Gene Laughter

Dates:  1932 - 2017
Born:  US, NC, North Wilkesboro
Active:  US
Contemporary American bromoilist and teacher. 
Artist statement: 
The question often arises, “what should a bromoil print look like?” To that I answer, “what should a painting or an etching – or a lithograph look like? It should look like an image that the artist envisions and have the qualities that the artist wishes to render.”
Bromoil throughout much of its history has tended to be a bit arbitrary with rules of technique and imagery. One should use brush stroke number one, two and three with prescribed stiffnesses of ink for each, a special stag foot brush, etc., or so many of the old books on the bromoil process tell us. I must ask, “why?”
If bromoil, as I contend, is an art medium then one can use whatever tools and techniques that the artist wishes and prefers to achieve the artistic effect desired. To apply the oil based inks, I, like Maija McDougal, often use trimmed shaving brushes and pastry brushes. I also use vintage bromoil brushes, flat varnish brushes, daubbers made from various cloth materials and even crumbled up balls of Saran wrap (or cling wrap as the Brits refer to it)! These unorthodox tools and more allow one to impart texture to the surface of the print.
Producing art is not a 1-2-3, a-b-c process, and in my view, neither should producing a bromoil print be a rule-oriented endeavor.
Photography often gives us far more information than the eye can comfortably handle. For this reason I often try to keep the information in my bromoil prints to a minimum, trying to portray a mood and bold graphic design rather than imparting lots of detailed information.
Bromoil has long been associated with monochromatic pictorial landscapes. I have many such lovely vintage bromoil prints in my collection. I do not feel that today’s bromoil artists should feel compelled to follow the visual styles of the past, however.
Bromoil is a matter of “different strokes for different folks.” Some workers prefer a grainy effect. Others want a silky smooth print. Many only ink in monochromatic blacks, blues and browns. I use bold colors much of the time. Neither direction is the proper one. Neither is wrong. Again, “different strokes!”
I strongly believe in artistic freedom and experimentation and I hope that these qualities show up in my work now and then and are recognized by the viewers of my prints!
Gene Laughter (August 2006)

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Gene Laughter

Gene Laughter is a fine art photographer specializing in the bromoil process and has been the winner of numerous awards in photography shows at the local, regional and national levels. He has been a participant in group and solo art shows and exhibitions in both the United States and Great Britain.
Laughter's photographic work has been published in Richmond Arts, Photo Art International, Amateur Photography, View Camera and Camera and Darkroom magazines.
Laughter teaches workshops in the bromoil process at his studio, The Bromoil Factory, at Plant Zero Art Center in Richmond, Virginia. He has also taught bromoil workshops at Bostic and Sullivan in Santa Fe, NM, The College of Santa Fe in Santa Fe, NM, Palomar College in San Marcos, CA, Longwood College in Farmville, VA, Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, Wilmington, NC.
Gene Laughter is the author of "Bromoil 101, a working manual on the bromoil process", and wrote the chapter on bromoil in the book, "New Dimensions in Photographic Processes" published in December 2000 by Focal Press. His work was featured in the book, "Hand Colouring and Alternative Photographic Processes" published by Rotovision in 2002. He was a contributing writer for Alternative Photography Review and is the producer of the videotape, Beginners and Advanced Bromoil Inking.
Laughter is the founder and past president of the Photographic Arts Network of Virginia, an honorary member of the Bromoil Circle of Great Britain, a member of the Virginia Society for Photographic Art and is a member of the International Society of Bromoilists.
He was chairman of the Bromoil Section, as well as a demonstrator and speaker, at the Alternative Photography International Symposium held at the College of Santa Fe, NM in 1999 and again served in the same capacities at A.P.I.S. in 2001.
Gene Laughter is chairman and founder of Hopperfest, an annual meeting of international bromoilists.
Help Along the Way …
In my quest to learn the bromoil process and transfer, I was helped along the way by David Lewis, Maija McDougal, Norman Gryspeerdt, Gilbert Hooper, Ken Hill, Ernest Theisen … and, by my experiences with my bromoil students – I learned from each of them!
I have been asked about my greatest bromoil achievements. It’s quite simple. It is the work of my former students, most of which have become lasting friends. I look on their work in total awe and with great pride!
My favorite vintage bromoil art is the work of Dr. Emil Mayer, Arthur Kales, William Mortensen, Raymond Hanson, Hugo Rudinger, Nelly, G.L. Hawkins, Rudolph Koppitz, Frantisek Dritkol, Gustav Bilande, Edward Bafford and Charles Partington.
Since taking up the bromoil process I have become a serious collector of bromoil prints and literature and a lover of the fascinating history of this small slice of photography and art.
The bromoil process has given me great pleasure -- and so many wonderful friends!!!
(Gene Laughter - 2006) 
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