Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Paper picture?

Well, this doesn't have any specific connect to Madras, or to Chennai, but the sign was intriguing. I thought I knew a fair bit about the brands connected with photography, but 'Forte' was a new one on me. Judging from the font and the nature of the sign, I assumed the brand is something that probably died out in the 1960/70s and Mount Photo continues to display this sign because they are too lazy to take it down.

But no! Forte started life as the Hungarian subsidiary of Kodak, way back in 1922 and continued to show signs of life into the 21st century. But as a manufacturer of speciality photo paper - large format black & white seems to have been their flagship product - in a rapidly digitizing age, they probably could not find enough aficiandos to keep themselves afloat; the British Journal of Photography reported the demise of Forte in their January 2007 newsletter. (Forte's website is also defunct, now).

Still, there are a few stockists who continue to supply the last bits of Forte paper to those exacting photographers who will use no other - like this one in Canada, for instance. Could it be that Mount Photo is also one of those rarity distributors?


PS: While digging for information about Forte, I came across this interesting clip on 'How Film is Made' - worth a look, if you have about 20 minutes to spare.

6 comments:

lviss said...

60 YEARS EXPERIENCE SAYS THE BOARD WHICH MEANS ESTABLISHED SOMETIME AROUND 1949. A CASE OF CLASS BEING PERMANENT , AS THEY SAY IN CRICKET.

Vogon Poet said...

Interesting story, I remember Forte paper when I printed my B&W, long time ago. It was easy to remember because in Italian 'forte' means strong.

Jacob said...

How very interesting! I used to process all my film and develop and print all my photos. God, what a job that was.

I'm so happy with digital!

Shantaram said...

@ lviss: Ah, but the board is not a recent one - 1922 start, as I had found out.

@ Vogon Poet: That's nice - but printing photos is certainly not my 'forte' :)

@ Jacob: Oh, yes. What would I do without digital!

ramanan said...

I remember seeing my dad using Agfa Forte film in his camera some decades back...Nice to hear the name again

Shantaram said...

@ Ramana: Come to think of it, even Agfa has become less common than what it used to be - at one time, it was THE brand!