JR Martin, What is Photography?

Discover, Interviews

JR Martin, What is Photography?

Duggal’s own JR Martin was recently featured as a part of B&H’s ‘What is Photography?’ series, produced by John Harris.

© Photo courtesy of Cory Rice

With well over 50 years in the business, we also took the chance to talk to the NYC photography printing legend before he retires at the end of June.

Initially starting out in graphic design, JR went on to work at a portrait studio in Brooklyn before joining Duggal in the 1970’s as a production technician, processing, developing and printing film negatives.

Reflecting on his time at Duggal, JR notes: “When I joined Duggal, there was probably 18-22 people – that was the old Duggal. And we watched it grow, you know what I’m saying? Build clients, emphasize service; then the next thing you know, [Baldev Duggal] bought a building – he actually changed the culture of 20th Street. All of a sudden it became photographer’s row. All the big photographer’s were coming there, coming to our place – and they changed everything. Back when I started, by 7 o’clock, it’d be dark and you wouldn’t see anybody. A few years later, those streets were lit up – people all over the place, people coming into Duggal. Mr. D always put the money back into the company. He’d come in with new equipment that other companies didn’t have yet, so we were always learning and ahead of everybody. I’ve watched this company grow, and that’s the fascination.”

On the advance of digital photographic technologies: “The younger generation, they have a better understanding of the visual – anything visual. With digital, the expectation is now. However, while digital is good in many ways, I personally don’t think it has the same effect as film. It’s very colorful, but flat. You can get more depth from your images if you scan from negs. I would love to see kids learn to shoot both digital and film – the best of both worlds, you know.”

Looking back: “Time went quick, I can’t believe it. My kids are happy. They’re like, ‘about time!’ But it’s been a good ride. I wouldn’t change a thing – because that’s what makes it a good ride. You can’t change history.”

When asked about what’s kept him in the business for so long, JR shrugged and simply said, “When you love what you do…”

As a valued Duggal employee who’s seen this company grow from its infancy, we wish you all the best!