Decisions, decisions, decisions!

Some of you may know that Mick (hubby) and I have been on our On Your Doorstep journey for a year now. The project includes eight exhibitions in eight locations - one exhibition every two months. Our schedule is a little crazy with six-seven weeks to shoot our chosen location, print, frame, mount, do captions/catalogues/flyers/posters etc. before we hold the exhibition for the location.

I've found that in the rush to get things done, my "thinking" time gets compressed, specially in the darkroom; it's all about getting the prints done! I've fallen into the habit of doing things almost by routine. With our Wales exhibition dates getting pushed out a month we unexpectedly have a little breathing space in July. So, I started thinking about the decisions I make in the darkroom, and the areas where I wanted to slow down a little, to be as thoughtful and deliberate as I am when I make the image in the camera.

I started by making a map of the places where decisions need to be made. You can see the map here. The boxes in red are the category headings, the ones in peach are actions, the ones in white are where decisions need to be made. Note that this is for large format, where I can control each sheet. Also note that I have only captured sone of the actions, just enough to anchor myself in the process. And finally, this is my personal workflow; each of you will have your own way of doing things.

It turns out there are a lot of decisions to make! Some of the decisions are fairly automatic: if I'm doing a 4x5 negative, I only have one enlarger lens that's going to work. Equally that lens is going to have an aperture sweet-spot that I'm only going to veer from if I have no other choice (it happens). Other decisions are more complex. Will this print benefit from split-grade printing? Would a little bleaching bring something to the image that I can't achieve with dodging? My next step will be to highlight the decision spots where I particularly want to focus - those will go on the darkroom wall to remind me to stop, breathe, think...

How do you all tackle the decisions you need to make to create your perfect print?