Benridō

High-quality prints and collotype

benrido

Evolving with traditions

From photography to high-quality prints and collotype. Over a century in the history of Japanese image-making.

Benridō: Last stand of collotype

Benridō, based in Kyoto, has been active and prominent in the image-making industry since 1887. Among the printing techniques adopted by the company, the most relevant is probably Collotype printing, which was the state of the art for photographic reproduction at the turn of the twentieth century. Collotype printing was quickly replaced by the faster, cheaper, more mechanized process of offset printing, mostly due to the high level of expertise needed to obtain consistent results in collotype. This kind of difficulty, however, did not discourage Kyoto's craftsmen, who are used to works that require the highest skills, extreme precision and a great deal of patience.

As one of the world’s few remaining producers of collotypes, Benridō provides a now-rare opportunity for today’s photographers to have museum-quality prints made for exhibition and display, while also providing collotype prints of national treasures of Japan.

Benridō's Japanese approach to a European invention

The artisans

The artisans at Benridō have perfectioned their crafts over the years, achieving results that are impossible with other printing techniques. The human-assisted collotype machines can reproduce both short and long runs. However, as the crafting process requires manual application of chemicals, skills are required and errors are made. What you see when you purchase a perfect collotype-print is the result of years of experience and numberless tries.

Watch this short documentary featuring Simon Baker—then Tate Modern’s photography curator, now director of MEP (Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris) and Benridō’s master printer Osamu Yamamoto to learn more about the distinctive features of collotype prints, the history of the process, and the forward-looking innovations Benridō has developed to preserve this traditional analog craft in the age of digital imaging.