Larry McNeil uses the platinum process to explore the aesthetic relationship between light and dark and to deliver a critical interpretation of American Indian history. In the early 1990s, McNeil found himself dissatisfied with the tonal range of the silver print and turned to the platinum process as a possible solution. The richness and purity of the platinum print’s black tones immediately captivated him. McNeil continues to measure the merits of all his photographs, including those printed digitally, against what he calls the platinum standard.
McNeil is also aware of the problematic role of the platinum print in the historic representation of Native peoples. For him, the process is more than simply an artistic tool. Rather, it is a vehicle to address life, death, and revival; to unseat long-held misconceptions of indigenous peoples; and to bear witness to the devastating impact of technology, including photography itself.