Principles of Light – Portraits
Living in a fast, digital society I am so amazed when people still have space for craft or take time to understand it. As a portrait photographer using the wetplate collodion technique, craft is a very important part of my work. It’s a slow process, which requires many physical steps, from mixing the chemicals, to preparing the plates, to developing an image in the darkroom.
Compared to most current photographers, I feel more like an artist making physical work. Many people see the beauty of the work, not many understand what it takes to make it.
Having a portrait taken is an intimate and delicate process. Using wet plate collodion photography, which requires antique bellow cameras and a slower pace, turns the process into more of a dialogue, a collaboration almost, between photographer and subject. It is this, the encounter, and the synergy that often occurs, that creates the most interesting moments. Having a portrait taken this way, will allow you to experience the entire procedure up close. You will be able to go into the darkroom, and see the magic that happens when the image occurs.
Wet plate collodion photography was invented in 1851 by the English sculptor and photographer Frederick Scott Archer. He experimented with collodion, silver nitrate and glass plates, which he made light sensitive. This process shortened exposure time to a few minutes (which was very short at the time) and provided a more detailed image with greater depth of field.
This technique requires specific equipment, patience, skill and craftsmanship, which I acquired over the years. The necessary chemicals are made by myself with great care and precision, according to the original recipes from 1851.