I take portraits using a 19th century chemical technique, wet plate collodion. A metal plate is sensitised in a silver nitrate solution, then exposed for several seconds in a large-format camera. I did chemical photography as a teenager. I’m now a DOP in film and TV, but sadly haven’t touched celluloid for 10 years. Then in 2017 I stumbled across wet plates by photographers like Joni Sternbach and Victoria Will, which re-ignited my interest in analogue techniques.
A sitting is a collaborative process. Since wet plate exposure times last several seconds (the ISO is 0.75) I can’t choose The Moment to press the shutter as in modern photography; the sitter is sent out onto the stage, and it’s up to them how they pose. The results are sometimes surprising, occasionally failures, but always beautiful: antique lenses, long exposure-times and chemical artefacts combine to make arresting analogue images.