film , collodion , alternative printing

Collodion and description

What is collodion “wet plate”, and what can I expect in a session

First a bit of history, the wet plate collodion process was developed by Frederick Scott Archer and made its first debut in 1851. The majority of the Civil War photos that you see today are a result of the process. In fact, the portrait of Abraham Lincoln on the five dollar bill is made from a collodion image taken by Mathew Brady on a glass plate.



Do you have to hold still for 10 seconds?

Nope! I have modern day strobe light to make things quick for all seasons, and summer offers mother natures gift of long days and the sun if the mood strikes



What should I wear?

Collodion reads in the UV range so colors show up different than one would expect…. Please see the color palette for a accurate representation of color to collodion. One other thing to note, Words on your cloths will show up backwards. Its not the end of the world, but it tends to pull your eyes from the intended subject and make you ask “are the words backwards?”

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Colors to Collodion!




Glasses….

Glasses can be tricky, the UV coating in glasses will most often look like your wearing sunglasses. You don’t feel like yourself without glasses on? A good work around is to grab that old pair out of the drawer and pop out the lenses. Please be aware that if you wear glasses, the sunglass look will most likely be the result to some degree.




How long does a session take?

One hour is a pretty good amount of time for a session. I usually take at least one practice shot at the beginning before the final portrait.




What is the studio like?

The Studio doubles as my workshop. It’s nice and warm in the winter and has a good breeze in the summer. There’s a table saw next to the camera and a workbench behind the back drop.


Is this operation mobile?

Yep, it sure is. This is a very intensive process on my end, and going mobile requires a bit of correspondence to coordinate. Shoot me an email for specifics.

Can I take my plates home today?

Yes in short, BUT…. the process to get the plates ready to go takes about 2 hours, and possibly longer during a busy shoot. I normally like to allow for extended wash and dry times for each plate prior to varnishing. The final varnish coat is also much more durable and safer for travel after 24 hours of dry time. Last but not least, digital scans are only available for 2 day processing. Once the plates are processed, We can set up a time to meet up for delivery, or I am happy to mail them to you.


The Collodion process is well suited for individuals and couples portraits. Families and children present a challenge. I LOVE a challenge, so we’ll take some time, and have some fun with the process. I also enjoy shooting pets with or without their people. The results can’t always be counted on, but I’ve had great success and welcome that challenge too!


The Collodion process itself can present it own twists. The ingredients are in a constant state of change. It is a temperature sensitive process. It relies on a lot of natural or artificial light to attain the proper exposure. Even the most skilled practitioner can have a bad day. With that said, the very twists and inconsistancies are what make this process so wonderful, and truly one of a kind!