Alternative Processes: Daguerreotype with Jerry Spagnoli

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For the next few days, we will feature a mini-series of posts on alternative processes in photography. Today, Jerry Spagnoli, who works with the Daguerreotype process, is being featured. If this interests you and you'd like to expand your creative palette, the F295 Annual Symposium might be the spot for you to do so.


Jerry Spagnoli New York Giants Tickertape Parade, 2012

- Daguerreotype

Louis J.M. Daguerre introduced the Daguerreotype process to the public in 1839. The Daguerreotype was the first and only successful photographic process until the 1850s. During the 1840s and 1850s, Daguerreotype plates were commercially produced and easily available. The plates were replaced in the 1860s by the Calotype, which were much cheaper and easier to produce.

Daguerreotypes are created by polishing a silver plate, then exposing it to the vapors of iodine and bromine, which produces silver salts on the surface. The coated plate then goes directly into the camera, where it is exposed to light. After the plate is exposed to light, it is developed by being exposed to heated mercury fumes, and fixed by pouring sodium thiosulfate over the plate. 

Spagnoli states about his work that, “Photography has reached a provocative point in its history. Having reached the conclusion of its 'research and development' phase, the medium is no longer compelled to satisfy the audience's desire to see illustrations of the latest technological innovations. Artists can now focus on communicating ideas directly to the audience by utilizing all of the tools of the medium. Old or new no longer has the relevance to the discussion that it once had, since all of the tools at the photographer's disposal are effectively from the past. For the first time in its history, photography is free of the overbearing and superficial dominance of technology.

The language of photography is not limited to the pictorial effects of the image, and can include the effects created by tools of the medium. The choice of a particular camera, lens or film can communicate just as much to the viewer as the actual image.”

Come hear Jerry Spagnoli and other 21st century photographers discuss their work at the 2012 F295 Symposium: Continued Explorations of 21st Century Photography