Why Wet Collodion? The Surprising Resurgence Of An Obsolete 19th-Century Process


One of the earliest photographic processes has experienced a major resurgence in recent years. Wet plate photography is notoriously inconvenient, complex and unpredictable. Given that and the need for esoteric equipment and hazardous chemistry, what explains the thousands of professional and amateur artists and photographers exploring this fascinating, beautiful method? If you’ve been considering learning the process, or simply gaining more information about what’s involved, you will get a comprehensive look at the facts at this event.

Wet plate photographer Ellen Susan guides you through the history and process, major historic and contemporary artists using this method, and the necessary steps and supplies you need to get started.

Susan’s presentation includes a brief history of photographic milestones leading up to the wet plate process, and its eventual demise. Also discussed are the physical process and the variations that can be produced—direct in-camera positives (tintypes and ambrotypes), glass negatives and options for making prints from negatives.

We are shown a visual survey of 19th-21st Century practitioners work, how the approach and appearance of the process has changed, and what expectations contemporary viewers have come to associate with it. Contemporary use of the process for historical reenactments and motion pictures. Fine art applications are also discussed.

And finally, we will examine what is necessary to get started in the process. A range of options (from low-tech to high-end) supplies and equipment are presented, along with resources for obtaining them. Workshops and texts and other resources to learn the process are made available, too.