In mid July 2012 I attended a course on a photographic process called Wet Plate Collodion.
I had researched the process extensively leading up to booking the course, the research itself a culmination of a long process of introspection. On undertaking the full sensory experience of producing an ambrotype from scratch my ideas about photography changed and my thoughts on photography re-opened.
My first attempts were far from perfect and magical. The imperfections a genuinely positive characteristic and magical as the images were conjured from seemingly unpromising unbranded, cheapish raw materials, as if foraged. The antithesis of contemporary practice.
I came to photography when silver based wet processes were the norm, I engaged with the medium because of most of the things made obsolete by the ensuing digital revolution. Therefore I have always felt uneasy with digital photography and by extension contemporary practice, partly because of this but also partly because it seemed inauthentic.
I don’t want to get bogged down in trying to prove one process is right and the other wrong here. Chemical or electronic processes don’t differ sufficiently in philosophical terms, and as Geoffrey Batchen once said no one outside of the medium really cares. He’s right of course, but he could have sugared the pill.
The purpose of this project is to explore a photography released from the conventions of contemporary practice by it’s historic nature and inherent restrictions.
I will document the learning process as I get to grips with the technique. More importantly I hope to record my exploration of the photography it releases.