The Daguerreotype has lived and grown in my imagination, it feels like a summit, a destination.
The beguiling nature of the technique is shown excellently in the work of M Brady in the article by Monovisions.
Excellent examples like these display qualities from another era, where the idea of the photograph or the practice of photography was not yet solidified. The richness of experience had not yet been exchanged for the pragmatic.
The process and its results are difficult in many ways. Brenton my instructor (see the links below) warned me to be prepared as, “some people just don’t get Daguerreotypes”. I’m sure this has a lot to do with their otherness, technologically and culturally. Daguerreotypes aren’t in general circulation, they do not seem immediately to be part of contemporary concerns with technology and progress. You can’t just see it, like a print or an image on a screen.
My interest in the Daguerreotype is not as a re-enactor. I wonder what they can teach us, I seek their retroactivity, that they just don’t fit in is their strength to me.
The process is to expose a silvered brass plate to Iodine and Bromine fumes, then to expose to light and develop in either mercury fumes or as illustrated below red filtered light. This forms an image with a very delicate layer of silver amalgum. The plate is then washed and contained in an air tight mount faced with glass to protect it against oxidisation and also mechanically.