Wet Plate Photography with Jason Snyder

One of our most unique shoots to date was a collaboration with photographer Jason Snyder. Jason is a champion of a style called wet plate collodion. A common practice in the 1800’s, wet plate collodion was designed to make taking family portraits more accessible to the general public, and each photo produced is one of a kind. Anna Ciaccio, friend and model, shows her classic beauty in extravagant headpieces of Carmel’s design. Jason Snyder graciously agreed to answer a few questions about the experience, and we are excited to share what we learned with you:

Our first question was in regard to what attracted Jason to wet plate collodion. Jason explained that “the beautiful tonal range and ultra fine grain of the positives and the negatives” were one of the main attractions for him, in addition to the dynamic nature of the photographs. As a photographer, Jason is primarily interested in “the making of photographs, regardless of method” and there are many methods he uses to make pictures beyond wet plate collodion.

“I  like the singularity of the in camera image, and the specific connection that I have through the camera to my subjects.”

Wet plate photography is impressive for more than just the images it produces, as the production is an age-old and intricate process. We asked Jason about the popularity and availability of  the materials necessary for such an undertaking, and he informed us that there is a worldwide but tight-knit community of photographers who hold an interest in wet plate collodion, and the materials can be attained readily from photographic suppliers and chemical companies. The hardware of the process can be found at modern manufacturers, but we were interested to find out that much of the darkroom and actual camera components are made by Jason himself.

When assessing the value of these images it is important to take each step of its production into consideration. The time and experience that is required for proper execution is extensive, and the chemistry involved can be expensive. These one-of-a-kind images are made one at a time, each on its own piece of handmade film.

As this was Mt. Lebanon Floral’s first experience with wet plate collodion, we were interested to see why it was that we had only just been exposed to this amazing art form now. Jason explained that, while he is not sure of the reason for its revival, collodion photography is more popular now that it had been in the past five years.

“I think it has a place now more than ever, and should not be a replacement for, merely a supplement to, other expressive ways to work. In the end, a moving, well made photograph with content, execution, and holding power will have those qualities not because of the way in which it was made, but for more basic reasons.”

While we believe that flowers go with everything, we were pleased to hear that Jason also felt that “the floral collaboration was a success on all fronts”. Numerous images resulted from this shoot, the black and white images below are the wet plate images, and others were produced by color film and digital photography.

“The flower arrangements rendered well in collodion…It left me anxious to photograph outside where we have a little more creative freedom in the content.”

Mt. Lebanon floral is enormously grateful to have had this experience with Jason. Our mission is to seek out cutting edge ways to spread and create floral beauty, and we are always excited by the opportunity to work with great talents like Jason Snyder.

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To check out more work from Jason Snyder visit his website!