stephen berkman, robert hirsch, photo technique, wet plate collodion

Stephen Berkman

Documentary Photographer of the Mind
written by: Robert Hirsch

…I am interested in photography’s first 40 years because it was at its zenith right from the start. Photography has not improved much; it’s just gotten more convenient. I like the visual code of the nineteenth century, the formality of it, the way things looked, and the mix between art and science. In an age when digital imagery often disrupts our expectations about photography’s traditional role as a witness to outer reality, Stephen Berkman does so using the collodion wet-plate process. Berkman’s enigmatic, time-traveling images demonstrate how an understanding of our world can be acquired through fabricated methods, thus revealing Read more »

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“Beneath Even the Old Adam” The Photographs of Robert Stivers

written by: A. D. Coleman

. . . the evolution of Stone-Age man entailed a gradual dominance of vision over the other senses . . . beneath our visual selves, beneath even the old Adam, lies buried that mammalian and pre-mammalian self, which feels and smells and intuitively or instinctively apprehends. When the dominating eyes are blunted, these “older” senses again become the masters, and to that extent a new persona is born. — Patrick Trevor-Roper, The World through Blunted Sight Photographs, by their very nature, ask us to experience the world through someone else’s perceptual system, to consider it as seen with someone else’s Read more »

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Animal Longings

written by: A. D. Coleman

Kate Breakey’s sensuous, sumptuously colored, riveting pictures depict once-living things—birds and flowers, mostly, but also a lizard, a dragonfly, a butterfly, a moth— that have died and found their way into her studio, to lie beneath her lens and undergo what might be described as a solemn, protracted rite of passage. Some of these she herself comes across in her peregrinations; some reach her by other paths. (“My friends…give me small dead things as gifts,” Breakey writes.) In their original form, these images generally measure 32 inches square. The substrate of each is a gelatin-silver print, a considerable enlargement of Read more »

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Fame is Narrative

written by: Kevin Moloney

What makes the difference between a recognized artist and a dabbler, an amateur or a dilettante? I am sure there are formulas, Ph.D. dissertations and many entire books on the subject. I’m not writing this as an expert, only an observer. And I’ve been observing the case of Vivian Maier, a long-time amateur street photographer whose work was only discovered by accident in 2007 and attributed to her shortly after her death in 2009. Her images were uncovered by a few auction buyers who purchased her negatives−they were intrigued by the images. Through their efforts her work has since been Read more »

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Lukas Birk, Sean Foley and the Afghan Box Camera Project

written by: Robert Hirsch

From photography’s earliest days, enterprising practitioners realized they could take their services directly to the people. This lead to the horse-drawn wagons called “Daguerreotype Salons” and then to portable, darkroom tents that allowed wet-plate photographers to make pictures outside. As technology advanced, the tents morphed into a single apparatus that combined both camera and darkroom, which allowed photographers to work anywhere. Afghanistan is one of the last places where street vendor photographers still use such a hand-made, wooden camera called kamra-e-faoree or “instant camera.” Observing this practice lead Lukas Birk to undertake the Afghan Box Camera Project. The following are Read more »

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The Heyday

written by: Kevin Moloney

This is a sermon, so feel free to mutter an occasional amen or shout hallelujah. And like any congregation of believers, you probably already know some of the things I’m going to say. But we are here to reinvigorate our faith, so please be seated while I take the pulpit, thump the mike and clear my throat. You are living in the best time in history to be a photographer. It may not seem like it considering the ever-present industry bad news. But Horace Greeley, a 19th Century journalist and inveterate forward thinker once wrote, “The illusion that times that Read more »