After sitting for a portrait in spring of 2019 I decided I wanted to learn this historic process for myself. I created my first Ambrotype using the wet plate collodion process in September 2019. My images have been featured internationally in online galleries, e-publications, and printed magazines, including The Vintage Woman quarterly journal and Gallery118 in Budapest. I was awarded TAP grant funding from The Arts Partnership for my project with The Cass County Historical Museum and Bonanzaville pioneer village in Spring of this year. The project was completed in August, and my series of resulting images are on display at the museum where they will eventually be archived. I have had work featured in The Forum on four occasions, one of these times was for my pandemic lockdown art project featuring the 5 practicing wet plate artists in North Dakota.
I opened my natural light studio in the Dakota Business College building downtown Fargo July 2021. In addition to my personal creative work, I host walk-in portrait days twice a month and take commission work. As a self-taught milliner, I repair and restore vintage and antique hats for my online business HighHatCouture.com which I have had since 2012. I have lived in the Fargo/Moorhead community since 2004 with my husband John Janousek.
Explanation of the process:
I create portraits made of sensitized silver on black glass and metal. This is an analog process blurring the line between science and art, using chemicals and water. This form of photography is one of the earliest and most successful means of making images. It was invented in 1851 by Frederick Scott Archer. It often requires the sitter to remain still for the exposure in natural light for about 6 seconds in my studio. The photo is then developed on location and can be seen in about 5 minutes.
It's hard to put into words exactly what drew me to the historic wet plate collodion process, or why this was the art form I chose to continue with long term, but it seemed to be able to combine so many of my interests into one medium. It melds the past to the present in a way no other form of photography can. While it involves chemistry and can be a notoriously troublesome and difficult format, the resulting portraits are so raw and intimate sometimes it seems like magic.
Most of my images are influenced by themes. I like to create work in sets, or in a series. I find it gives me purpose and direction. It also allows me to swing across many styles, subjects, and concepts. Some of the topics that I have explored so far involve drawing attention to local history, connecting and collaborating with other regional artists, conceptual imagery that expresses self reflection, and literary themes. I also enjoy experimenting with colored glass, mirrors, and multiple exposures. My images are captured in natural light and are all long exposures. This lends an otherworldliness to the portraits that cannot be duplicated using another means. Everything I create, I hope, will ultimately take the viewer outside of themselves and connect them to the subject in a place in between the present world and the eternal moment.
Instagram : @OldSchoolCollodion
Website until 1/2022 : HighHatPortraiture.com
Email : HighHatPortraiture@gmail.com
Momentary and Light.
8x10 tintype photograph. Plate #1 of 2. 8/16/21
Search for Knowledge.
8x10 tintype photograph. Plate #1 of 2. 8/20/21
A Time and Season.
8x10 tintype photograph, double exposure. Plate #1 of 2.
5x7 glass print of a scanned ambrotype photograph. Framed with original mirrors used as props. Plate #1 of 2.