Thank you for visiting the blog at SantaFeWetPlate.com. My name is Kevin Black. I have been a commercial advertising photographer for over 40 years. I graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology in 1976 with a Bachelor of Science degree (B.S.) in Photography.
I’ve shot mostly work for advertising and design firms around the United States, specializing in food and product. About 15 years ago, I decided to explore portraits and took a workshop at The Maine Photographic Workshops. Yes, I had photographed people before that, but never really considered ‘portraits’. From there, I created a body of work photographic cowboys, rodeo attendees and cowgirls at the oldest continuously running rodeo in the United States. Located in Pilesgrove, New Jersey, Cowtown Rodeo was close to my studio and home near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
My son, Shea and I spend 19 Summer Saturdays setting up a pop-up canopy, generator, lights and camera to make portraits. I had so much fun. It was hard work at times, but well worth it. Some of those images can be seen at my advertising photography site : Blackinc.net.
When I started shooting in the studio, 90% of the images were taken on 8×10 film, occasionally on 4×5 and very infrequently using medium format. After decades of working with view cameras, the advent of digital imaging moved me into high resolution medium format digital backs from PhaseOne on my Mamiya RZ 67 equipment. This was faster to work with, no movements like on a view camera. The quality of the equipment was beautiful. Super smooth tonal gradations similar to large format film.
Eventually, I supplemented this workflow with DSLR cameras and learned to shoot digital video for storytelling projects. I do not regret the move from film to digital at all. These are tools for my business. Actually, moving from film to digital actually gave me more control over the product that I delivered to my clients. No more lab errors messing up film (mostly transparency films and polaroids). The use of CaptureOne software to post-process the digital images was wonderful-and still is.
I did miss one aspect of this growth process: the Intentionality of working in a slower process utilizing view cameras.
The time you have to take making the image, spending much more time with the portrait subject is vastly greater than working digitally just simply because of the equipment.
Eventually I started to see images taken using the wetplate tintype process. I really fell in love with that aesthetic and decided to learn more. The good thing about that learning curve is that I had decades of daily experience with view cameras, lenses, exposure and lab techniques. Learning wet plate collodion was not the insurmountable hurdle it could have been.
Now, in addition to working digitally in still and motion is complemented with working with view cameras, hand made sensitizing materials and darkroom work.
I really love ti.
I shall be posting more about the process, some of the crazy weird anomalies that happen along the way and how it is teaching me patience.
Thanks for reading. Hope to hear back from you.