Daguerreotypes & Wet Plate in the 21st Century

I have dabbled in the realm of photography in one way or another since I was a little girl. Long enough to remember film, love prints and cameras that made us wait. In our digital world we capture many, many images, because we can and it doesn’t “cost us anything”. On that latter point I disagree. As artists, we should be deliberate in our creations, thoughtful, and work with intention.

On First Thursday, this month, a friend and artist Daniel Carrillo had an opening for a showing of Ambrotypes at the Greg Kucera Gallery in Seattle. Over 100 unique portraits fill the walls of this gallery, and they are, simply put, stunning. If you are able, I encourage you to head over to the exhibition, as it’s only up for one more week!

This past Sunday, Daniel graciously opened up his workspace, allowing fellow photographers and artists to see his process in action, be a part of the process, be subjects in images and beyond.

From copper and silver to iodine and bromine to mercury and beyond, the process of creating Ambrotypes and Daguerreotypes is intriguing and potentially dangerous. Daniel first walked us through the process of creating a Daguerrotype, of which we got to be the subject. And then he created an Ambrotype on a glass plate. I captured some images throughout the day…

Daniel shows us the copper plate that’s got a layer of silver plate over it and talks about the beginning of the process to create a Daguerreotype.

Simple tools to create art…

Lots of buffing involved…

A Deardorff Field Camera.

The Group, almost ready…


Don’t try this at home kids!

What a great looking group!

Now time to take another photo of the group, this time on a glass plate.

Daniel inspects the glass plate after it’s been exposed and developed.

Here’s a photo of the plate, after it’s been dried and varnished.

After all of this, Daniel setup to do individual portraits of those who were interested in having one made.

What do you see in the view camera? This is my friend Paul with his Rollei.

A lot of care, thought and time go into this process that dates back to the beginning of photography. I’m so happy to see people like Daniel creating images like this. Please check out his work!

~ kate