Alexander McKeever

Year: Senior

Major(s):  Photography

Mentor: Jensen, James

Department: Fine and Performing Arts

Project Title: Entering the Dark: A Collodion Trial

Project Abstract: Background: The collodion wet plate process was introduced to the world in the 19th century by Frederick Archer, and it was seen at the time as an improvement over the daguerreotype. Eventually it was phased out by photographers because of improvements in science and technology as well as the patience of the photographer, but it is hard to disagree that this process is still very amazing and produces images that are one of a kind. This idea of one of a kind images, patience, and brutal trial and error are something that photography seldom sees these days because of the continuing development of digital technology. Even though this is the case, it begs the question as to why people are still coming back to this process and others that are not easy. Maybe there is something we cannot recreate in an iPhone or Photoshop, a feeling of something more real perhaps.

I believe that in our age of massive DSLR cameras and the capability to take thousands of images without much thought, it is much more personal to use a medium that is tangible and will not end up lost in a memory card or computer. Other analog films (such as 35mm, 120, and 4x5) are generally used when one wants to go the analog route in photography, and they are also more accessible to many people since film is still being created. On the other hand, wet plate collodion is not as accessible because of the sheer time and learning curve that many believe it takes to get into it. So, because of my interest in analog photography, and being drawn by the beauty of a one of a kind image, I have taken the plunge to create images that reference many different famous photographs from throughout the history of photography in hopes of better understanding it.