James O’Connell is a photographer based in Santa Fe, NM specializing in wet plate collodion photography. James fell in love with the process while working at Bostick & Sullivan, the largest supplier of historic photo process chemistry. For over 3 years James has dived deep into the world of tintype. Moving between the studio and the field to create a diverse body of work showcasing the unique and often mystical elements of wet plate photography. Along with his fine art practice, James operates a tintype portrait studio in town called High Desert Alchemy.
Tintypes or wet plate collodion photography was invented by Frederic Scott Archer in 1851 and quickly became the most prolific photographic process of its time. With chemistry more transportable and affordable photographers could leave the studio to take photos of the world and professional portraits became accessible to more people than ever before. Tintypes would be replaced in the 1890s by gelatin dry plates, but photographers dedicated to the craft have kept it alive. Now, even with the advent of digital photography, wet plate collodion is in a renaissance.
Many people are drawn to the wet plate process for its mesmerizing, haunting images. Unlike digital photography, wet plate is slow. As the name implies the chemistry must be wet for it to work. In practice, this means that a photographer must pour, shoot, develop, and fix the plate all within a 20-minute window before the plate dries out. The slowness of the process dictates the photos being taken. The photographer must work with more care and thought. Chemical anomalies and artifacts make each photograph truly one of a kind. Watching a tintype develop is to witness the alchemy of 19th-century photography.
Print size: 12" x 15"
Each print will have a .5” border around the image area, so the full print size is 12.5” x 15.5”