The second installment of the photographer series is here! Daniel Afzal, accomplished wet plate photographer has submitted! Don't know Daniel's work, what wet plate photography is or just want to see into the soul of another artist by looking at their interpretation of the theme? Read on!!!
Born in Paris soon thereafter moved to Iran and then, in 1977, to Virginia a few miles outside of Washington DC, Daniel started photographing when he was young and later took classes in art history with influential curator Jane Livingston, where he learnt the history of photography.
"At that point I finally understood why I wanted to take photographs. I learned of the emotions that a photographer goes through in order to understand his/her subject. I studied photographs by Avedon, Klein, Penn, Weegee, Clark, Stieglitz… There were poems that left me with images long after the book was put down. I wanted to also create images that are witness to our world."
|Stacey 2012, Daniel Afzal|
DA: The process was invented by Frederic Scott Archer in the early 1850s and it was used during the Civil War. Most people have heard of, and seen, tintypes - a cheap and popular wet plate collodion on a black piece of metal, tin or iron from that era. I photograph ambrotypes which are similar in that they are a one of a kind image, but produced on clear glass. Ambrotypes require the photographer to mix an emulsion (collodion), sensitizer (silver nitrate) and developing/fixing (cyanide) chemicals. The process is called wet plate because the whole thing is done while the collodion is still wet on the glass. Because of the wet process, photographers have to travel with their darkrooms as all plates are prepared, coated and processed on site. Think of it this way, I make my own film on glass.
iskm: How does this technique affect your approach to a subject?
DA: Ambrotypes are a time consuming process that has unfastened my views of photographing. It has allowed me to slow down and consume my subject with emotion ... It is a method that is both beautiful and expressive.
iskm: Does it get frustrating to work this way, particularly as now we can take 1,000 photos a minute if we wish or is it simply a pure meditative practice?
DA: It is slow, it requires prep time in advance, patience and most of all appreciation and respect for the process and the subject. The simple task of setting up allows me to slow down and take in my surroundings. For me, this is the meditative part of the process.
It does get tedious at times, but I spend that time to think about the shot and the subject.
iskm: How do you feel your approach to photography affected your submission to ishotkatemoss?
DA: This was a great process of thoughts. I took my time thinking about the subject as I would have if I were setting up my gear. I went slowly and many ideas were revised. I spent time looking for images as well as talking about the topic. Nothing was rushed.
So, enough of a slow roll. Let's introduce everyone to your submission:
|Nick Knight's 2008 photograph of Kate for Vogue|
DA: Simply put, it was beautiful, expressive and drew me in. Absolutely a beautiful image.
iskm: What did you to your chosen Kate Moss image and why?
DA: The image was a magazine cover and is perfect for a square format. It is a very warm toned image causing deep contrast (the yellow tones would make her skin very dark). I converted the digital image to B&W in Photoshop before printing and photographing it. This allowed the subtle skin tones to translate well to collodion.
iskm: Why is the image reversed from the original?
DA: The plate is reversed because the image is upside down and backwards in all view cameras. I coat the back of the image with black paint which makes (the thin negative) plate appear like a positive. When viewing the plate you are looking at the emulsion side which is backwards from the original.
iskm: How big is the actual plate?
DA: The plate is 4x4 inches. Small compared to my usual 11x11 plates.
iskm: Has your perception of kate moss herself influenced the photo?
|Daniel's camera and the 4x4 iskm plate|
iskm: By using an old photographic technique the images look antique. Is Kate a beauty that you feel is timeless? Are you making any specific commentary as to her? Fashion? Advertising? Photography? Art?
DA: I don’t use the collodion process as a technique to make things look old. I use it because it is part of my search and growth as a photographer. This project's process definitely allowed me to get one step closer to who I am and how I perceive Kate and the industry. The world of fashion will always produce images that are timeless. To that I have to add that I have always viewed the fashion industry as a great way to tell a story with one image. A way to send the imagination into a story book. In a way, the collodion process has done that for this image.
iskm: Which photographer/s would you most want to most see involved in ishotkatemoss?
DA: Avedon of course, but sadly that is not a possibility.
iskm: Thanks so much Daniel. Your work and your submission is incredible.
DA: This was a fun process as it taught me how to look at the subject at hand in a new and different way.
More of Daniel Afzal's work can be seen at: www.danielafzal.com