yesterday, i got to work with fred fraser, who used an incredibly old-fashioned photo-style: wet plate negative, in which the photo negative is a plate of glass, not a piece of film as we are used to. the result is completely unlike anything i’ve ever done before!
we managed to get the shot we were looking for on the first take. we did a second shot but it’s not nearly as strong as the first. we were going for somewhat of a tough look–my inspiration was photos of tattooed women in sideshows, but maybe one who was done with being looked at. this might be the toughest photo of me yet!
[edit to add some background to the inspiration: although i love being a tattooed person, i don’t always welcome the stares & comments that sometimes go along with it. i hate when strangers touch me, twist my arm, pull away my clothing to better see the art, or when people standing one or two feet away from me start talking about how ugly and ridiculous tattooing is (in those cases, i or a friend have confronted them, because it’s just plain rude). i double-hate when people use it as an opportunity to show me their shitty tattoo or share their ridiculous tattoo ideas with me. it’s tiresome to explain the background of certain pieces that often get questions. i accept that my tattoos push me into that visual public space, and it’s understandable that some people want to talk to me about them. some folks say sweet, polite things, like ‘your tattoos are really beautiful, and i don’t even like tattoos!’, but mostly i don’t like being on public display. i don’t regret being tattooed, and i won’t stop getting more, but it’s just another way that, as a woman, my body becomes a thing to discuss and touch without my consent. ]
the process to take one wet plate photo is quite interesting: first, we worked out the posing, then fred retired to his darkroom to prepare the plate, which takes nearly ten minutes. then he comes back and takes the photo; the exposure took eight or nine seconds. after that, he has to take the plate back to the darkroom and develop it immediately. he let me watch the plates develop–it was kind of like watching a polaroid!
when i was younger, i used to be kind of scared by black & white images of people with light eyes–sometimes it looks like their irises have no colour. i’m really excited to now have a ghost-eyes photo of myself!