“Melvin Moore, 2008” © Ellen Susan
Photographer Ellen Susan makes portraits of active-duty soldiers in the US Army using the wet plate collodion process, the primary photographic method used during the Civil War. Her portraits are included in “surFACE: Contemporary Wet Plate Collodion Portraiture,” now on view at Photo Center NW in Seattle. The show features tintypes and ambrotypes by five contemporary photographers who use the nineteenth-century wet plate technique: Ellen Susan, Daniel Carrillo, Robb Kendrick, Jenny Sampson and Joni Sternbach.
Susan, who lives near two major Army installations, uses the deliberative, careful process to show members of the military in a way that invites a second look. The slow process requires her subjects to remain still for up to 60 seconds, gazing intently at the camera. Each detailed, grainless ambrotype she produces, PCNW notes, “engages viewers in a manner that is distinct from the casually made, ephemeral images that have become so familiar.”
The exhibition is on view at PCNW through February 12.