Everyone is a photographer these days. Digital photography is the great leveller – allowing anyone to turn their iPhone snaps into a square format masterpiece.
During the summer we were working on The Arthur Guinness projects. We wanted people to vote for the brilliant projects that were being uploaded to the website. So we decided to give the ad space to the people who were creating the projects.
We needed to make a press ad as unique as the people who had submitted their projects. We wanted to show these people at their most real, but in the age of Photoshop and filters how were we going to do this?
The solution presented itself in the form of a 19th century, plate photography technique – Tintype. This form of wet plate photography created one-off high contrast shots, which were like bespoke pieces of art.
We found the only man in Ireland who shoots Tintype, Alex Sapienza. Alex owns the Analogue Studio and it was there that we shot our project creators.
The process was magic, like a strange mix of art and chemistry.
Each day one of the project creators would come to Alex’s cosy studio. First of all we’d chat over a cup of tea to find out all about them and their project. Then Alex would sit them down in front of his amazing old camera and take their portrait.
Developing the picture was the best part. The precise use of the chemicals. The image blossoming to life on the plate. It never failed to amaze everyone.
The shots themselves were beautiful and striking portraits. They captured these talented people at their most real. More importantly this was the perfect antidote to digital photography – handmade, one-off pieces of art.
In the end I think we created a set of images that were bigger than the job they had to do. That’s a rare thing in this business.