Like everyone else, I’m completely taken with Daniel Carrillo’s photographs of Seattle artists using the Wet Plate Collodion process. I can’t stop looking at them. He’s captured a specific, intense quality of each of his subjects. Viewing the portraits of the people I know, I actually feel that I now know them better. I am used to seeing photographs of these friends and acquaintances on Facebook, but Daniel’s images are something else entirely. They’ve got the aura that supposedly died as mechanical reproduction was born. Would these portraits have been possible using a contemporary (digital) process?
Generally, we relentless, digital-age, everyday photographers do a lot of self-editing. Facebook is flooded with head shots taken exactly one arm’s length away. Moving through the world with our cameras, we bask in the freedom to shoot hundreds of photos, trigger happy and swept up in the moment. So, with Daniel’s portraits, I’m struck by the way these subjects had no control over their resulting pictures. Their images were completely in the hands of the photographer, and in his ability to manipulate a complicated process. What results is an intricate vulnerability; an intimacy that you wouldn’t expect from a posed portrait shot over many seconds.