Capture on Collodion - Sean Hawkey
East Sussex based photographer Sean Hawkey has worked across the world as a documentary photographer. His work as a photo journalist has led him to evaluate the impact of the photograph on the story of the people's lives he has captured and for this exhibition Hawkey chose to work exclusively with the Victorian wet plate collodion process.
He uses a large format camera and lens from the 1870’s and the process is a complex layering of chemicals including silver nitrate on a tin plate, which is exposed to light through the camera lens before being developed, and producing just one single image. The images are filled with imperfections that make each image unique, ethereal and beautiful.
The exhibition also features historic photographs, cameras and processing equipment from the collections of Tunbridge Wells Museum & Art Gallery. Images by pioneering Victorian photographer Thomas Sims, who worked in Tunbridge Wells between 1868 and 1910, highlight the process of making a portrait using daguerreotype and collodion plate techniques.
I had the pleasure of sitting for a portrait, which is featured in the exhibition. As a sitter, Sean takes you through the entire process, showing you how he prepares the plates with chemicals and sets up the camera. Each exposure last around 10 seconds, and after you see your portrait emerge as if from the past in the developing process.
Capture on Collodion is not to be missed! 27th January - 20th May 2017, Tunbridge Wells Museum & Art Gallery.
Written by Jasmine Faaram