Matthew Schenning is a Brooklyn based photographer originally from Baltimore, MD where he spent his youth playing in the abandoned spaces under highway overpasses. After studying sculpture at the University of Maryland he turned his focus toward photography as a means to understand his relationship to his surroundings. Making most his work while travelling, he photographs the landscape with a large format camera favoring the slow and deliberate way of working. He has been included in many exhibitions both in the United States and Europe. His work was featured in the first edition of The Collector’s Guide to Emerging Art Photography published by the Humble Arts Foundation and most recently in the exhibition catalogue for If This Is It published by Waal-boght Press.
For more than a century, ironworkers descended from the Mohawk Indians of Quebec have helped create New York City’s iconic skyline, guiding ribbons of metal into the steel skeletons that form the backbone of the city. In the tradition of their fathers and grandfathers, a new generation of Mohawk iron workers now descend upon the World Trade Center site, helping shape the most distinct feature of Lower Manhattan—the same iconic structure their fathers and grandfathers helped erect 40 years ago and later dismantled after it was destroyed in 2001.
Driving some 360 miles south to New York from the Kahnawake reserve near Quebec, these men work—just as their fathers did—in the city during the week and spend time with their families on the weekends.
One year ago, around the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, photographer Melissa Cacciola began documenting some of these workers—not an easy task given that the roughly 200 Mohawks (of more than 2,000 iron workers on site) are working at a frantic pace, helping One World Trade Center to rise a floor a week.
Cacciola, a photographer with a background in chemistry and historic preservation, is one of few photographers who work exclusively with tintypes, images recorded by a large-format camera on sheets of tin coated with photosensitive chemicals. Having previously photographed members of the armed-forces for her War and Peace series, Cacciola looked to document those continuing to help the city move past the shadow of tragedy.
“It seemed like a real New York thing,” she told TIME. “And it made sense as the next chapter in the post-9/11 landscape. Rebuilding is part of that story.”
Just as towers like the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center mark the height of America’s skyscraper architecture, tintype photographs are inherently American. Tintype developed in the 1850s as early American photographers looked for alternatives to the expensive and finicky glass-plate processes popular in Europe. Recycled tin was a readily available resource in the new nation—less than 100 years old—and so the tintype grew in popularity, earning its place in American photographic identity. Even Abraham Lincoln’s campaign pins contained an inlaid tintype portrait of the candidate.
“You don’t find tintypes on other continents,” Cacciola said.
Slightly blurry and sepia-toned, Cacciola’s portraits feel timeless, save for the occasional modern stickers on her subjects’ hardhats. Each portrait focuses tightly on the men’s strong facial features.
The 30 tintypes in the series are each made from bulk sheets of tin, although Cacciola has also used recycled biscuit jars in prior tintype projects. Coated first with a black lacquer and then a layer of collodion emulsion to make them light sensitive, the plates are dipped in a silver bath immediately before exposure to form silver iodide—a step that bonds actual particles of silver to the emulsion. Nothing could be more fitting for men working with steel to be photographed on metal.
In the tradition of 19th-century photography, Cacciola’s process is slower than today’s digital systems. But the finished plates are more than simple portraits; rather, they hold their own weight as tangible objects. Just as histories often reflect the blemishes of times past, Cacciola’s tintypes are fragile, containing marks and slight imperfect artifacts that reflect the medium’s limitations. Working by hand rather than machine, each portrait records the artist’s intentions as much as her subject’s.
“These tintypes are so much a part of me,” she says. “Like the fact that you get partial fingerprints or artifacts from the way I’m pouring collodion on the plate—it’s all human. The way silver and light interact in this chemical reaction is a testament to the Mohawk iron workers and this early [photographic] process—it’s unparalleled in terms of portraiture.”
Melissa Cacciola is a New York-based tintype photographer.
Guy Sargent (b. 1965) photographs both landscape and architecture using a large format camera. He works on various ongoing projects; What Lies Beneath the Surface, London, a Personal View, Common Progress and, most recently, From here, we control everything… His work has been published in magazines such as Ag: The International Journal of Photographic Art & Practice and AV Proyectos. Exhibitions include the Royal Academy of Arts – "Summer Exhibition" 2009 and 2011 and The Association of Photographers (UK) Open Awards. His work is available from Lux Archive in New York and Wanted in Paris. He lives in London.
This week I am featuring artists exhibiting in Verve Gallery’s Do Process exhibition, showcasing eight unique approaches to the photographic process.
Brigitte Carnochan has been showcasing her exquisite hand-painted silver gelatin prints of nudes and still lifes for many year, and that’s exactly what she exhibits at the Verve Gallery. Brigitte begins her process by using a medium or large format camera to produce negatives rich with information. She then makes a black and white silver gelatin print with a matte finish. Finally, she judiciously and artistically applies oil paints onto the dried print. Some of her nudes take an hour to paint, whereas some of the still lifes can take up to as much as six hours to finish. Because each printis hand painted, no two of Brigitte’s hand-painted photographs in any edition are identical.
Brigitte’s photographs are represented in museum, corporate and private collections. Modernbook Editions published Carnochan’s hand-painted images, Bella Figura: Painted Photographs, in 2006. A limited edition monograph, The Shining Path, was also published in 2006 by 21st Publications. Carnochan was named a Hasselblad Master Photographer for 2003 and her work has been recently featured on covers of Camera Arts and Silvershotz and in Color, Lenswork, Zoom, View Camera, Polaroid, Black and White, and Studija magazines. Three catalogs of her previous work have been published. She teaches photography classes at Stanford University’s Continuing Studies program.
Hand-coloring photographs, manually adding color to a black and white print, is almost as old as photography itself. The announcement of the invention of the Daguerreotype in 1830 was accompanied by an almost apologetic disappointment that there was an absence of color on the print. Daguerre and his successors tried assiduously to find a way to fix an image with the “colors of nature,” but without success. As early as 1841, a few of Fox Talbot’s assistants were experimenting by applying watercolor, oils, pastels, dyes, or color pencils to the matte-surface paper of calotypes. Quickly, hand-colored pictures became the norm for those wishing to have their photographic portraits ‘touched up.’ This hand-coloring craft took great skill and because of demand, many portrait painters of the time turned to becoming photographic print hand-colorists. You probably have photographs of your ancestors from the early part of the 20th century that are hand colored.
Cathleen Naundorf, 1968, Germany, is a fashion and fine-art photographer. Her career started as a photo assistant in New York, Singapore and Paris. In 1993 she started traveling to countries as Mongolia, Siberia and Brazil. The pictures made over the years had been published in eight publications of large publishers. In 1997 she started photographing for the Süddeutsche Zeitung with a fashion page of her own. Seven years ago she visited Jean-Paul Gaultier to ask him to lend one or two dresses to photograph. He was so impressed by the work that he gave her access to his entire collection. Since then she has been shooting for Gaultier, Dior, Lacroix, Chanel, Elle Saab and Valentino. She exclusively works on large format camera’s (4×5″ and 8×10″) using polaroid films. She is also granted free choice of models, locations and hair and make-up designers. A publication of her haute couture series is scheduled in 2012. Her work has been exhibited at several venues in Europe and the USA. The following images come from her portfolio’s Fashion – B&W, Fashion – Color and Vs- Magazine – 2011.
In her projects, Corinne May Botz reveals a dark obsession with domestic space and what lies behind closed doors. Often times the home is used as a stage to explore mysterious moments about life and fears of death. This is evidenced in her past series which include her book The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death (The Monacelli Press, 2004), where she photographed models of crime scenes based on actual homicides, suicides and accidental deaths created to train detectives to assess visual evidence. In the project Murder Objects, she photographed household items that were used as evidence in violent crimes, and in Parameters, she explores the homes where agoraphobics live. What eventually comes together in all of this work is an idea of how we use seeing to come to terms with something invisible like crimes we didn’t witness or fears that are unexplainable.
Her latest book Haunted Houses is no different and uses photography as a way of exploring an invisible history of the spaces we live in. Here, Botz tells TIME what inspired the project:
“The first thing that inspired the project were writers like Edith Wharton, Charlotte Bronte and even Toni Morrison. Often these ghost stories were written by women as a means of articulating domestic discontents. I was interested in the idea of a woman being trapped in the home or by domestic space and how this was expressed in history. That combined with the desire to travel led me to photographing the houses.
It has almost become a right of passage for photographer to go on a road trip like Robert Frank or Stephen Shore and traditionally it’s work about public spaces but this project is about private spaces. It’s amazing how many people let me into their homes.
A lot of time I would just show up and knock on the door. When I photographed in haunted houses, I tried to open myself to the invisible nuances of a space. I photographed using a large format camera, with exposures often ranging from a few seconds to a few hours. Though the medium of the visible, photography makes the invisible apparent. By collecting extensive evidence of the surface, one becomes aware of what is missing, and a space is provided for the viewer to imagine the invisible.
I worked on the project, on and off, for 10 years photographing over 100 houses and recording over 50 oral ghost histories. (You can listen to them here)
Unlike the majority of horror films where the ghosts arrive as a result of an inopportune death, or to right a wrong, the inhabitants of these houses are often at a loss for why the ghosts are there, and in some cases the ghost is considered a source of comfort.”
In terms of people…many of them like their ghosts and and the comfort of not being alone, they like these caretakers protecting the house and having these histories attached to their house. They like having their everyday life have some kind of surprise or mystery to it.”
Haunted Houses (The Monacelli Press) is available here. Corinne May Botz’s work is currently part of Crime Unseen at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, which is on display through Jan. 15.
Daniel Gordon, 1980, USA, is a conceptual photographer who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He received a BA at Bard College in 2003 and an MFA at Yale University in 2006. He works in a sculptural way. He searches on the internet for images that he can use. The images he finds are printed and cut in order to make large three dimensional collages. These collages are life-size, using his own body as a reference. Once the collages are finished he photographs them with a large format camera. After the photograph has been made he disassembles the sculptures in order to use several body parts for new works. In his series Thin Skin II he depicts the human body in extreme situations as giving birth, accidents and operations. Both of his parents were doctors and he feels that seeing the images of operations when he was young have influenced him in his work today. His photographs have been exhibited extensively in the US and several times in Switzerland and France. The following works come from the series Still Lifes, Portraits & Parts, Portrait Studio and Thin Skin II.
Henrik Isaksson Garnell, 1987, Sweden, is a young, unconventional and experimental photographer. For his series Un-plugged 2.0 he worked as a sculptor. He combined items we can find in nature with technology. Bones, moose teeth, plants and other organic objects are put together with wires, lights and other man-made objects. Once the new life forms were finished he photographed the creatures using a large-format camera against a black background. The aesthetic images are haunting and resemble creatures formed by a scientist who might not be from this planet. Henrik uses various forms of sculpture-making aswell as a large array of techniques in photography. In recent years he has exhibited his work at various venues in Stockholm, but also in several other European cities. The following images come from the series Un-plugged 2.0, Ápsis and Fetus.