About the Process
Introduced by sculptor Frederick Scott Archer in 1851, wet plate collodion photography was a primary documentation tool during the US Civil War, then a celebrated trade by itinerant photographers through the early 1900s. Part alchemy, part labor of love, wet plate collodion photography involves coating a metal or glass plate with light-sensitive chemistry to create an image.
Tintype exposures are very slow compared to modern camera photography, so preparation and processing take time. After a 1-3 second exposure with sunlight, the image comes alive in pure silver highlights and black shadows, forever fixed on the plate. Each plate is a unique vision of its subject, and a product of many variables, chemical formulas, and techniques. Lovely in their imperfections, the metallic surface and high level of detail in tintypes could never be duplicated with a digital process or filter!
The 19th-century tintype process used thinly-hammered iron as a substrate, but present-day tintypes use sheets of enameled aluminum, which will last for generations when properly cared for! I can't wait to share this historical process with you, and am sure we'll both learn something from one another.
About Me (Rudy Salgado)
Born and raised in southern California, I received an MFA in Printmaking with a minor in Ceramics at the University of Iowa, and a BFA in Printmaking from California State University, Chico. In 2012, I moved to Louisville, KY with my partner and fellow artist Susanna Crum to start the city's first shared printmaking workspace, Calliope Arts.
I've always loved the complex techniques related to printmaking and ceramics, and find lots of overlap with the intensive processes and craft of wet plate collodion photography. The history of the tintype process is particularly interesting to me, as a tintypist often saw themselves more as artists or traveling showmen rather than fine art photographers - particularly because they made unique images instead of mass-produced editions. Though I use many of the same materials as they did in the 1850s, being a tintype artist in the 21st century is especially exciting because of social media platforms and forums - I'm able to contribute to conversations with an international community of tintype artists.
I've had the pleasure of working as an artist and educator with some of the region's very best arts organizations, including as a Visual Arts faculty member at Kentucky's Governor's School for the Arts (2017-18), Louisville Visual Art Academy (2013-19), and St Francis School, where I was Artist-in-Residence (2019-20). I've also had the opportunity to show my artwork and travel around the world, including recent artist residencies at Kunstnarhuset Messen, Alvik, Norway; Kala Art Institute, Berkeley, CA; Edinburgh Printmakers, Edinburgh, Scotland; and Mildred's Lane, a 94-acre installation and research space in Beach Lake, PA created by J Morgan Puett and Mark Dion.
To learn more about my personal work, visit my artist website at www.rodolfosalgadojr.com.