Monday, May 01, 2006

On Daguerreotypy

Daguerreotypes are mysterious and beautiful. Their images--positive, negative and mirror at the same time--have an amazing sense of depth and delicacy. The process, although difficult, toxic, and expensive, is highly enjoyable and meditative, combining the skills of jeweler, chemist, photographer and bookbinder. Yet the most intriguing aspect of the Daguerreotype for me is its "presence", or to make up a word, its thing-ness. This seems particularly important in the age of digital reproduction. A Daguerreotype, unlike a screen image and even the most perfect silver, platinum, or albumen print, is foremost a three dimensional object. Made of copper, silver, and glass they are surprisingly heavy, yet seem to fit perfectly in the palm of a hand. Finally, daguerreotypes are all flawed. Producing a perfect blemish-free image is near impossible. I find something comforting in being forced to leave so much to chance.

Originally Published by The Online Photographer