Why We Do It

Ajeya 8x10 alumitype - wet plate collodion shot with Goerz lens
San Francisco Vintage Photography is a project developed to explore wet plates, a vintage hand-crafted photographic process that doesn't need any mass produced materials. We are able to mix available chemicals to produce incredibly sharp permanent silver images on glossy black metal plates.

Digital photography has taken over film photography, and companies like Kodak and Polaroid are no longer providing photographers with their favorite B&W or color emulsions. Rather than depend on some new company to produce factory made emulsions and photo materials, we are mixing and making our own.

Digital is great for our computer and internet age where everything is saved in the cloud, but what about having something you can touch and feel, a photo you can hold in your hands, look at, and move around to see how the light affects it.

Lily, 8x10 alumitype - wet plate collodion shot with Goerz lens

We are like the pioneers of photography back in the 1850s - like old time alchemists, mixing our own chemicals and developing our plates by hand. We are echoing the days before Eastman Kodak produced factory made emulsions for the masses. This is photography at its most purest form - no manipulation after the fact, no effects, no darkroom adjustments. Exposure and lighting have to be optimum, because there is no fixing it in post.

Yes, wet plate photography is harder to master and takes a lot more preparation and time. The cameras are large and there is more equipment needed. A darkroom is essential the moment after your photo is taken, but the amazing quality and permanence of the images is worth all the trouble.