Wet plate engagement photography: heirloom wedding images

Feb 11, 2016


So.  This post has actually been a number of years in the making.

We live in a world where images are around us constantly, we see and consume more images than ever before, we take more pictures, we record every second of our lives – whether it is worth recording or not – and we share it with everyone.  But what if we have lost something?  What if we have lost the act of production? The very act of holding a thing in your hand, a photograph, a memory, a possession.

My marvellous friend Bex & I started working with wet plate photography  few years ago, partially as a reaction to this impermanence, and partially because it is the very opposite of the way we as photographers work in the 21st century.  Wild Aesthetic was born. We worked out of hired darkrooms, a converted burger van, and even a tent for, ahem, ‘hydroponics’, but we needed a consistent and reliable area, and now we have it, in the form of our small but perfectly formed Southampton studio.

For those of you whom might not of heard of it, wet plate photography was one of the earliest photographic practices.  You take a surface to be used (we normally use blackened aluminium, meaning ours are more commonly known as tintypes, but you can use glass, perspex, and many other materials), and coat it with collodion, sensitise it in a silver bath, and shoot it as you would do film.  Well, almost.  It needs to be prepared, exposed & developed in  around 15 minutes so its not something you could take on holiday…  The collodion exposure times can vary tremendously too. Our set up commonly has exposure times from 5-15 seconds or longer, meaning our subjects need to keep still for anything up to a minute.  While this can be overcome by a motherload of flash, personally I enjoy the stillness. You can’t grin or gurn, pose & preen.  There is just you & the camera & me.  And whatever that combination gives us.  It can be an uncompromising process, but the visual aesthetic is quite extraordinary.

I have been looking for a way to incorporate this into my wedding work, so from March, I will be offering my couples the chance to have an engagement shoot that is very different to the norm.  You will come to the studio, and sit for individual images and an image of you both together (see examples below), and take away a one-of a-kind plates that will last a lifetime.  These sessions can be an add-on to your wedding package, or they can replace a traditional engagement shoot.

Please contact me for further details, and if you aren’t getting married but want us to catch you in silver, please do email me at info@wildaesthetic.co.uk


Wet plate wedding & engagement photographs

Bride for Kelly Spence by Wild Aesthetic/Angela Ward Brown


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I shoot creative, modern wedding photography in Winchester, Hampshire, and throughout the UK. Wherever you are planning to say 'I do', and to whom, please get in touch.