Ed Ross is a photographer based in California. He uses three cameras; a half-plate box-style camera (made by Ty Guillory), an 8×10 bellows-style camera (made by Black Art Woodcraft), and a 16×20 Chamonix. He uses ‘period’ lenses, manufactured between 1850 to 1900, by Dallmeyer, Voigtlander, and Ross.
In an age when we can shoot hundreds of digital images a day, and often think nothing of doing so, it is intriguing and fun to peer into realms of Ed’s more considered, and sedate world.
Ed explains that his tintype images start to appear after about five minutes of processing. Both he and his model get to view the image at the same time and consider together how best to proceed with the next plate. Each new plate takes about fifteen minutes altogether to expose and develop, so he can shoot no more than four plates an hour, and says that he is, ‘Usually out of energy after three hours.’
To accompany his printed photographic essay in our launch issue, we caught up with Ed to have a quick chat about his work. The full interview is printed within the magazine, but below is a sneak preview.
Do you think that the appearance of an older, non-digital photographic process adds a level of ‘worthiness’ to the resulting photographs?
I don’t see wet plate images as having a higher level of worthiness. I think that most photographers and their models attribute worth to the end results that they get, and not the process. However, shooting a few hours of wet plate is quite a laborious process for me, and if anything I think that the models leave with an appreciation for the laboriousness and fickleness of the process that they likely didn’t have before they experienced it. But I think that’s true of observing any craftsman for the first time.
What are you trying to achieve in creating erotic photography?
I don’t set out to create an erotic image for myself or for others; I set about to create something that I think is beautiful. My objective is simply to make a good photograph – a beautiful image that will stand the test of time and one that I would want on my wall. I shoot many different genres, but I think creating good erotic photography is one of the most challenging genres to do well because erotic imagery is so commonly scrutinized and criticized for a plethora of reasons, whether it is ‘objectification’ or ‘base’, etc. Accordingly, I think a superlative erotic photograph needs in many ways to be better in composition and content to rise above the chatter of the societal criticisms, so as to stand on its own as a good photograph.