This carefully hidden project finally saw the light of day and now the light of my blog 🙂
21st of June
I received a call. I hardly ever pick up my phone so I had to return the call. Menno picked up when I did, marketing manager at the B32 group. He said he saw my website and was excited about the collodion imagery. He asked me to have a cup of coffee with him as he wanted to talk about an interesting proposal he had in mind. The 27th of that month we sat down in a bar in Maastricht and he began to tell the story of Silvercreek, a clothing brand under the flag of Open32 / Blue32, with 65 shops in the Netherlands.
They are in the process of putting Silvercreek into the market as a stand-alone brand, like Levi’s and G-Star for example, with their dedicated stores. Silvercreek used to be a small mining town in America, now used by artisans who gave it new life after the mines closed. Inspired by this, Silvercreek thought it would be a great idea bring back craftsmanship and let ‘New Artisans’ tell their story.
So the first season they approached a furniture maker with whom they worked together. The second season they worked together with Evelien van Zonneveld from Werfzeep, who they visually followed in her process of soap-making, wearing clothes by Silvercreek. They also worked together with Frank Abbenhuis from Witloft, who they also followed in his process of apron-making.
In short “New Artisans” are asked to tell their story in front of the camera while wearing Silvercreak clothing. But also to create something in collaboration with Silvercreek. Evelien designed a special soap together with Silvercreek to be sold in their stores. Frank designed a special apron for them.
Back to the coffee… “So…,Menno continued his story, this brings us to the point why I am here. Would you be interested in being our next “New Artisan” for the FallWinter collection of 2016?”
Wow… I remembered him asking if I wanted to sleep a night over it before answering. No need for that, I replied. Of course I want to do this! He had a thing for black-and-white photography and the craftsmanship involved in making the wet plate collodion imagery. The mood in the collodion images fitted their look-book perfectly so I immediately felt a click with their approach. The only thing was that they were in a bit of a hurry as the new collection would hit stores in September. If I were able to plan a date soon where he would get the entire team together to shoot the event… The rest is history 😉
14th of July
9 0’clock in the morning, the bell rang. The make-up artist, Judith Pronk, arrived. It took the rest about half an hour more to gather. The rest of the team was made up by: Renee Ferron (stylist), Gijs Spierings (photographer), Sherman Emers (videographer) and of course Menno himself. At first hair & make-up, then clothing. I will let the images speak for themselves, but it was a great day. Lots of laughing, laughing until the tears rolled down my cheeks. Let’s say Judith had some work that day 😉 We shot images while me playing around with some of my cameras, some posed, some not so much. But the most cool part was that I was going to shoot a wet plate, and that they could follow the entire process of making them.
Explaining the process from start to finish took up a lot of time, including cleaning and everything. We first decided to do a portrait of me, the camera handled by Erik (focusing and exposing), while the chemistry and handling of the plate remained with me. We then planned to do a shot of the new jeans in their collection to make the circle round but time simply went too fast. When the clock hit 8 in the evening we all said goodbye and a truly wonderful day came to an end. To be continued.
We all kept in touch, I received all images from the shoot (wow), and Menno and I talked about the jeans some more. We both liked the idea to do an actual proper wet plate exposure of both new jeans models, copper for men, and amber for the ladies. So, it happened. On the 24th of August Menno arrived in my studio again, to shoot the jeans. Fantastic! Fabric looks so dead-gorgeous on wet plate! Everyone was happy. The images are going to be used as the campaign shots for these jeans, which is fantastic! They will be shown in a lot of places, even in bus shelters (sorry for all the exclamation marks haha)!
On top of that shoot, he had another proposal for me; As I was now the female “New Artisan” using old photographic techniques, they figured it would be awesome to put Gijs opposite of me as the male “New Artisan” using modern photographic techniques. And that it would be cool if I were to shoot Gijs for these series. WowWowWow! Never expected that to happen! So, I had to shoot a part digitally, funny as I ended up using a Canon EOS 5ds (I don’t like working with Canon AT ALL, but it was okay ;-)) But I was also asked to shoot a wet plate of Gijs, one with one of his cars, and one portrait just like mine.
Images of my shoot:
26th of August
I took of to Veghel where we planned the shoot at the “Koekbouw”, an awesome industrial spot there. The even more cool thing about this shoot was that Gijs normally photographs cars, Mercedes for example. And I just happen to love cars so it all came together! He arranged two cars for this shoot and I would follow him while photographing these. One was a Ferrari 348TS, and the other an old Mustang from 1965, both in impeccable condition. Both awesome as hell! Once again a great day! For collodion however, it was quite hard; temperature that day was 31 degrees. Still issues with my fixing bath giving spots, as became clear after the shoot; rinsing capabilities were limited and no KCN anymore for me. So, not a perfect shoot wet plate-wise but awesome nonetheless!
Apart from the story of Gijs and me, there were two more artisans asked for this edition: a couple working together as blacksmiths under the name of Atelier 79. They designed and produced a special coin for Silvercreek which will be in the pockets of the new male jeans when you buy one. This refers to the coin in mine-workers’ jeans to identify the deceased. And a cool necklace for the ladies in the shape of a paroquet, which were used in the mines to warn for gas leaks. Great people to have met and I’m looking forward seeing their atelier in person!
Images of Gijs, shot by me and edited by Gijs, the man himself
12th of September
The big national presentation of the FallWinter Collection 2016 🙂 Everyone, every employee in their stores, all who helped, all who modeled, got invited to join the presentation party which was held at the Koekbouw in Veghel. Of course we went too, and it was fantastic beyond words. Menno told me a little of what was going to happen but he kept the best part silent. We got there at around 7 in the evening. Got something to eat and drink, and watched all people walk in Silvercreek clothing, which was a pretty surreal sight on its own.
The jeans on wet plate collodion, 8×10″:
An official opening speech, live music, and a place where all new collections of all brands they represent at Open32, were shown. At a little over 10 we got to the special event that was announced earlier on that evening. It’s where they were to introduce their new jeans line in a spectacular kind of way. We were invited by Menno for a little sneak-preview before that moment. Luckily. Because what I saw when we entered that space…it was quite moving. This space is huge, about 100 metres in length, and impressive on its own. It was the same space we used for the shoot a few weeks back. To dress it up properly is quite the challenge. They succeeded. Big time. The space was entirely empty except for 4 HUGE drapes hanging from the ceiling behind each other in the middle of the space. Each drape spanned 5 by 3 metres… and contained my wet plate images! The first was the portrait of myself, the second the amber version of the jeans, the third the portrait of Gijs and the fourth the copper version of the jeans. I was stunned and overwhelmed. I never expected anything like this.
After that private sneak-preview everyone was invited into the hall, and the jeans were presented in a different coolish manner-style. Menno bought an SRV-wagon about a year ago and completely revitalised it, turning it into an actual driving Silvercreek selling point, which contained all the new jeans. Everybody received a special coin upon arriving that evening and with that coin, it became clear that it was to be used as a voucher for a free pair of new jeans for everyone! Cool huh! Everybody jumped the wagon of course 😉
The evening ended with some lovely dancing on beats and strings from the band. And with that this story also comes to an end. For now that is. This story is anything but over so….to be continued 🙂
Above images of the presentation courtesy of Erik Slangen.
Check this link over here —> sc-fw-2016-magazine-3108_lres_spreads for the original pdf of the new Silvercreek Magazine and knock yourself out!
Credits: All images where I am on, unless stated otherwise, copyright by Gijs Spierings Photography.
One other project I ran into, yesterday that was, again via Facebook, is the Fotokemika project. Fotokemika, known for the production of eFKe films were forced to seize production, presumably monetary issues, and in the summer of 2012 the factory closed their doors.The factory is in danger of being destroyed and with it lots of valuable information will be lost forever.
This is where two female photographers jump in. Sanja Harris is a photographer living in The Netherlands and Ana Cvetković is a journalist and pr marketer living in Croatia. Their goal is to save the factory and its heritage. In the past both their families have put heart and soul into their work at the Fotokemika factory in the Croatian town of Samobor. This probably formed the root of their passion to save it.
As can be found on their website dedicated to this project and hefty endeavour they have set up a couple of goals:
- To save the factory and all that is inside it: the machines, the furniture, the thermometers, wall posters and all the archives.
- To convert the factory into an authentic museum.
- To expand the archives by documenting as much information as possible, as a lot of valuable knowledge of this historical filmmaking has not been recorded and is known to no other then Fotokemika’s specialized former employees.
- To set up exhibitions unveiling the history of the company, the techniques and showing how Fotokemika was part of the employees working and private lives.
- To create a visual overview showing the export lines and how the films were part of people’s lives all over the world, covering the fields of commerce, industry, fine arts and the social aspects of an era.
- To work together with local and international artists, combining the old techniques and knowledge with the magnificent possibilities of today, as history is part of the present and the future.
- To organize events and manifestations.
I’m always up to support these kind of interesting projects which try to save and preserve heritage for future sake. Although at first I thought they had planned to start up the production of eFKe films but after a brief email exchange I found out that quite a bit of the machinery had been removed from the factory despite their efforts to save them. Because of this production of the film is, at this point, impossible. However, the future holds many things unknown to us, and this might be one of them! The plans they have for this facility sound exciting on their own anyway.
As of yet this has not been turned in a crowd funding project. “Once the factory is safe from harm”, they say, “we can start a concrete crowd funding action”.
They will need funding to renovate the factory and turn it into a museum, but firstly they need to convince people to save some bricks, interior and papers, convince them of their importance.
I ran across this Kickstarter project on Facebook today and it looks really cool! I will certainly be a backer to support their efforts.
Travelwide is meant as an ultralight thus highly portable 4×5″ camera. 4×5″ is a wonderful format, a lot bigger than 35mm with a far smaller depth of field than 35mm (yuyy) but if you want to take that on the go it’s going to be either big, lug, heavy and maybe reasonably affordable or small, compact but expensive. Depending on your demands this might be the right-in-between you’re looking for.
Personally I’m still looking to buy a 4×5″ field camera to shoot collodion negatives on location, or better said, still looking for that fortune well filled with mighty shiny golden coins. For me, this camera isn’t going to work. I’m looking for a decent GG, the options for tilt-and-shift and sturdy material that will outlast the biting fury of the collodion chemistry, mostly the silver nitrate. But I’m a spoiled little brat anyway so who cares 😉
The other upside of this camera besides obviously its weight (630 g fully loaded) and portability is its price…there’s not much else you can get for $99,- that will allow you to shoot 4×5″! For this price you will get a camera, sport finder, a pinhole thing and..I think that’s it.
There are also two models to choose from: 1 is the Travelwide 90 and the other is the Travelwide 65. The 90 is designed to use with an Angulon 90mm lens while the 65 is designed for an Angulon 65mm lens, for the uber-wide angle lovers.
Anyway, the people from Wanderlust Cameras are far better able to tell you what the project and cameras are all about so have a look at their Kickstarter Page.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering (although I would be offended if you were):
I am in no way affiliated with Wanderlust Cameras or Kickstarter. I don’t get paid to tell nice stories about people, projects etc. I just like to tell and share nice stories if that’s okay with you 😉
At the end of 2012 I joined the project “The Mask Series”, an initiative started by Shane Balkowitsch, which is an international collaboration of artists working with the wet plate collodion process photographing the same object, in this case, a Czech M10 gas mask (see image above).
The goal for this series is to raise awareness of the historic wet plate technique as an art form. This will allow artists that normally do not have a chance to share their work to participate in a collaborated effort with other artists from around the world. The ultimate goal is to have the collection shown in a gallery as a complete body of work or have it published in a book.
The prop that must be used in each image is a vintage Czech M10 gas mask. This ambiguous prop from decades ago is perfect for this series. It levels the playing field for each artist. It also highlights and allows the perspective, composition and personal taste of the artist to be the focus. Some artists may find it an inspiration, while others may view it to be a crutch or hindrance. The end result will be the unique vision of each individual artist.
Gas masks have historically been used to protect people and citizens usually in times of war. In other situations a mask can be used to hide the identity of its wearer. The gas mask is also very symbolic to the wet plate process since many hazardous and caustic chemicals are used during the development of the images and most wet plate studios use gas masks on a daily basis. This type of vintage gas mask also has a presence and cannot be easily ignored. If the prop used for this process was a shirt or hat for instance, someone may not draw a line from one artist image to another’s. With the gas mask, the viewer will quickly realize the common thread amongst the pieces of work, and can then identify and understand the purpose of the collection.
If you have any questions, comments or want to participate as an artist, please contact:
4419 Centurion Dr.
Bismarck, ND 58504 USA
Or check his website about the project.