Jade has an obsession with tintype photography and knew she had to hunt down an expert in Portland… enter Giles.
We found out Giles Clement had a booth set up at the Portland Flea. He specializes in Wet Plate Collodian Process photography, but also does other types of film photography and large format photography. He is an interesting individual to say the least, having traveled all over the US the past few years capturing some amazing images and beautiful sights. He is currently based here in Portland however, where he maintains a modest studio which I would classify as a true artists work space. He has examples of his work strewn about, a space in the corner with a work desk covered in bottles of chemicals and works tools, a make shift dark room to insure every creation comes out perfectly, and a studio assistant in the form of an Irish terrier named Zeiss.
We came in to the studio one sunny afternoon to find out more about the process, but ended up finding out more about Giles himself. He seems to be a restless wandering soul, like many incredibly talented artists, maintaing century old artistic traditions. Wet Plate Collodian Process photography has been around for over a century and is one of the first kinds of photography invented. It’s a painstaking process of mixing chemicals such as bromide, Pyroxylin and ether, put on a plate glass or metal, dried, the plate immersed in a silver nitrate solution, pulled out and put into the camera wet, as the name of the process entails. After the photo is taken there are even more steps of immersion and buffing the plate, and even fire from a bunsen burner comes into the equation. This is not a process for the faint of heart and obviously takes someone who has a passion for the process to do it.
Giles is practicing his craft daily and is available for appointments through email or phone. He was recently featured on Oregon Art Beat on PBS showing the process and what he does best. We’re hoping more people find Giles to make sure he is able to stay in the Portland area. His kind of skills and artistic talent are something we highly value and believe we need to keep around here. We will cherish our plates forever.