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Abby’s project

Nelson's Gold Toner - Wet Plate Collodion Negative - Ilford Warmtone Semi-Matt Contact Silver Gelatin Print - © Tim Layton, All Rights Reserved, 2023 -

I am engaging in flower photography through the lens of a 19th-century Pictorialist perspective. This creative approach is borne from profound emotional turmoil following the loss of my youngest daughter, Abby.

Abby was the youngest of my five kids and my baby. I nicknamed her Peanut because she was so small and cute. Even when she became a teenager and young adult, she loved for me to call her Peanut still.

Abby was only 21 when she was tragically killed in a car accident on her way home from school. Her loss leaves an indescribable void and sense of loss in me. I needed to find a way to express my emotions and begin to heal, so I decided to pursue a creative project.

This project helps me in multiple ways. First, it helps me keep her memory alive positively and tangibly. It provides a means for me to cope and constructively deal with heavy emotions. It has turned into a way for me to spend time with her.

You can read the articles that I publish sharing every step of my creative journey.

In this endeavor, flowers assume a role of immense significance, becoming a source of solace and contentment. Their presence possesses an uncanny ability to promptly elevate my spirits and provide a sense of peace, offering a much-needed respite from the prevailing emotional distress.

At this juncture, the pursuit of such solace becomes paramount. Within this context, my preference for a wholly analog workflow gains relevance. This methodology enables a profound and intricate connection with each facet of the creative process, facilitating a deeper engagement with my emotions and thoughts.

You can learn more about the creative pillars that I use to help me create my artwork.

The arrangements and compositions I meticulously construct are far from arbitrary. They are deliberately crafted to convey intricate layers of meaning and sentiment. Essentially, I am employing the medium of flower photography to encapsulate and express my innermost emotions, with the blossoms themselves serving as a conduit for this expressive journey.

In this intricate dance of creation, natural light and shadows emerge as my metaphorical brushstrokes. Much like a painter, I wield these elements to craft each composition’s mood and emotional tenor precisely. The interplay between light and shadow is the very bedrock upon which the composition’s emotional resonance is built.

To this end, I have chosen to work with the wet collodion process on glass plates—an artistic technique originating from the 1850s. This painstaking method is a conduit for the aesthetic sensibilities and emotions that course through me.

I make an 1882 gelatin chloride emulsion in my darkroom and hand coat it on my choice of fine art paper to make an exquisite handmade artwork.

The tangible connection to these historical processes grounds my artistic expression and imbues it with a sense of timeless continuity.

I am trying to create an ephemeral, mystical, mysterious aesthetic that radically departs from the reality we see on Earth.

The equipment, technical choices, and wet plate collodion workflow support my vision.

If I wanted very clean and straight negatives, I have many different ways to create them that would be exponentially easier.

I use an 1860s Dallmeyer 3B F3 Petzval lens on my Chamonix 8×10 large format view camera because it helps me create a mystical and mysterious aesthetic.

Subsequently, the collodion glass plate negatives I produce become the foundation for my silver gelatin chloride contact prints—a meticulous darkroom endeavor. These prints, shaped and refined through the alchemy of chemistry and light, encapsulate the culmination of my artistic odyssey. Each print is not merely a representation; it is a tangible embodiment of the emotions, thoughts, and profound journey that have led to its creation.

-Tim Layton