By the way, I have had a daguerreotype portrait done, drove 5h for that and paid for it.
But I'm rare breed anyway...
But better marketing would help.
I would be tempted to do the same. But most people don't even know how to spell dagereotype (or film, it seems) so I can't imagine a mass market. I don't think there has been a mass market for dags since 1858 or so... so why should there be one now?
Originally Posted by AgX
It doesn't have to be a "mass" market.
Originally Posted by BrianShaw
I guess it will never be a mass market.
I don't get it. Who is asking you to make Dag images?
Originally Posted by desertratt
I've learned the process. It's amazing and beautiful, and I'd probably pay someone to get a really good Dag portrait done. But the market I don't think is there to sustain more than a handful of people practicing the medium because as others have already pointed out, A: there is a lot of ignorance of the process, and B: to make money at it you'd have to charge a LOT (we're talking sitting fees of $500+ depending on plate size). Realistically speaking, unless you have assistants to process the plate, you're talking about making no more than four or five plates a day. You'd spend a good hour to two hours each day polishing plates to get ready for sensitization. Then once your plates are polished, you have to fume them with the iodine and bromine to make them light-sensitive. That process takes say 10 minutes per plate (the fuming itself doesn't take that long, but the process of loading the plate, fuming, checking the sensitization, and loading the plate in the camera could easily take that long). Your exposure will be measured in minutes, not seconds. Then development, fixing, and gilding the plate will add another hour. Granted, you can sensitize a batch of plates in the morning and use them later, but it is still best to sensitize, expose and process them immediately. They keep longer than wet plate, but they're not dry plates or film. The sensitized silver layer will begin to oxidize and lose sensitivity and contrast very quickly.
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There is a niche for these older processes. I shoot wet plate, but not commercially. Why not Daguerreotypes? Like Jim Jones said, mercury doesn't play nice inside the human body.
Thank you very much for the infos.
I thought it may be a nice idea to explore alternative process comercially. Since there are much less people offering the service and the result may impress most people.
just as a less toxic/dangerous version of wet plates was invented ( dry plate, dry plate ferrotypes )
Originally Posted by jcc
from what i understand, there is a mercury free version of daguerreotypes also, it's called the bequerel process,
it takes more time to develop, but the process does exist.
another apug user, jason greenberg motamedi is a daguerrotypist ...
he's been making them for a long long time, and gives workshops on making them from what i remember.
his website has some stunning dags on it too ... http://motamedi.info/
Last edited by jnanian; 06-04-2013 at 06:28 AM. Click to view previous post history.
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The Becquerel process daguerreotype lets you remove two of the more toxic chemicals from the process, bromine and mercury. However, you still need vapors of iodine (do NOT breathe this stuff). Becquerel plates are not as light sensitive as mercury developed plates because the bromine is an accelerant. Exposure time for a Becquerel plate is going to be multiple minutes. They also lack the contrast and sharpness of mercury developed plates. Becquerel plates are developed by re-exposure of the plate to sunlight, through a rubylith filter. The development can be done by inspection, but it will require say an hour or more in sunlight, and can take overnight using a uv-rich artifical light source.
Jerry Spagnoli (NYC) and Mike Robinson (Toronto) both shoot commercial dag portraits. While the Beq. process is "safer", the extra slow speed makes it problematic for portraits (3 mins f 8 in bright sunlight). I know Jerry uses a thermonuclear power strobe bank for his head shots, and also uses the faster Br-Hg method. His dags are second to none. Mike's work uses natural light and consequently has a very different look.
Regarding production speed- figure 3 hours to polish, buff and sensitize 6-8 plates. I prep my plates in the morning and run a bromine test in my driveway before heading out to shoot. Back in the afternoon, I develop over the Hg pot and fix - 8 plates take a little over an hour, not including gilding time.
I've thought about offering a portrait service, but at an hourly rate plus plate costs I feel it would only be viable in a major city -- not here in the boonies of Connecticut.