Images by Keliy Anderson-Staley
Essays by Geoffrey Batchen and Matthew Williams
11 x 14 inches
About On a Wet Bough
This stunning monograph of tintype portraits is culled from an archive of hundreds taken over the last decade by Keliy Anderson-Staley. The long exposure time needed to make a tintype requires that the sitter remain as still as possible to produce a sharp image. As a result, the subjects of these tintypes often display an intense and guileless expression that immediately connects their faces to those of 19th-Century portraits. Stripped of the modern default behavior of smiling in front of a camera, these images, with all the exquisite detail afforded by the wet plate process, suggest an important rethinking of what it means to photograph and be photographed.
Anderson-Staley mixes and pours the emulsion for each plate on site shortly before a portrait is made. The process of hand-coating each piece leaves behind traces of the maker that are as beautifully and deeply embedded in the final image as the perceived identity of the subject.