Virtuous – wet plate collodion tintype; 5 x 4 in.
Coming from a non-religious upbringing and constantly searching for some sort of spiritual connection, I find religious icons intriguing, especially those of the Virgin Mary. I’m drawn to the individual personality of each representation of the Virgin. Her beauty, mystery, grace, and virtuosity always present. She is a symbol of hope and faith to those that are devoted to what she represents.
Photographically I am interested in exploiting some of the inherent characteristics of photography. I use shallow depth of field to isolate the portrait of the Virgin from the background and create a sense of mystery. Taken out of context, I believe this image may challenge the viewer to question my intention in choosing the Virgin as my subject matter and therefore question the idea of faith. Have I faithfully represented this powerful icon or have I made the viewer question their faith?
Fascinated by history and memory, I have always been drawn to subjects that have an inherent historical feel to them. I enhance that feeling through employing historical photographic processes. In this case I have used the 19th century wet plate collodion tintype process; A metal plate is coated with collodion, then sensitized in a bath of silver nitrate. While wet, the plate is exposed with an enlarger and then developed using an acidic iron sulfate solution and lastly fixed with sodium thiosulfate or potassium cyanide. The results are undeniably beautiful in their rich, seductive tones.
© Connie Begg