Wet Plate War Zone: Ed Drew
“The camera is the eye of history.” – Matthew Brady
Earlier this week, The Guardian posted a fantastic piece on the wet plate photography of military-gunner-slash-photographer, Ed Drew. While deployed in the Helmand province of Afghanistan, Drew used the 150-year old process to capture portraits of his fellow soldiers. It’s the first time since Matthew Brady photographed the officers and battlefields of the Civil War that wet plate has been used in a conflict zone, but, for Drew, it was the only choice for capturing the character of his subjects. “I know all of my subjects well and fly with them on missions,” he says, “and I felt it essential in telling their story that I connect with them on a close level. No photographic process can achieve this better than wet plate.” Using a 4×5 Speed Graphic for capture, the normally arduous developing process was further complicated by the hot Afghan sun, reducing Drew’s working time on each plate from from ten minutes, to just two. Drew believes both the process and the resulting images were absolutely worth the effort and serve as metaphor, allowing us to better understand past and present, saying “it alludes to the American past and to mankind’s struggle to reconcile war and perfection”.
[via The Guardian]