It’s an ordinary day, walking through El Raval neighborhood looking for new places and new stories to tell and the atmosphere of the streets awakens my imagination. My walk is quiet, unlike the bustle and frenetic activity of small shops and businesses. there’s always something recent to learn or discover that i missed last time i came. People living here are from many different backgrounds, vibrant mix of cultures fostering further ideas and projects.

I stop suddenly at the confluence of streets La Paloma and Lleó, a glance from behind hits my back like an embedded dart. It doesn’t come from a real person but from a portrait in a shopfront and just beside there’s a white naked mannequin standing with that crystalline look.

Señor Archer, Chemistry photography is written on the glass. Curiosity got the better of me so i decided to go inside. It seems that time stops and goes back to the past in here, as if the activity of outside has nothing to do with it. A black leather sofa on the right, a diaphanous office two heights to my left and in front a space to shoot.

Escaparate Señor Archer

Alberto Gamazo, owner and creator of the portraits, treats me kindly. We introduce ourselves, he explains how the technique works and the most amazing, he invites me to experience it in person. I knew since that moment, I’ll write it on the blog!

Have you got time?, he asks me, –of course, when i come over here i bring enough, i replay. The question is not casual, Time is the raison d’être of the entire process. From preparing the plate until you have unforgettable portrait in your hands.

The process begins in the words of Alberto, “with pouring of collodion, which will serve as photographic film on the aluminum plate or glass. A few minutes later we dip the plate, and emulsified in a bath of silver nitrate, which react with the various salts suspended in the collodion and becomes the photosensitive plate. Once we have obtained the sensitive material, introduced the plate in a chassis, and in the dark, which shall be the charge in the camera, a  Sinar Norma that belonged to my father, the mid-50 with a lens Perken Son & Rayment 1877 Petzval tipe”.

Pasos de preparación de placa

We come to the moment of pause and reflexion, time to look at the lens, breathe deeply and not to move, exposure can last up to twenty seconds long. The result is a unique and imperfect image as the human condition. Gestures and glances will last for ever.

the photographer provides us the opportunity not only to take a piece of art for a small fee but also to live a different experience. A journey through history of over 150 years, when Frederic Scott Archer synthesized the photographic technique of wet collodion, making available to the public a cheaper and less dangerous as it was the daguerreotype system.



Alberto Gamazo

To learn more about Alberto Gamazo, you have two ways, a virtual visit to Señor Archer or to go to number 15  Paloma street in Raval neighborhood, Metro Universidad Line 2.

I’m very grateful to Alberto for the opportunity to experience the whole process and i wish him the best for 2015 new year.


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2 Responses

  1. Mercedes Comesaña

    Great post Peter, brave step into English, congratulations! kisses.
    Mercedes Comesaña


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