Thursday, August 09, 2007

Soldiers Wanted

I simply like these (via State of the Art) - Soldier Portraits by Ellen Susan

"Soldiers Wanted. If you are a soldier or know one who might want to participate in the Soldier Portraits Project, please get in touch at or call 912-228-0336. You can schedule a time to be photographed and/or ask any questions you might have.

All soldiers who want to be photographed will be. There is no audition or selection process. The only requirements are 3 and a half hours of your time at my studio in Savannah, and the ability to sit very still for up to 30 seconds. You'll receive a unique, one-of-a-kind photograph to take with you when you leave.

I look forward to hearing from you. Ellen Susan"

From State of the Art:

Susan says the project took shape after she and her husband, journalist Rob Walker, moved to Savannah last year and found themselves surrounded by soldiers from nearby Fort Stewart and the Hunter Army Airfield. "I started seeing soldiers in uniform at the grocery store," she recalls. "And I read that many members of the 3rd Infantry Division were being deployed to Iraq for the third time. This was startling. The kid in front of us in line at the Best Buy was probably on his way back to Iraq. And looking into the face -- often impossibly fresh and young -- of someone like that and connecting that face to what we hear happens there was a big change for me in the way I thought about soldiers, and I wanted to make that concrete."

Susan had already begun experimenting with the notoriously arduous collodion process. "I always loved looking at photographs from the wet-plate era, but I didn't understand what made them look the way they do," she says. "When I realized that some contemporary photographers were practicing it, I started seeking out their work. What really impressed and excited me were not the prints but the hard images -- the ambrotypes and tintypes. They are fantastic physical objects."

She says the Civil War-era process lends itself to her modern subjects: "First, the process is primarily sensitive to ultra-violet light, and that means that tones are rendered in a way that is different from standard silver processes. Second, the plates show a great deal of grainless detail. And probably most important is the necessarily long exposures (5 to 30 seconds), which cause the subject to engage with the picture-making in a fairly intense way."

I also like how she presents the pictures next to the soldier's simple questionnaire.

PS - I really like the site as well - clean, simple and good looking


Stan B. said...


Glenn Twiggs said...

Excellent! I was in a half-day workshop with the Osterman's last yer and made an Ambrotype. Truly amazing objects.

P.S. - The website link is bad. Try this:

Davin Risk said...

I definitely like them as portraits although I found myself getting a little overwhelmed by the uniform (no pun) rhetoric in almost all of the soldier's statements. They could almost have been written by the US Army's marketing PR team.