Many photographers are excited to utilize the latest and greatest camera technology, but Giles Clement likes to keep things classic. The Nashville-based creative produces dramatic portraiture with equipment that was made more than 160 years ago, as he describes, “from an era when cameras were made by craftsmen in small shops and lenses were designed using slide rules, experience and feel.” These devices have their own technological shortcomings, but that’s precisely why Clement likes them. “The inherent flaws of these instruments lend themselves perfectly to my view of a beautifully imperfect world.”
Clement’s photographic approaches include tintype and its sister process, the ambrotype. These early and complicated techniques were popularized in the 1850s and 1860s. “Each [tintype] image takes 10 minutes to make, a bunch of equipment and a huge amount of light,” he explained to Instagram Blog. It’s these challenges, however, that excite Clement. “Even after shooting full time for 16 years, I still get a little kick of adrenaline each time I make a good image.”
The vintage portraits by Clement are striking—they’re dark, moody, and it feels like we’ve entered a time-warp just by looking at them. To showcase his ambrotypes, Clement has printed them on a glass plate, which he then has his subjects hold in front of them. This creates a fantastic juxtaposition where the past meets the present in one compelling, seamless composition.