Photographer John Berry
How has 2020 affected you as an artist?
The COVID pandemic and ensuing shutdown along with the “stay home” recommendations turned out to be a gift to me, the gift of time. The time to dig into a process that was invented in 1851 and creates an image, as Sally Mann says, “…whose ragged black edges gave it the appearance of having been torn from time itself.” (Sally Mann in “a thousand crossings”)
Up until March of 2020, I spent most of my time with digital photography, portraits and high school sports. The pandemic shutdown ended all of that for several months.
I had taken a wetplate workshop back in June of 2018 at the Visual Arts Center in Richmond. Wetplate was a process I’d always been curious about, but never had a chance to try. I dabbled in it for a couple of years after the workshop and in March had MUCH more free time to spend with the process.
Wetplate is a process that involves creating a light sensitive plate (glass or aluminum), exposing it in-camera, and then developing the plate immediately to create the photograph. The process creates an image that is extremely archival and is expected to last well over 200 years. There’s something very special about creating something that will outlive you by many many years.