Collodion is a complex technique (chemicals are highly controlled, the process requires precision and rapidity of execution) using glass plate coated with silver nitrate, typical of nineteenth-century photographic aesthetic.
Sally Mann with antique view cameras from the early 1900s, with accordion, brass lenses and that need you to take picture under a black cloth. They soften the light, make the pictures timeless. “I’m just the opposite of a lot of photographers who want everything to be really, really sharp and they’re always stopping it down to F64 and they like detail and they look with their magnifying glass to make sure everything’s really sharp,” she says. “I don’t want any of that. I want it to be mysterious.”
Sally Mann was convalescent, and couldn’t move from her bedside. She started to take photographs of herself. Her shadowy imperfect images are glass-plate ambrotype positives straight from the camera, developed using an old long-winded process. Imperfections, scratches, dark exposure with low contrast, slightly out of focus make her face rising from the darkness of illness.
Her elusive self-portraits are vanities, melancholias of the past fading and disappearing with the passage of time. The grid of square frames represents her ‘memories’ as a daily selfie of that time. We can look further Roman Opalka’s work who took his portrait day after day to record his transformation, his evolution with age (regarding a daily scale).