Jerry Spagnoli lives and works in New York
He is currently working on several projects including two ongoing
historical documentation series,
“Local Stories” and “The Last Great Daguerreian Survey of the Twentieth
The common thread among all his projects is the exploration of the
interplay between information and knowledge
Taking the camera and photosensitive materials as the traditional
standard for objectivity Spagnoli explores the ways that subjectivity is
the inevitable basis of all knowledge.
A book of his work, titled
Daguerreotypes was published by Steidl in 2006, and his next book
“American Dreaming will be published in Fall 2009.
His work has appeared in many books and
publications, among them are “Watching the World Change”, by David
Friend, “Photography’s Antiquarian Avant Garde” by Lyle Rexer, “21st: A
Journal of Contemporary Photography Volume VI: Flesh and Spirit”, Vanity
Fair, DoubleTake Magazine, Adbusters, Metropolis and Graphis.
His work is held in the collections of The
Whitney Museum of American Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The
National Portrait Gallery, The Fogg Museum, The Museum of Modern
Art, The Chrystler Museum, The Art Institute of Chicago, The High
Museum, The New York Historical Society and other major collections
L'article en français
How did you come to the daguerreotype process?
I discovered my first daguerreotype in
1979 at a photography flea market and considered it the most perfect
photograph I had ever seen. I then decided to make one, eventually.
Which proportion of
your time as a photographer do you devote to the daguerreotype
Currently, about half my time is
devoted to daguerreotypes.
With which equipment
do you make these daguerreotypes?
I use an 8x10 view camera, modern or
ancient lenses and darkroom equipment that I build myself.
Have you established
any bridges between your practice as a daguerreotypist and digital
I scan my daguerreotypes and make
prints from them occasionally. I use digital technology in other
projects, photography and video.
What are the
advantages and drawbacks of the daguerreotype as compared to other
Daguerreotypes have a unique and
powerful presence, a feeling of immediacy that other media lack but
they are cumbersome to work with. Slow speed, difficult and time
consuming preparation and the need for a nearby darkroom can get in
the way of certain projects.
Do you think that
certain subjects are particularly suitable for daguerreotypes?
I think any subject is suitable for
daguerreotypes as long as the medium's limitations are taken into
account but I think portraiture in particular works well.
What are the main
features of a good daguerreotype in your opinion?
I like daguerreotypes that have
clarity, immediacy and rich tones.
How do you see the
future of daguerreotypes?
I think that as industrial photography
fades and photographers increasingly have to make their own
materials the daguerreotype will become even more popular with
Would you have any
advice to young photographers wishing to make daguerreotypes?
Patience, caution and perseverance are
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