A Delhi-Based Artist Is Reviving A 150-Year Old Photographic Technique

A Delhi-Based Artist Is Reviving A 150-Year Old Photographic Technique

Back in 1850, a unique form of creating portraits was developed. This technique involved dissolving a piece of glass or metal into a silver chemical composition which eventually gives birth to a grainy, ethereal portrait.

Keeping this legacy of the ambrotype photographic process is a Delhi-based photographer and artist Sarang Sena. Sena’s experiments with the art form are nearing 1000 days since their inception back during the first lockdown. The advertorial photographer who set out on a sabbatical in 2020 decided to go back to the basics and learn manual photographic techniques from scratch.

What emerged out of his experiments is a distinct style that the artist has managed to master, nearly two years on.

The Technique

Better known as the wet-plate collodion technique, Sena has managed to grasp the nuances of this long-drawn process in the two years that he’s carried on his experiments for. The in-depth technique often involves immersing the sheet of film into a solution made from a variant of a DIY silver chemical and distilled lab-grade water.

Over time, a portrait slowly fades onto the sheet and subsequently darkens and becomes better-defined. The results that have emerged present a very nostalgic and ethereal narrative. Using this technique to broaden his personal artistry, Sena may have just unearthed a unique style for himself as a photojournalist and photographer whose 17-year old career has just begun to diversify in new and interesting ways.


In his recent collaboration with Vogue Italia, Sarang Sena produced a series of portraits under titled Contributors, to shed light on the various communities and individuals striving hard to aid society during the peak of the pandemic. The series features stark portraits of healthcare workers, drivers, nurses and cremation ground operators. Using the wet-plate technique to develop this series, Sena has etched out images, each containing within itself a heart-breaking yet powerful story.

Sena uses the uncertainty of the process itself as a foundation to develop deeply intuitive and introspective pieces that delve into themes that best describe moments of solidarity despite the isolation and loneliness that the pandemic presented us with.

Image source: Platform mag
Image source: Platform mag

Sarang Sena is currently in the process of passing on the knowledge of the technique and its nuances to artists who wish to learn. A crash course for interesting participants is currently being hosted at his Delhi-based studio space, C(see) Y(why) Studios.

If you wish to enrol for the wet-plate collodion course, click here.

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